Actor, comedian and writer Simon Farnaby won a legion of fans through CBBC’s Horrible Histories although he’d been working for over a decade prior.

Farnaby has acted on and written for UK television as well as scripting Hollywood films and writing a novel.

In recent years, he has worked extensively with 5 other performers (collectively, affectionately known as the ‘Six Idiots’).

Ahead of the final series of Ghosts, let’s take a look at Farnaby’s career.


Simon Farnaby was born on April 2, 1973 in Darlington, County Durham.

Before landing his role on Horrible Histories, Farnaby appeared in a wide range of film and television projects.

He made his small screen debut in 1994 on The House of Windsor. Two years later, Farnaby made a guest appearance on long-running soap opera Coronation Street.

Rowben Lantion/BAFTA via Getty Images

Between 2004-2009, Farnaby worked on several comedy television series. Most notably was The Mighty Boosh, making three appearances from 2004-2007.

Farnaby had extended supporting roles on sitcom Jam & Jerusalem, as well as sketch series Spoons and Blunder.

In particular, the latter was a precursor for what was to come in Farnaby’s career.

He also made minor appearances on The Lenny Henry Show and M.I. High, to name a few.

Film Career

Farnaby has made several big screen appearances throughout his career, as well as writing screenplays.

Some of his film roles include Fat Slags (Farnaby’s debut, he played a ventriloquist), Bunny and the Bull and Burke & Hare.

In 2011, Farnaby had a supporting role in stoner comic fantasy Your Highness, which starred Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman.

Farnaby played Barry, a security guard in the 2014 film Paddington, written by Paul King. In addition to returning for the 2017 sequel, he also co-wrote the screenplay with King.

Farnaby discussed co-writing Paddington 2 in an interview with Den of Geek.

“We did a film together which Paul wrote, and I helped a bit writing.

“And the same happened on Paddington, Paul got a job to write and direct it, and he asked me if I’d talk to him about story ideas and a few jokes, but Paul wrote it, and I helped a bit.

“And for the second one, Paul just went, “Do you want to co-write it this time?”, because we get on well, and I think it’ll be less lonely for him.

“And thankfully, David Heyman agreed that I could be useful to the project, and I got to write on it, which is great.

Simon Farnaby, Den of Geek (2017)
Simon Farnaby
James D. Morgan/Getty Images for P&0 Cruises

As well as this, Farnaby co-wrote the 2016 comedy film Mindhorn, the 2021 biographical comedy-drama The Phantom of the Open and most recently, the upcoming musical fantasy Wonka.

Wonka imagines the early life of Roald Dahl’s iconic chocolatier Willy Wonka, with Timothee Chalomet stepping into the role.

He also had a minor role in Star Wars film Rogue One and 2018’s Christopher Robin.

The Six Idiots

In 2009, Farnaby became one of the lead performers on CBBC’s Horrible Histories.

A sketch comedy show with an educational side, it was based upon a bestselling book series written by Terry Deary.

Farnaby joined fellow cast members Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas, Ben Willbond, Jim Howick and Laurence Rickard.

The show aired 5 series (65 episodes), as well as 6 full length specials and three shorts.

Farnaby played multiple characters, perhaps most notably Death, but also William The Conqueror, James II of England and Robert Walpole, among others.


The show won multiple BAFTA Children’s Awards.

Each episode had a run time of 28 episodes.

Farnaby reunited with the same cast to create Sky One fantasy sitcom Yonderland, airing from 2013-2016.

Once again portraying multiple roles, Farnaby lent his talents to Negatus, the main antagonist as well as Vice-Elder Flowers.

He also wrote multiple episodes, predominantly alone but occasionally with one of the other actors.

Simon Farnaby Bill

The group worked together again on the 2015 historical fictional film Bill, an imagined account of William Shakespeare’s life.

Simon Farnaby took on multiple roles including Juan Domingo, Earl of Croydon, Sausage and Dimitri Alexandrovitch.


The group collaborated further to create the BBC sitcom Ghosts, which premiered in 2009.

Farnaby portrays the ghost of lewd, trouser-less MP Julian Fawcett, who died in a sex scandal during the 1990s.

Julian is the one who sets the show’s events in motion, by pushing Alison (Charlotte Ritchie), out of a window.


The fall and subsequent injury grants Alison the ability to see ghosts.

He has also contributed to writing the show, a notable example being the fan favourite episode ‘Redding Weddy’, alongside Ben Willbond.

The fifth and final series of Ghosts begins airing on October 6.

Follow writer Conor O’Brien on Twitter

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