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The New British Empire

Like the industrial revolution before it, our postwar culture is a success story built on geographical opportunism and an indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit. Just as the industrial revolution transformed British society, creating new wealth and a thriving mill-owning middle class, so too have money, marketing flair and creative invention underpinned our cultural development. It is, after all, a development that has been driven by a handful of inventive, single-minded, and savvy entrepreneurs, from J Arthur Rank to Brian Epstein and Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

In the first episode in the series, Dominic examines the way in which culture has become our newest export and a key part of our identity on the world stage. He argues that it is an industry every bit as much as shipbuilding or textile production - a commodity that has been manufactured, marketed and exported. And, like the industrial revolution, ours is a cultural revolution that has flourished in the old industrial regions and has drawn heavily on the former connections of empire. London may be a global cultural capital, but British culture owes as much to the industrial north and the echoes of our imperial past as it does to south east England.

Release date:

59 minutes

Last on

Thu 29 Sep 2016 00:15
BBC Two Scotland


Role Contributor
PresenterDominic Sandbrook
WriterDominic Sandbrook
Series ProducerAlexander Leith
DirectorAlexander Leith
Executive ProducerSteve Condie
Production CompanyOxford Scientific Films