Victoria’s Empire, BBC1

by | Apr 29, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Our appreciation of Victora Wood as a comedy star has diminished in recent years (the rot set in with dinnerladies) but as a serious actress (in Housewife, 49) she has class and, as a travel documentary-maker, she’s slmost up there in the Michael Palin league.

What was good about it?

• As with Michael Palin, Victoria manages to mix quirky observations with a genuine, compassionate interest in the people and places she visits.

• Victoria was keen to see the good and bad about the British rule over India. There were many distasteful elements to the Raj, but the legacy of English speaking has served the country well and they do make a lovely cup of tea.

• Victoria’s observation on Calcutta’s English-style buildings erected by the Victorians. “Perhaps we thought, ‘We like the Bank of England and Leeds Town Hall, you will, too. What monumental arrogance!”

• We love a bit of aww-factor in our Sunday night travelogues and Victora didn’t disappoint, encountering cute lil oprhaned orang-utans in Borneo where humans had to teach them to climb.

• Victoria using a spoon to ensure the amount of birds’ nest soup (made from dried spit) she consumed was as tiny as possible. Barely an atom passed her lips.

• The sago worm.

• The little steam train to Darjeeling.

What was bad about it?

• Hong Kong seems like a horror show of capitalist greed these days ( (“Here we have a saying – we will respect your outfit, then we will respect you,” said Victoria’s companion. “It isn’t really my sort of place. I’m from Lancashire,” was Victoria’s view. “We don’t flaunt – we tut. I’d have a plain white toilet and a sign that said: ‘I am really rich. Now wash your hands’.”).

• The attempt to evaluate the impact of the British Empire petered out, diminishing this as a serious documentary. But we didn’t mind and Victoria Wood probably isn’t the best person to assess history; she’s better off concentrating on tea and cakes.T

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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