Libraries all over County Durham are offering their customers the chance to win tickets for a wonderfully gruesome stage show.

The show – to be held at Durham City’s Gala Theatre – is inspired by the Horrible Histories series of books by north-east author Terry Deary.

The Horrible Histories – a firm favourite with both adults and children for many years – are stuffed full of fascinating, and often downright grisly, facts about various periods of the past.

The show – entitled Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – has now finished its critically acclaimed run in London’s West End and is touring Britain. It will be staged at the Gala Theatre on Sunday 3rd March.

And all County Durham’s library users will have the chance to win free tickets for the spectacle.

Anybody who borrows or reserves a Horrible Histories book from a County Durham library before Wednesday 20th February will be entered into a prize draw to win a ticket.

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain will take the audience through a number of historical epochs, giving theatregoers the chance to meet some of British history’s most fascinating characters.

The show will include an attempted mutiny against Henry VIII and feature the fate of Queen Elizabeth I’s teeth. The audience will also get to help Georgian detectives find a headless body.

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain stars Pip Chamberlin, who might seem familiar to many Gala-goers. Pip played Corporal Crosby in last year’s Gala panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Pip said, “The Barmy Britain shows have taken me around the world, but it’s such a buzz to come back to the Gala Theatre. The crowds here are the best and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun.”

“Horrible Histories is not a boring history lesson – essentially, it’s interesting facts with gags. I think the secret to the books’ success is that they are subversive. They poke fun at the establishment and make you question things and laugh a lot.”

“We can all learn a lot through laughter, and if people leave our show having had a great time and discovered something new, then we’ve definitely done our job.”

Horrible histories library comp
Neal Foster and Anthony Spargo in Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain (Photographer Mark Douet)

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for transformation, Cllr Joy Allen, said, “The Horrible Histories books have been entertaining young people and their parents for more than 20 years.”

“They are a popular choice at all of our libraries and we are delighted the West End show is coming to Durham.”

“We hope the play and competition will inspire even more people to read these wonderful books and the many other titles we have on offer in our libraries.”

All council-run libraries in County Durham are free to join. Members have access to a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books, including titles for toddlers, children and teens.

Library customers can also download an enormous range of e-books and e-audiobooks for free, using the BorrowBox app.

In addition, County Durham libraries offer regular Toddler Time sessions, where tots can hear stories, sing songs and take part in crafts.

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain will be staged at Durham City’s Gala Theatre on Sunday 3rd March at 1.30 pm and 4.00 pm. Tickets cost £15.50, £14 for concessions.

Family tickets are available at £54 and tickets for groups of ten or more are on offer at £12.50 per person.

To book tickets, please go to or telephone 03000 266 600.

For more information about County Durham’s libraries – including locations and opening times – please visit   

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David writes about local news, thought provoking stories, and yearns to capture the community spirit with a unique writing style.


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