Horrible Histories – Terry Deary Interview


by Joshua and David Lawson

David Lawson Studios

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Josh was asked by the Big Issue Magazine to spend a day with Vicky Caroll the editor and Terry Deary. I found myself intrigued by his life as I photographed him throughout Durham City Centre. This Commercial Job was different to others and I enjoyed it very much.

Please buy a copy of the The Big Issue or read about our time with Terry in this online publication

About Terry

Terry was born in Sunderland, England, on 3 January 1946 (aged 71) and now lives in County Durham, in the North-East of England.

Terry’s father (Billy) was a butcher in Hendon, Sunderland, and his mother (Freda) was the manageress of a clothing shop. He worked many years in his father’s butcher shop as a boy. It was better than school where he was beaten, bullied and abused by his loathsome teachers.

Terry began his career as a professional actor in 1972 when he joined Theatre Powys in Mid-Wales. He has also worked as a theatre-director, museum manager, drama teacher, television presenter. He still acts on stage and TV and his work includes parts in British movies “Risen” (2010) and β€œPlan Z” (2014). He also performs on stage with productions for Eboracum classical music group. 

As an actor with Theatre Powys Terry began writing scripts for some of the shows. One of the most successful was a children’s show called “The Custard Kid“. The “Custard Kid” tour ended but Terry didn’t want to lose the exciting tale he’d created so he turned it into a children’s novel. 

In 40 years as an author his writing has included fiction and popular non-fiction for children and adults. As well as books he also writes TV, theatre, radio, audio, movie and new media scripts.

In 2009 CBBC Television launched a major television series of his Horrible Histories which has gone on to win several Children’s BAFTA and  RTS awards. In February 2011 and again 2012 the TV series won a British Comedy Award for best sketch show – the first children’s show ever to win a Comedy Award. The same month Terry Deary became the 10th most-borrowed author in British libraries. In October 2014 Terry’s “Horrible Histories – Villainous Victorians” was named in the “Sunday Times” in the list of 100 Modern Children’s Classics. It was the only non-fiction book to appear in the list.

A series of theatre plays, ‘Horrible Histories’, have been created in collaboration with Birmingham Stage Company touring throughout Britain, Australia, the Middle East and the Far East 2006 – 2018. It is also staged  in London’s West End each year. 

His next projects are with television companies to adapt his new adult book series, ‘Dangerous Days’ into a TV series.  There are TV and movie adaptations planned for his “The Fire Thief‘ trilogy of novels planned as well as TV series based on his “Master Crook’s Crime Academy” and on his “True Time Tales” books published by Bloomsbury Education.

In September 2014 his book ‘Horrible Histories – Measly Middle Ages‘ was read by 426 parents and children together at Warwick Castle to set a new record for ‘The Guinness Book of Records’. His “Horrible Histories – Pirates” featured in a Maritime Museum Exhibition in Sydney, Australia, in 2015/16 and his play “The Macbeth Curse” toured Britain in 2016.  

His charity work includes being patron of ‘Single Homeless Action in Durham’ (SHAID) and the Grace House Children’s Hospice appeal. In 2011 he ran the length of Hadrian’s Wall in 6 days and ended with the Great North Run on the Sunday to make a total of 101 miles. That effort raised Β£8000 for ‘Integrating Children‘. 

Terry was awarded a degree as Doctor of Education at Sunderland University in 2000 and is an ambassador for his home city of Sunderland. In 2011 his novel “Put out the light” was nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal and won the Sheffield Books Award.

Terry has been married to Jenny since 1975 and their daughter Sara is a talented event rider who competes at international level. See her Shivers Event Team website. In June 2011 Sara and husband Paul had twins, Harry and Jessica – Terry and Jenny’s first grand-children. In December 2013 they were joined by young Oliver.

In his spare time Terry is a road runner with Derwentside Athletic Club and takes part in races from 3 miles up to the Great North Run 13.1 miles. In 2016 he did the GNR for the 20th time raising money for Campaign Canute. See the videos he made HERE

In December 2016 he competed in ‘Celebrity Mastermind‘ on BBC1 and won. Terry’s prize money went to the SHAID charity. 

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