Image for The importance of the British Empire

The importance of the British Empire

Duration: 03:52

Britain's world status was obvious in everyday life, from the exotic imported goods for sale, to the Empire theatres and cinemas. British school children celebrated Empire Day, although many had never seen a black person.

However, by the 1930s, the Empire was becoming a drain on resources; over a third of the army were deployed in India and uprisings against British rule had become more common. Ultimately, World War 2 showed how valuable the Empire’s peoples, ports and naval bases were, but afterwards Britain was left bankrupt and could no longer afford to rule.

Available since: Thu 16 Aug 2012

This clip is from

History File 20th Century World

Did the World Wars change Britain? Has the nature of poverty changed?

First broadcast: 15 Apr 2008

Image for 20th Century World Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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