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Empire

Programme run: 5 x 60 minutes
Production: BBC
First Transmitted: 2012 HDavailable

This major series tells the story of the British Empire in a new way. We travel the globe to examine how an empire takes and holds power, the cult of monarchy, the image of the gentleman explorer and the gospel of sport. Along the way we take in a pirates' treasure hunt and find out how one country convinced itself it should rule the world.

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This five-part series tells the story of the British Empire, tracing not only the rise and fall of the Empire but also the complex effects of the Empire on the modern world – political, technological and social – and on Britain.

We travel to India, the Middle East, Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and the Far East in search of the extraordinary characters, burning ambitions and surprising principles which created an empire four times the size of Ancient Rome’s.

A Taste for Power
Britain took and held power in many different ways in the Empire, from a calculated display of imperial pageantry to the cult of monarchy. Yet should any country be so obsessed with what Lawrence of Arabia called ‘policing other men’s muddles’?

Making Ourselves at Home
When you’re conquering and settling in new countries, how do you create a feeling of ‘home’? In exchange, many of the millions affected by imperial expansion learned to see Britain as their home.

Playing the Game
The Empire saw the growth of a particular type of British hero – adventurer, gentleman, sportsman – and a British obsession: sport. The gospel of sport spread through the Empire’s public schools, laying the foundations for almost all the major sports of today.

Making a Fortune
A pirates’ treasure hunt grew into an informal empire based on trade - and slavery. It formed the basis of the modern global financial network.

Doing Good
The extraordinary story of how a desire for conquest became a mission to improve the rest of mankind. How did that mission become an unquestioning belief that Britain could – and should – rule the world?
 

 

 


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