What's coming up on 'Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate the British Empire?'
Al Murray returns to Sky HISTORY this month for his brand new show Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate the British Empire? It’s the third time, Al Murray and his comedic alter ego, The Pub Landlord, have appeared on the channel, following Why Does Everyone Hate the English? and Why Do the Brits Win Every War? The show is now available on catch up.
This time, Al will be examining a period of British history that is under the microscope today like no other – The British Empire. He will be visiting India, Jamaica, South Africa and Australia to take a global history lesson which unpicks the legacy of the empire and explores how it’s viewed by the modern citizens of each country.
Speaking about the new series, Al Murray explained: ‘There's an awful lot of confrontational debate about this topic. Rather than taking a stance, we're having a conversation.
‘The thing I found most interesting is how radically different the stories were in each of the four places. It turns out is there isn't one British Empire, and certainly not one empire story. They're all complex and difficult in their own way.
‘History is neither there to make us feel good, nor to make us feel bad. It's there for us to consider where we've come from. How other people want to feel about it, that's completely up to them.’
Al will also be joined by a local comedian in each country to explore the history of British colonial rule and what kind of legacy it left behind. Together, they’ll find out about the origins of British rule, its impact on the countries and how it continues to influence governance, culture and attitudes.
Read on below to find out what happens in each of the episodes.
Episode 1: India
Al’s road trip through British Imperial history first takes him to India, previously known as the ‘Jewel in the Empire’s Crown’. There is he accompanied by Anuvab Pal and the pair explore the truth behind the country’s railways built by the Empire and dive into the controversy surrounding the Kohinoor Diamond. Al also gets his kit off for reasons of historical accuracy in one of the world’s most polluted rivers.
Anuvab has mixed feelings about the British Empire, saying that he is very aware of both the good and the bad things that it brought to India. However, the younger generation doesn't seem to be quite as clued up on the issues. He explained: ‘I went to school in the 1980s, very much under the umbrella of empire still existing in Kolkata. I look at my kids’ generation, they have no notion of the British Empire.’
Episode 2: Jamaica
In Jamaica, Al meets up with Chris Daly to uncover the real story of the pirates of the Caribbean. He is also put to work on a sugar cane plantation to explore the barbaric realities of the slave trade and delves into the hidden history of Jamaica’s World War II heroes. Luckily for Al, there is just enough time for him to sample a few drops of local rum.
According to Chris, while the Jamaican people do acknowledge the history of the Empire, they are very focused on moving forward and hold little to no hostility towards the British. He said: ‘I can tell you a lot of us here are not willing to wait for handouts, we’re already moving with energy and speed to make our name count. People need to understand there’s a local energy, a local pride in being Jamaican. We’re now living in a situation where we have to take control, we have to take the reins.’
Episode 3: South Africa
Al travels to South Africa and is joined on his adventure by Loyiso Gola. They explore the Empire’s role in the gold rush and expose the deals that started apartheid, as well as the battlefield tactics that aren’t revealed in Michael Caine’s Zulu.
One of the key messages that Loyiso wanted to get across was just how much the British escalated the brutality of warfare and were originally responsible for creating concentration camps. He clarified: ‘I'm not saying Africans were never at war with each other, but I think there was a level of brutality that the British brought in with their mechanised weaponry [and concentration camps].’
Episode 4: Australia
Al ends his Imperial fact-finding mission by heading Down Under to uncover the truth about Captain Cook not really being a captain and learn how to snake whistle with a tribe elder. Along with Kevin Kropinyeri, Al explores the Empire-led land grabs and massacres that changed the face of Australia forever.
Kevin comes from Aboriginal ancestors and was keen to share the stories of their oppression with the world. He stated: ‘People don't know that Apartheid existed in Australia. That’s how my mum and my grandparents and my great-grandparents grew up. To be able to share these stories with people with an open mind, I felt like we were being heard. I'm not an angry person, but I am aware of some of the ugly truth from the past.’
Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate the British Empire? airs Mondays at 9pm on Sky HISTORY.