End of Empire

The British Empire was the largest in the history of the world. Brian Lapping explains how the end of that Empire was charted for television.

To fit the end of the British Empire into a television series is like trying to fit a camel into a brown paper parcel. The shape isn't convenient for the package.

Books on the Empire have a disconcerting habit: they dart about. Here we are in Singapore to learn about the surrender in 1942, then over to India for its most significant political consequences, then to the Middle East where the Empire is faring better, then south into Africa, whose men are by now fighting in Burma. It is not always easy to follow, even on the page, especially when the Government in London changes in the midst of several complicated developments in the colonies. A television series, competing always against a washing machine flood, a crying baby or an unexpected phone call, would be ill-advised to adopt the same method.

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