On the face of it, John Spurling’s attempt to document the development of the British Empire in dramatic form, contained in a performance of 145 minutes, with 35 named characters played by nine actors, sounds an event as unlikely to succeed as the far flung Empire itself. But against all odds Mr Spurling has succeeded in putting over very atmospherically the sense of the fractured, sprawling size of it, the many individual obsessions which underpinned it, and above all the strange mixture of bravado, guts and courage which seemed to grip every Britisher caught up in it.’ (Ann Fitzgerald, The Stage); It ‘gradually becomes a trial of the British Empire itself... It has the intellectual excitement of Spurling’s best work.
Benedict Nightingale, The New Statesman
The British Empire (Part One) is another panoramic history. Unlike Guadeloupe, in which the separate stories are told in successive scenes, the six different stories here are interwoven, like coloured stripes in a Bridget Riley painting or tunes in a symphony. It was first produced by Peter Farago at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1980. The British Empire (Part One) was published, with an introduction by the author, by Marion Boyars in 1982.
This immensely vigorous and stirring epic, a major event that should not be missed
The Radio Times
As easy to listen to as the lightest half-hour comedy, but totally rewarding
The Guardian

Part One of The British Empire covers the period from roughly 1820 to the Indian Mutiny in 1957. The radio version, titled Dominion Over Palm and Pine (1982), was augmented by Parts Two and Three - The Christian Hero (1982) and The Day of Reckoning (1985) - carrying more interwoven stories up to the Boer War at the end of the 19th century and forming a 7-hour trilogy with a cast of over 200 characters.

The director was Richard Wortley, who also directed the radio versions of The Butcher of Baghdad and Heresy.