Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

January 4, 2006


Filed under: Emily Bronte,Media,TV,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 6:16 pm

A Brontë on History Bites

What is History Bites, you ask, and What does it have to do with the Brontës? History Bites is a brilliant (if I may say so) Canadian skit comedy program which still runs on the History Television channel. This is how they describe themselves- I cannot do better:

History Bites is a skit comedy show that asks, "What if television had been around for the past 5,000 years?"

Each episode explores an important historical event by channel surfing through news, sports, talk shows, commercials, and game shows. The Sports Desk covers Gladiator fights. Martha Stewart plans a Roman orgy. Pharaoh Ramses meets the press. A Mongol barbarian appears on Larry King. The X-Files delves into the latest plague. Cops are Knights.
By viewing ancient events through television parodies, History Bites connects our past to our present. Spoofing popular TV formats makes historical events as urgent as today's news; and it gives today's urgent news stories a historical context. Viewers discover that history does repeat itself and there are lessons to be learned from the past.

Of special interest to us is one episode in particular:

Episode 59
When Irish Eyes Are Starvin'

The great Irish Potato famine that caused a huge wave of immigrants to leave the old world for Canada. It's a story of immigration and economics done as a telethon to raise money for food, or money to ship the Irish off to the new world. There are also on-the-street interviews with apathetic English citizens, and Larry King grills the politicians who did too little, too late. Other parodies include Dennis Miller offering his thoughts, Martha Stewart on how to cook for a famine, and the game show "Who Wants To Have A Wee Bit Of Potato?"

And who has generously decided to sponsor an Irishman but our very own Emily Brontë! Sadly, I don't have any pictures of her from this episode. I have drawn some, however! Not really accurate, since the last time I saw this show was more than 5 years ago… nevertheless, better than nothing! She starts off, in the field reporting for the telethon. It's a bit damp in Ireland.

She there interviews a miserable man named 'Murphy.' Emily "Brontie", despite the rain, is inspired on the spot and asks him if nothing does grow "on those hills, surely something… something must flower in that verdant heath?" "Naw, t' hap o' dairt's good fur nothin'," replies 'Murphy'. "..How awful." She will not let her spirits down, for this Emily- this blond ringletted and very sprightly Emily, is as I said 'sprightly' and cheerful. But considering the other people involved in the telethon it's alright- at least she isn't trying to slip in promos for Wuthering Heights. Some of the composers involved in the charity are obviously only there to spin their operas (hmph).

Sometime later we return to Emily. She has sponsored Murphy's immigration to America and she has just recieved a letter from him. After excitedly opening it, she reads. "Alas, the streets here are not paved with gold. They are, in fact, not paved at all. And they seem to expect me to pave them," she smiles weakly before reviving. "I finally got a chance to read your book, Wuthering Heights! While the characters were most intriguing, I felt that the conclusion extends far beyond the natural ending… and the… *mumble* …contrived…"

Poor Emily.

(As you see only one was inked. I just began applying for grad programs, and I am so anxious/excited that my hand is unsteady a mite- as you can see from the first illustration and my inky fingers which you cannot see. The joys of dip pen sketching!)

The photos in this post are from other History Bites episodes and feature fans of 'The Greekles,' and Ivan the Terrible on Oprah with Dr.Phil.



  1. Contrived?! Oh, that sketch looks just a bit like me – 😉

    Your drawings are delightful.

    Comment by frankengirl — January 4, 2006 @ 8:57 pm |Reply

  2. lol does it? Very odd. It doesn’t look much like the actress who played Emily. So hard to get the pictures out of your head just right 😉

    I thought the ‘contrived’ thing was appropriate, too, considering our discussion. 🙂 I didn’t plan this, by the way- it just turned out this way. ANd thank you for the compliment. I had intended this to be an illustrated blog but then, with school and everything I didn’t have the time. I do have a picture of Sir Bulwer-Lytton in petticoats back in the archives, though! 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — January 4, 2006 @ 10:43 pm |Reply

  3. yes Bronteana!! I love your sketches too 🙂

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 5, 2006 @ 12:02 am |Reply

  4. Wow!! Grad school in Bronte studies? That’s FAB!!! It must be a tiring process but exciting I am sure 🙂
    I am considering that too…but not for a year or two yet 😉

    Good Luck with all the Grad School stuff!!

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 5, 2006 @ 12:06 am |Reply

  5. there will be more sketches sometime in the future- whenever I have a clear head and steady hand 😉 It’s the only way for me to report on something- something I think is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever heard- and about the Brontes! It couldn’t get any better… but getting it right is going to take some skill- and bravery.

    Comment by Brontëana — January 5, 2006 @ 12:15 am |Reply

  6. Tiring? Exciting? Terrifying. Yes. I think I sat in mute terror for a few hours today, looking at the application. I would love to let this wait one more year. But I don’t think it would be right. A lot of things are not settled at home right now, so it’s very risky to leave but I have to make my way and the sooner the better. But it’s scary!

    Comment by Brontëana — January 5, 2006 @ 12:20 am |Reply

  7. oooh I looked at the picture more closely…Emily’s got bangs (?!) 😛 hehe

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 5, 2006 @ 12:23 am |Reply

  8. Yes, bangs! It was a horrid blond wig with ringlets! She had more frills on her dress and umbrella, I think. She did a really cute curtsy when she introduced herself- it was all very unlike her! But the ‘contrived’ thing amused me. She was pretty peevish after that 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — January 5, 2006 @ 12:37 am |Reply

  9. 😮 – I thought the “contrived” was a reference to our discussion as well – which is why I thought the sketch “looked like me.” Ah, well, silly me.

    mysticgypsy & bronteana – good luck with all your studies – both of you!

    Comment by frankengirl — January 5, 2006 @ 6:59 am |Reply

  10. ah. Well, it does, you know! Like both of us- contrived, indeed! Hmph!

    Comment by Brontëana — January 5, 2006 @ 1:17 pm |Reply

  11. aww Thanks Frankengirl 🙂

    Comment by mysticgypsy — January 5, 2006 @ 2:15 pm |Reply

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