AIRDATE: Wednesday 4 November 2015 at 9.00pm on BBC Four
Episode 1 (of 4)
Dominic Sandbrook returns for another of his indepth and never less than riveting accessible documentary series.
In the years since the end of the Second World War, Britain has been a nation in decline: the loss of Empire, the collapse of industry, and the decline of political and economic influence in world affairs. However, there is one arena in which we can legitimately claim superpower status – our popular culture.
In the post-war years, Britain’s cultural contribution has been second to none, from music and fashion to art, film, literature and theatre. James Bond to Agatha Christie, Andrew Lloyd Webber to John Lennon, it is through our culture that the world now sees us.
In four one-hour episodes for BBC Two, historian Sandbrook argues that this is a contribution anchored firmly in our own past. A uniquely British culture, reflecting uniquely British values and outlooks which were first forged and articulated during the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian era. The same impulses, the same concerns, the same ambitions that drove our Victorian forbears remain the engine of our modern culture today.
In the first episode of Let Us Entertain You, 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 the South East.