This Sceptred Isle: Empire is a narrative history of the British Empire from Ireland in the 12th century to the independence of India in the 20th, told in 90 programmes.
This first run of 30 programmes (broadcast every week day at 3.45pm from Monday 26 September 2005 for six weeks) starts with the story of King Henry the Second and Ireland - "the first colony". As the series progresses, it includes many famous names such as Cabot, Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins and Raleigh.
The first series also examines topics such as: the creation of the East India Company; the growth of West Indian sugar as a commercially vital crop, and the growth of slavery as a means of supporting it; Clive of India; and the eventual success, after many disasters, of the colonies of North America, culminating in their independence and departure from the Empire in 1783.
These programmes follow on from the hugely successful and award-winning series of This Sceptred Isle. The scripts are once again written by Christopher Lee. The narrator for the new series is Juliet Stevenson. Contemporary source documents (including many fascinating letters, logs and diaries) are read by Rob Brydon, Anna Massey, Martin Freeman, Robert Powell and Mark Heap.
The ninety episodes will be broadcast in three segments:
Series 1: 26 September - 4 November 2005, Monday to Friday at 3.45pm.
Series 2: 30 January - 10 March 2006, Monday to Friday at 3.45pm.
Series 3: 8 May - 16 June 2006, Monday to Friday at 3.45pm.