Press Office

Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Press Release

Jeremy Paxman explores the history of the British Empire for BBC One

In a landmark new series for BBC One, Jeremy Paxman tells the remarkable story of the British Empire. At its peak, the British Empire was the largest in history and its influence stretched all over the globe.

Empire is a five-part series that traces not only the empire's rise and fall, but explores the complex effects it had on the modern world – political, technological and social – and equally the effects of the empire on Britain.

The series forms part of BBC's commitment to commissioning in-depth arts and culture programmes across a broad range of topics. The BBC is the biggest producer and investor in original arts and music programmes in the UK.

The BBC's Commissioning Editor, Mark Bell, says: "Jeremy Paxman is a brilliant and distinguished broadcaster – who better to weigh up the complexities of the British Empire – its glories, its tragedies, the winners and the losers, its triumph and its curse. We hope that this series will bring to life the people and the chain of events that made it such a powerful institution, as well as shed new light on its consequences."

Travelling across the globe, Jeremy is in search of the extraordinary characters, burning ambitions and surprising principles which created an empire that has so influenced the shape of the world we see today.

From India to Canada, the Far East to Africa, Jeremy finds out how the empire began as a pirates' treasure hunt and grew into the largest global financial network the world had ever seen; how the British created a particular idea of home wherever they conquered and settled; how Britain spread the gospel of sport, laying the foundations for almost all the major sports of today; and at the many different ways in which Britain took and held power in the empire.

Empire has been commissioned by Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor, Arts. Basil Comely is the Executive Producer for the BBC and the Series Producer is Julian Birkett. The five x 60-minute series is produced by BBC Vision and will be broadcast later this year.

Notes to Editors

Empire will be broadcast in Autumn 2011.

Jeremy Paxman's last series for the BBC Arts department was The Victorians, broadcast in 2009, which brought to life the world of Victorian Britain as seen through the paintings of Victorian artists.

The BBC is the biggest producer and investor in original arts and music programmes in the UK.

The BBC creates partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts.

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