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OU on the BBC: Commonwealth on Film

Updated Monday 23rd June 2014

In this series, filmmakers capture the rich diversity of the Commonwealth through intriguing historical footage. 

Woman from Commonwealth Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC

About the series

From the earliest newsreels to grand royal tours, from gritty documentaries to public information films this four-part series is loosely themed around the portrayals of Childhood, Home, Work and Free Time.

The film vaults offer a fascinating glimpse away from the Commonwealth Games and towards the daily lives of commonwealth citizens.

Across the four episodes, Commonwealth on Film reveals a young David Attenborough meeting the fisherwomen of a remote Fijian island; the workers on a newly planted 1950s Australian vineyard; writer Anthony Burgess revisiting his days as a teacher in Malaya.

We also see the first Nigerian TV station; the arrival in London of Barbados transport workers; ex-pat life in Malta; a fly on the wall study in a Canadian kindergarten; extracts from a Commonwealth Arts Festival and observations on Hong Kong from the intrepid Alan Whicker.

Explore the timeline

To complement the series, we've created an interactive timeline exploring the development of English, which was heavily influenced by colonialism.


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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