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OU on the BBC: Empire - Making A Fortune

Updated Wednesday 14th March 2012

Jeremy Paxman continues his personal view of Empire with a consideration of how money shaped - and distorted - activities.

Harvesting sugar cane in Jamaica Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Roi Brooks | Harvesting sugar cane in Jamaica 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.

Empire is a co-production between The Open University and the BBC.

Empire: Making A Fortune is first broadcast on BBC One in England & Northern Ireland on Monday, 19th March at 9.00pm. For iPlayer links, and other broadcast details, visit


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