A Taste for Power

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Episode 1 of 5

Duration: 1 hour

Jeremy Paxman traces the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known: the British Empire. In the first programme, he asks how such a small country got such a big head, and how a tiny island in the North Atlantic came to rule over a quarter of the world's population. He travels to India, where local soldiers and local maharajahs helped a handful of British traders to take over vast areas of land. Spectacular displays of imperial power dazzled subject peoples and developed a cult of Queen Victoria as Empress, mother and virtual God. In Egypt, Jeremy explores the bit of Empire that never was, as Britain's temporary peace-keeping visit turned into a seventy year occupation. He travels to the desert where Lawrence of Arabia brought a touch of romance to the grim struggle of the First World War. As Britain came to believe it could solve the world's problems, he tells the story of the triumphant conquest of Palestine by Imperial troops - and Britain's role in a conflict that haunts the Middle East to this day.

Last on

Mon 16 Apr 2012 01:25 BBC One except Wales

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  • Get your free poster from The Open University

    Get your free poster from The Open University

    Explore how the Empire reinvented itself as the Commonwealth with the OU's free wall map.

    Also, test your knowledge of Empire with our RSVP Empire game, and explore the past in more depth.

    Visit Empire on OpenLearn from The Open University
  • The ruins of the British Residency in Lucknow

    The ruins of the British Residency in Lucknow

    When Indian troops mutinied against their officers in 1857, the bluff of British power was called; there was bloodshed and brutality on both sides. The residency at Lucknow is kept a bombed out ruin, a memorial to what is called in India “The First war of Independence.”

  • Read more:

    The Lion’s Share : A short history of British Imperialism by Bernard Porter

    Britain’s Imperial Century by Ronald Hyam

    The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James

Credits

Presenter
Jeremy Paxman
Presenter
Jeremy Paxman
Director
John Hay
Director
John Hay
Director
Roger Parsons
Director
Roger Parsons
Series Producer
Julian Birkett
Series Producer
Julian Birkett

Broadcasts

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