The History of the World Backwards

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The History of the World Backwards
GenreComedy mockumentary
Created byRob Newman
StarringRob Newman
Anton Lesser
Richard McCabe
Colin McFarlane
Lucy Liemann
Jim Howick
Su-Lin Looi
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Running time30 minutes
Original networkBBC Four
Original release30 October (2007-10-30) –
4 December 2007 (2007-12-04)

The History of the World Backwards is a comedy sketch show written and starring Rob Newman. It is a mock history programme set in an alternative world, where time flows forwards, but history flows backwards. It was shown on BBC Four, starting on 30 October 2007, and later shown on BBC Two. It was Newman's first television project for 14 years.[1]


The History of the World Backwards tells the story of the world, but in a world where time flows forwards whilst history told backwards. In other words, if you were born in 2007, you would be 60 years old in 1947. All the major historical events happen backwards, so for example, Nelson Mandela enters jail a Spice Girls fan, and comes out as a terrorist intent in overthrowing the state.[1] There are several recurring themes, such as the "Technology collapse", where scientific discoveries are lost, forgotten or made unworkable.


Most reviews of the show have been critical of it. One reviewer said, "Here, we are relying largely on Newman alone and he ends up being bogged down into too many sketches that fail to go anywhere and stretch far too long", and also said it was too similar to Time Trumpet.[2] Another claimed the show was too confusing and that, "The sketches are nonsensically unfunny, and any serious points get lost in the absurdity."[3] A. A. Gill said that, "It's a sketch show written by Stephen Hawking's wheelchair. It collapses under the weight and restrictions of its own concepts."[4]


  1. ^ a b Benedictus, Leo (29 October 2007). "Blast from the past". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  2. ^ Donaldson, Brian (18 October 2007). "The History of the World Backwards". The List. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  3. ^ Buckley, Julia (30 October 2007). "The history of the world backwards". The London Paper. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  4. ^ Gill, A. A. (4 November 2007). "Muslim drama with a fundamental flaw". The Times. Retrieved 4 November 2007.

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