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Chinese in Britain

Friday 16 May and Friday 23 May, 2008

Another chance to listen to the BBC Radio 4 series looks at the lives of Chinese people who came to Britain before the takeaway boom of the 1960s.

These programmes are going to be re-broadcast in two special omnibus editions on 16 and 23 May, 2008, at 9.00pm.

Presenter: Anna Chen
Presenter Anna Chen

"For most people, the history of the Chinese in Britain begins with The Takeaway Generation: the thousands of people who came over from Hong Kong in the 1960s, opened a takeaway on every high street, and made chow mein a national British dish. But my Chinese father arrived as a sailor in the 1920s, worked as a firefighter, an activist in the labour movement, and ended up running a newspaper, so I’ve always been curious about those earlier unseen generations. Who were they? What did they do? And what sort of welcome did they get?

In this series I’ll be exploring the lives of the Chinese who came to Britain before the 1960s: as sailors, scholars, writers and artists, as well as laundrymen and cooks. And I’ll be discovering the many surprising ways in which Chinese people have made their mark on British life."

Title music: Hyper Angels by Chi2

Further reading
The Chinese in Britain, 1800-Present: Economy, Transnationalism, and Identity by Gregor Benton and E. T. Gomez, Palgrave, 2007. (A new history of the Chinese presence in Britain to be published summer 2007).

BBC History Magazine, May 2007. Features an article about Chinese in Britain by producer Mukti Jain Campion 

Chinatown - The Magazine, May/June 2007. Features an article about Chinese in Britain  presenter Anna Chen


Congrats on this series - fantastic stuff -- more please!
Sarah Cheung

A wonderful series! Good work! And much overdue too! It's about time the Chinese community's contribution to the UK got the recognition it deserves!

What an excellent and interesting programme - I only wish it were on TV so that I could meet the speakers.
Thank you for introducing me to this 'quiet' section of our population.
I. Crawshaw

I have been listening to the series and it's absolutely wonderful! Congratulations! As a young British Chinese person, it's invaluable to learn about my culture in such an interesting and anecdotal way. The stories are really touching. Thanks so much for producing the series.

It was very well researched and rich in content. I like the songs and sounds inserted to give a feel of what people in the 30s or so would think of China. The audio programme provides a space of imagination quite different from the video media.
Siu-fan Lee

The series is absolutely brilliant - professional, humorous, politically important, beautifully produced. This is a big step forward for the Chinese community and, I hope, for ethnic-Chinese studies in the UK.

I'm British and am currently living in Shanghai so have been fascinated to learn about the history of the Chinese in Britain.It has been interesting and informative.
Alison Johnson

This is definitely an excellent series. It is so much overdue and greatly dispells the stereotypical image of Chinese as merely owners of take-aways and restaurants. I hope that more series like this will be produced, not just for the Chinese, but for all other ethnic groups. Bravo / Brava.

I have really enjoyed listening to each episode. At times we tend to forget where we have come from but it is very important to discover what life was like for our ancestors and to pass on this history to our children. Our lives have changed enormously in recent times but the lessons of life from those days should not be lost. Your programmes have ensured that those memories and lessons have been recorded for posterity. Many thanks for a brilliant series.
Vanessa Clarke
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Chinese in Britain

Episode 1: 30.04.07
Episode 2: 01.05.07
Episode 3: 02.05.07
Episode 4: 03.05.07
Episode 5: 04.05.07
Episode 6: 07.05.07
Episode 7: 08.05.07
Episode 8: 09.05.07
Episode 9: 10.05.07
Episode 1011.05.07
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