This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Last updated at 17:23 BST, Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The special relationship


On the day that American President Barack Obama arrives in the UK, we look at 'the special relationship' between the UK and the USA. Listen to this programme to find out more.

American President Barack Obama

President Obama is visiting the UK

The script for this programme

William: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak, I'm William Kremer.

Yang Li: And I'm Yang Li.

William: Let me play you something, Li.

British national anthem.

Yang Li: Oh, God Save the Queen; the British national anthem. Are you in a patriotic mood, William?

William: Ah, but wait...

USA national anthem.

Yang Li: Eh? The Star Spangled Banner - The American National Anthem. But this is the BBC, William!! British Broadcasting Corporation!

William: Yeah, I know, Li. But a very special visitor is coming to Britain today. Barack Obama is visiting the UK on a three-day state visit.

Yang Li: Ah, yhat's right. But tell me something, William, be honest. Do the Brits and Americans like each other?

William: Well, that's a very difficult question to answer in ninety seconds, Li. But it's fair to say that our two countries have a lot in common. Not only do we share the same language but economically and politically Britain and the USA have a close connection. And this connection is often called the special relationship.

Yang Li: The special relationship.

William: Here are a few examples of this phrase being used, which I found on the BBC website:


Britain's former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, talks to Katty Kay about recent remarks in which he described the 'special relationship' between America and Britain as a fiction that should be dropped.

Isabel Hilton and guests discuss the past, present and future of what people on this side of the Atlantic like to call 'the special relationship' between Britain and America. But is it really that special?

Files newly released by the Wikileaks website highlight what is described as the UK's 'paranoia' about its so-called special relationship with the US.

Yang Li: It sounds like people are starting to question how special the special relationship is!

William: Well, that might be true, and you can see that this is an issue that is easier to talk about because there is a special phrase for it.

Yang Li: So does the UK have a special relationship with other countries too?

William: Yeah, of course. And occasionally you might read about 'a special relationship with Australia' or 'a special relationship with India', for example. But the phrase 'the special relationship' by itself usually refers to the USA and Britain.

Yang Li: We have a special relationship, don't we William?

Yeah, of course we do, Yang Li! And do you think our special relationship is like the special relationship?

Yang Li: Well, that depends, who is who in this relationship? Am I the USA or am I the UK?!

William: Hmm. Well, that's an interesting question but also quite a strange one! So let's end today's programme there. Bye bye!

Yang Li: Can I be America? I can take you for a ride in my Cadillac!


Latest programmes: