Blag Number: 187
Airs: 30th July 2007, Channel 4, 9:00pm
When I was asked to review the Empire's Children TV show I was a little taken aback by how I could turn it in to a blag. After all is it even possible to blag a TV show which can be watched for free (or the price of a TV licence) when it airs? Thankfully blags aren’t just characterised by monetary value, and as I’d be getting to watch the whole episode a week before it aired I decided that was more than enough to qualify it as a blag.
So what can you expect down your TV aerial when the calendar rolls over to 30th July and the clock strikes 9pm? Well this week it’s the turn of Jenny Eclair to uncover some skeletons from her past and share them with the world. For those who haven’t seem Empire's Children, it follows the family histories of figures in the public eye and how they have shaped the British ‘national identity’.
For Jenny this journey begins with the finding of a photo of murdered Chinese terrorists, which was kept by her father. Building from this, and making sure to emphasise how she shows no suspicion of her father, Jenny visits Malaysia to learn more about her heritage. Whilst there she learns more about her father, visits her childhood home and explores the land where she grew up.
Although at first the documentary starts out rather confusing and jumbled - this isn’t really something you can slip in to, and is rather heavy viewing – things become clearer after the first ten minutes once Jenny stops looking at football pitches and watch stands and starts to really get in to the heart of what her father went through in the Malaysian Emergency, a long forgotten British Empire battle.
By far the most interesting conversation in the show comes at the 30 minute mark where Jenny debates the Malaysian Emergency, with the son of a Chinese survivor. Given that both speakers opinions are shaped by stories of their fathers it’s a interesting conversation and one that leads to Jenny breaking down in to tears, concerned that what she says may upset her father. Clearly this is a conflict where little is understood and that’s why the history-lesson clips shown during Jenny’s journey will help you to shape your own opinions.
As these opinions arrive the documentary starts to become clearer and it’s certain that coming in to the show Jenny had little opinions of her own, other than stories told to her by her father. This helps give the show a certain heart and as Jenny discovers things, so too does the viewer. Although there’s no real conclusion, it’s Jenny’s mind where the real journey has taken place, and from start to finish she is given more education on her heritage than most people gather in their whole lives.
If this sounds like an interesting journey, then you can catch the show on Channel 4 on the 30th July at 9pm or view it after on 4od.