Age of Empire

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Episode 6 of 7

Duration: 1 hour

The story of the British Empire from 1750 to 1900, revealed through its art and treasures. David Dimbleby travels through Britain, America and India, tracing the descent from adventure and inspiration into moral bankruptcy as the Empire became a self-serving bureaucratic machine.

In Britain, David looks at William Hodges' paintings of Captain Cook's famous voyages, Sir Hiram Maxim's original machine gun, the relics of General Gordon brought back from the Sudan, and some of the priceless trophies plundered in foreign campaigns: Tipu's mechanical Tiger and the Benin Bronzes.

In Philadelphia, he explores William Penn's utopian Old Town, the Liberty Bell, and painter Benjamin West's pictorial white-washing of history in Penn's Treaty With the Indians.

In India, David looks at the colonial architecture of Calcutta, and some fabulous frescoes in a Rajasthan village mocking British customs and personalities.

The programme ends at the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, not so much a monument to the British Empire as its mausoleum.

  • Photo: Dimbleby and Tipu's Tiger

    Photo: Dimbleby and Tipu's Tiger

    David Dimbleby comes face to face with Tipu's Tiger in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The mechanical work was the creation of an Indian ruler, Tipu Sultan, and it shows a tiger mauling a British soldier.

    Wikipedia: Tipu Sultan

Credits

Presenter
David Dimbleby
Director
John Mullen
Producer
John Mullen

Broadcasts

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