Published on Aug 29, 2014
Jeremy Paxman continues his personal account of Britain’s empire, looking at how the empire began as a pirates’ treasure hunt, grew into an informal empire based on trade and developed into a global financial network. He travels from Jamaica, where sugar made plantation owners rich on the backs of African slaves, to Calcutta, where British traders became the new princes of India.
Jeremy then heads to Hong Kong, where British-supplied opium threatened to turn the Chinese into a nation of drug addicts – leading to the brutal opium wars, in which Britain triumphed and took the island of Hong Kong as booty.
Unfair trading helped spark the independence movement in India, led by Mahatma Gandhi; in a former cotton spinning town in Lancashire, Jeremy meets two women who remember Gandhi’s extraordinary visit in 1931.