Lenny Henry: The Commonwealth Kid (2018) Movie Script

MUSIC: Mango Walk
by The In Crowd
I'm Lenny Henry,
born and bred in the UK.
I've worked as a comedian and actor
for the last 40 years,
but my roots are here
in the Caribbean.
Long ago, my Jamaican parents
went to the UK,
part of a generation that migrated
to the mother country
in the late '50s.
They were part of
a newly formed Commonwealth
that saw Britain as a land of fresh
starts and new opportunities,
and their decision
has completely shaped my life.
I grew up in Dudley,
in the West Midlands.
In the '50s, my parents emigrated
from Jamaica
to Dudley.
What was my dad thinking?
JAMAICAN ACCENT: "Bloody blue sky
all the time."
"I want hail and sleet and snow!"
"All this joyous reggae music.
"Where can a man get
some Des O'Connor?!"
Now I'm off on a Caribbean journey
to delve deeper into my own family's
Commonwealth story.
PUPILS: Good morning, Mr Henry.
I'm English,
but I also feel a bit Jamaican.
Never had breadfruit? Are you sure
you're really Jamaican?
How dare you! Well, I'm from Dudley,
so it's a different thing.
I want to find out more about
the world my parents came from
and the family they left behind.
Love you, man. I love you, too.
And I'll walk in
my ancestors' footsteps
to explore the part they played
in the building of the Commonwealth.
I understand that they were
relatively reasonable slave owners.
The Commonwealth made me who I am,
but what does it still matter,
and can it survive?
How is the wealth going to be
common in the Commonwealth?
That's very good.
MUSIC: Here Comes Trouble
by Chronixx
I feel a close bond
between Britain and Jamaica.
What is this thing
called the Commonwealth
that links our countries
It's a family of 52 countries
bound together by common values
and traditions.
Uh-oh. It's 53 countries
since we filmed this.
The Gambia's rejoined.
When you look at it closely,
it doesn't add up to that much,
does it?
You know, is it about
culture, sport, music?
Art, politics?
60 years after my parents left,
I want to know if the Commonwealth
means anything
to young people today.
I'm beginning my journey
by going back to school.
St Jago's, in Kingston, Jamaica.
Time to impress with
my supreme teaching skills.
Wish me luck.
I don't need it, of course!
PUPILS: Good morning, Mr Henry.
Good morning.
Everybody, please take your seats.
CLASS: Thank you.
First thing I need to know is
who in your opinion is the toughest
person in this classroom?
Just make sure that anybody else
starts any trouble,
just control it, yeah?
Is there a Henry here?
SQUEAKILY: Oh, my gosh!
Are we related? Maybe.
I have to look at your face.
Do you think we're related?
Oh, my gosh. Have you got family
in Britain?
Yes, I have uncle.
PUTS ON ACCENT: You have a huncle?
Why you don't juss wave
at yuh huncle in de camera?
Hi, uncle. Hello, huncle.
How you doin'?
Hello to hauntie as well.
Are you ready for this?
ALL: Yeah!
Good! OK. Right.
What is the first thing that comes
to your mind
when I say Great Britain?
The weird accent.
This is a weird accent?
No, I like it. No, it's awesome.
And what do you think when somebody
says Great Britain to you?
Colonisation. Colonisation?
Oh, that's a good answer.
University? Yeah? That's the first
thing I think about.
You think about university?
Yeah. Is that where
you'd like to go?
Excuse me? Is that
where you'd like to go?
Is Jamaica in the Commonwealth?
Yes, sir.
How many people
live in the Commonwealth?
Gerald? About 2.7 million?
You're tough,
but you don't know the answer.
2.5 billion.
Yes, that's right!
You want a scholarship?
Who is the leader
of the Commonwealth?
Is it this person?
ALL: No!
Is it this person? Yes!
And who is this?
Queen Elizabeth II.
Who is the greatest athlete
in the world?
Usain Bolt.
I feel
sort of exhilarated, actually.
I don't know what I expected,
but I didn't expect that.
I think the mixture of the formality
of how I was greeted,
"Good morning, Mr Enry,"
and then the liveliness and
the sparkiness of how they were
once the session started
was actually quite joyous,
and I was surprised at how much
they knew about the Commonwealth.
I mean, I...
If you asked me that
a few years ago,
I wouldn't have been able to
tell you some of those things.
And I was charmed by everybody,
I thought it was wonderful.
This was the sort of school
I would've gone to
if I hadn't gone to Britain,
you know.
And I went to junior school,
and St James's,
and St John's Primary,
and the Rosland, and the Blue Coat.
I was born in Dudley,
Worcestershire, in 1958.
Back then, my family was part of
a large Caribbean community
in Britain.
In the '50s, Jamaicans were entitled
to settle in Britain
because of this strange thing
called the Commonwealth.
Now, in order to understand
the Commonwealth,
we first need to understand
where it came from,
and for that, I'm travelling to
another Caribbean island,
And if you were in any doubt about
the legacy of the British
in this region, check this out.
This is Falmouth over here.
Down here is English Harbour,
and right down there
is Nelson's Dockyard.
In the 17th century,
the British were drawn
to the Caribbean
because it was the perfect place
to feed a craze
that was sweeping through Europe -
There was money to be made,
and lots of it.
In need of a labour force,
the British shipped my ancestors
and millions like them
across the Atlantic from Africa,
and forced them to work
on the sugar plantations.
I want to find out
what life was like for slaves
when they arrived
in the Caribbean.
I'm here to meet
historian Reg Murphy.
As a native Antiguan
with an Irish name,
it's no surprise that he has
a healthy interest
in the complicated history
of the British in the Caribbean.
Hello. Hello.
Lenny Henry. Please to meet you.
Reg Murphy. Nice to meet you, Reg.
We study the remnants
of the British occupation.
This is British, except for this.
What's that? That's African. Oh!
This was made by
the enslaved people who came here.
How were the slaves treated?
It was fairly brutal.
When you have
that many people being oppressed,
you have to keep tight control.
So the British had
a very strong, oppressive system.
So all aspects of African origins
have been ethnically cleansed?
Yes, very effectively,
and that's why today
we have very little
in the way of African traditions.
We've lost all of the...
There's no drumming in Antigua,
like there used to be.
Antigua essentially became
very British in its way of thinking,
its lifestyle. How does all of this
relate to the Commonwealth?
This is at the roots
of the Commonwealth.
This is where it all started.
It's a bittersweet relationship.
I think, you know, we sort of all
resent where we came from
and the way things were,
but when you look at it
in the bigger perspective,
all of these islands and countries
have a unique history
that stemmed from Britain.
It's our root.
You're a major Don.
Thank you so much for giving us
this time.
You've given me a real insight
into this.
Reg certainly doesn't shy away
from the horrors of the past.
And it's something
that makes the Commonwealth
such a complicated legacy.
To some, it's a positive thing,
and to others, it's a grim reminder
of all the ills of Empire.
And that deep contradiction
is reflected in me,
and the person I am today.
Sir Lenworth Henry,
for services to drama,
and to charity.
Two years ago,
I became Sir Lenny Henry,
Knight Bachelor.
As a descendant of slaves
from Africa,
accepting that honour
was a decision I wrestled with.
Even today,
the relics of that empire
dominate the Caribbean landscape.
Whenever I've been
to Jamaica before,
I've always
tried to avoid places
with the name plantation in
the title, and, um,
this is the first time I've come to
somewhere willingly
and had a look around.
The manpower that would've been
looking after a place like this
back in the day would've been
somebody that looked me.
Hello. Sir Lenny. Am I supposed to
call you Sir Lenny, or Lenny?
You may tug a forelock if you wish.
How nice to meet you.
Lovely to meet you, too.
I'm Christelle. Welcome to Hampden.
Well, it's very nice
to be welcomed here. It's beautiful.
Hampden Estate covers 3,500 acres
in north-west Jamaica,
and, during the time
of the British Empire,
there were 400 slaves working here.
Christelle Harris, whose family
owns the plantation,
is my host.
So this is the house that rum built?
Yes, definitely.
This is the house that rum built.
Isn't it tempting to be
around all this alcohol?
Yes, but we're not here
to talk about my imbibing.
And is there still money
in sugar and rum?
Sugar has become more difficult,
but, on the other hand,
rum is still very profitable.
I have to say, I feel
very unsettled being here today.
I mean, the burden of the history
of a place like this
must affect you?
Absolutely. You know,
that's something that I am very,
very passionate about addressing,
because I believe if we do not
address the history,
which is somewhat dark
and is uncomfortable to talk about,
we're not giving any credit
to the ones who actually
broke the barriers.
But funny enough,
at Hampden,
it is said
that it was one of the most...
It was one
of the friendliest estates.
Between the slave owners
and the slaves? Yes.
So for me, I get
a bit of consolation from that,
even though
I had nothing to do with it.
I do have a benefit, I do have that
benefit of that consolation,
but it's a dark part of our history.
The work on a plantation
was backbreaking.
The cane had to be cut down,
and then transported to the mill,
often in blazing heat.
From the moment my ancestors
on Caribbean soil,
their average life expectancy
was just nine years.
Nowadays, here at Hampden,
the sugar cane they still grow
is used to make
Jamaica's other great export - rum.
Mr Wisdom? Yes. Welcome to Hampden.
Nice to see you.
What's your first name?
It's not Norman, is it?
No, it's Vivian. Vivian Wisdom? Yes.
OK, good.
So you're going to show me
around this place, yeah?
Definitely. Watch your head
as you go.
Jesus Christ!
I see you've got
some old stuff around here.
Ah, well some of these have been
here since the inception.
So we're going to be walking amongst
things that have been here
since the very beginning
of the distillery?
Once the sugar cane
has been harvested,
its juice is boiled,
and turned into molasses.
So what's this guy doing? He's
measuring the molasses that's added,
and you can actually distinctly
taste the molasses in there.
Let me get a couple more of those.
Just joking!
Fermented molasses and cane juice
bubble away,
and are constantly mixed,
known as plunging the muck pit.
He's plunging the muck.
It stinks.
Well... Wanna try?!
..it gives a rich aroma
of organic acids.
Some people might... That's one of
the things it smells like.
I'm starting to get good at this.
With the muck expertly plunged,
it can now be distilled,
and stored in barrels.
I feel like I'm in
Pirates of the Caribbean.
We can get this
in the overhead locker, couldn't we?
Shall we go and taste some? Yes.
My main recollection of rum
is my mum pouring gallons
of the stuff
over her Christmas cakes.
But Vivian made it clear
there's a slightly
more serious side.
So can I taste this one?
Well, you want to smell first.
You want to appreciate...
Smell it first?
PUTS ON ACCENT: Appreciate first?
Yes. Don't just glug it down?
No, no.
Sip. Yes.
That's fantastic!
I've never drunk rum
like this before.
Well, welcome to Hampden!
Cut to two hours later.
# ..I love you!#
Can I call you Norman?
You is a Norman to me
beca yuh feel a Norman.
I was asking Christelle what
it feels like to be in a place
that has a legacy
of slave employment.
When you look at it
as a Jamaican growing up,
you accept the fact that, yes,
erm, slavery existed here.
On the plantations even now,
there's still some remnants of it,
because citizens that live around,
they don't own the land.
Most of the lands around
a plantation anywhere in Jamaica
is still owned
by the plantation owner.
But I understand that they were
relatively reasonable slave owners.
And for that,
this great house was never burned.
This place never got burned down?
Right. Because the slaves reckoned,
well, these guys are all right.
They was OK.
From the minute I arrived,
I felt a slight feeling of
foreboding in my stomach, because...
..you're pretty much walking into
history here, you know?
This is where slaves worked
over 200 years ago.
And you just feel that these things
as a proper reminder of...
..what the empire was like,
all those years ago.
Christelle is part of
the ownership matrix of this place,
and Vivian is
the descendant of slaves,
and so am I. So, you know...
..it is an odd mixture.
And it is a weird bubble to be in.
And I...
I loved the rum, but I kind of
want to get out of here now
because it makes me feel odd,
this place.
In 1833, slavery was abolished
by an act of Parliament.
Slave owners received 20 million
in compensation,
representing some 40% of
the Treasury's spending budget
for that year.
The slaves received nothing.
There was no way my ancestors
and people like them,
who had been forcibly brought
to the Caribbean,
could now go back to Africa.
So they were stuck here,
desolate and destitute,
as subjects of the British Empire.
But around them,
that empire was changing.
And by the time of the world wars,
the Commonwealth family of nations
were fighting together
for a common goal.
After the Second World War,
Britain needed help to rebuild,
which is why Commonwealth citizens
like my family
were given the right
to live in the UK.
This is where the Henrys come in.
My parents moved from this country
in the '50s to Britain,
and suddenly here I am,
born in Britain in 1958.
I'm English,
I'm going to school,
I'm mixing with people,
I'm speaking the way they do.
So I think that journey of being
in slavery, and then Jamaica,
and then going to the UK,
I think it's all
part of a big thing,
and I'm in the middle of it.
SKA BEA So I do feel like a Brit...
MUSIC: Watermelon Man
by The Baba Brooks Band
..but I feel Jamaican as well.
I've never been absolutely sure
where home is.
This must be an experience shared by
Commonwealth kids around the world.
I'm back in Kingston,
and I want to find out what my older
brother Seymour thinks about this.
He was born here, and didn't join us
in the UK until he was 17,
and he's far more Jamaican
than I am.
You all right?
Good to see you. Hey there, Lenny.
Now Seymour splits his time between
England and Jamaica,
and is here with our cousin Elaine.
My pleasure. You lead the way.
Come on in.
You were born in Jamaica.
When Mum decided
she was going to go in '57,
how did that affect everything?
It was just like she's going
to the market on a Friday night,
and returning
on a Saturday evening.
So we thought...
It looks like over the years
that we didn't see her,
it looks like that,
as an extended long time.
That's a long trip to the market.
A long trip to the market!
Did Mum used to write letters
to you and say "England's like this,
"England's like that?"
What we got was a letter to Dad
saying whatever she said. What we
were looking for was the content.
"What's in the letter?"
What, money? Yes!
Mum goes to Britain and then she's
going to send for people one by one.
One by one. So Dad and Kay
went first...
Uh-huh. Then Bev...
Then Hilton. Then Hilton.
Then you. Then, the last one.
You were the last one
that came over.
What year did you come over
to Britain? '61.
And I met you then!
It was Christmas come early.
For me, there were so many
advantages to growing up in the UK.
But it meant that our family
was divided between two worlds.
I mean, I remember up to a point
I'd never been to Jamaica,
but I felt like I knew more about
Jamaica from everybody's stories
than even if I'd been in Jamaica.
If I hadn't gone into show business,
I wouldn't have been able
to come as often as I've been here.
I know you're not supposed to have
regrets, but I regret not...
..knowing more of my family.
I've always been jealous of
Seymour's connection
with family in Jamaica.
I understand your jealousies,
but it is understandable,
because you were born in Britain.
So, you know, you would not really
have that kind of connection.
You probably would not have had
many persons to interact with.
I wanted to kind of get a sense of
where our family was,
back in the day,
where Mum was escaping from,
where this bit of land might be.
Because you've talked about
Labedy before.
Labedy would be somewhere in here.
Labedy is a tiny patch of land
where my mum grew up.
I've always wanted to go there
and see it for myself.
How long will that take to get from
Kingston to Labedy, do you think?
Er...hour and 45?
MUSIC: Storm Warning
by Lynn Taitt and The Comets
I'm excited to finally be visiting
the place that my mum left
all those years ago.
What's this? This is my old school.
No?! Yes.
We all went here.
For lunch, you used to bring
a tinned piece of yam
and a breadfruit.
And you used to have a kitchen
at the back that they'd cook it.
I can't imagine doing that
in Dudley.
I don't think so!
Show up with a potato
and a lamb chop
and give it to the dinner lady.
Yes, yes.
Have you got a double passport,
or have you got two passports?
I have one. British passport?
Mm-hm. Oh, OK. Yeah.
If you had the opportunity between
a British passport
and a Jamaican passport,
which one would you have?
That's an unfair question.
Is it? Yeah.
Your honour, I put it to you
that this is a fair question.
US ACCENT: And answer
our goddamn questions!
British or Jamaican passport?!
I would hold on to my British.
Because? With great difficulty.
Because of the way it allows you
to move?
Yeah. Yeah.
Going to France, I can just go.
Go to Germany, same thing.
If I have a Jamaican passport,
I get grief.
Come on, we'll go where
Mum used to live.
OK. You lead the way, because
I've got no idea where I'm going.
OK, follow me. OK.
Seymour comes up here all the time,
but I've never seen this...
..the actual spot
where my mum grew up.
Mum's little piece of land.
I thought there'd be a house here.
50 years is a long time, you know?
Even though it's a short time.
I can't imagine living...
It seems so remote.
It is remote.
I mean, it's sort of magical
and weird and strange.
You can hear them.
There's like a big stone
in my heart now,
it's, like, huge.
Because I see now
why she had to go.
If this was it.
Yeah. I'm going to go
and have a butcher's.
What you used to say all the time
to Mum and Dad was,
"Why did you leave Jamaica?"
Particularly after I'd been here
the first time,
shortly after I got married,
I said, "Why did you leave?"
You know?
And that's because you stay
at Montego Bay, at a nice hotel
and, you know, it's nice.
But then when you come out
to country and you see this,
you kind of start to realise,
the penny begins to drop,
and it all makes sense now.
I don't think
I can look at this any more,
it's so sad.
Come on, let's go and look
at Grandmother's house. OK.
The land go back
to all the way down there.
You seem right, here,
you fit in here.
I'm home.
I feel very strongly from Dudley,
but when I came back to Jamaica,
I went, oh! Oh, there's a...
There's an alternative. And I felt
the same when I went to Ethiopia
for the first time, actually.
Sort of like, oh, my God,
I felt a real jolt of...belonging.
So when I'm in Jamaica
I kind of go, OK, this is...
This is good, I sort of belong here.
But then somebody goes,
"Mr English Man!
"You have any tea?!"
The minute they say that,
it all falls apart.
Yes, the thing is... "Foreigner!"
Yeah. I'm a foreigner
when I come here.
So, what are all these...?
These are all tombs?
Yeah. Mammy tomb...
What? ..your brothers,
Your siblings are over there.
That's so sad,
seeing those tiny graves like that.
I've never been here before.
This is the first I knew,
so to come up here and find graves
of my family members
is devastating.
I never knew this was here,
and I think
it's an extraordinary place.
Tough existence. Yeah.
This is a testament to that,
isn't it?
Would she have lost children
because lack of help,
or not being able to get
to the hospital in time,
or why would she...?
Or just complications?
Erm, she's carrying 40lb
on her head
from three miles away,
and walking up these hills,
as you'll notice, isn't easy.
And she used to do that
knowing that she was pregnant.
That could be a thing.
You know?
A harsh life.
But this is roots,
you know what I mean?
This is proper roots, isn't it?
This is roots, yeah.
Give me a hug! I need to hug you
now, I have to hug you now!
TEARILY: Oh, gosh!
Love you, man!
WEEPILY: I love you, too!
It's all there.
I had no idea
what I was going to find up there,
and suddenly I'm looking
at all these tiny gravestones,
it's like a scene
from a Dickensian novel, you know?
There's all these little graves,
and I do remember my mum
saying that
she'd lost some babies in childbirth
when she was younger,
but I never dreamt I'd be seeing
those gravestones now.
I really, really felt for my mum,
I really felt for my mum.
In the end, she made
the decision to leave this
and to go to Britain,
and to find
an alternate way of being,
because this way wasn't working.
I've always carried so many
unanswered questions with me
about who I am,
and where I belong.
Visiting Labedy for myself has
helped me to understand
why my mum made
the decision she did to leave.
And why I ended up
as a Commonwealth kid.
But during all the years
I've worked in Britain,
I've often wondered how things
would have turned out
if I'd grown up in Jamaica.
I'm about to pay a surprise visit
to a mate of mine
who's rehearsing a play in here.
I've not seen him for ages.
And I'm going to be
as quiet as a mouse.
He won't know I'm here!
Because of what happened at the...
Hello, Oliver!
How are you?
Look at you! Oh, look at you!
Some of you might recognise
Oliver Samuels.
He played my dad in Chef!
Excuse me, mate, could I get
a bag of chips
and a nice piece of
'addock to take away?
Hello, Dad.
Hello, Gareth!
Because I grew up in Britain,
I didn't really know who was funny
in Jamaica,
and the name that kept cropping up
was your name.
But you, too,
were very, very popular here.
Well, Lenny, listen now... Were!
At the time, we were young...
I'm leaving!
We were young people!
And I'm sure you still are!
I wonder what it would have been
like if I'd been born in Jamaica,
actually. I often think that.
If I were born in England,
I probably would not have been
the person I am.
And you the same,
or you would be me,
and I would be you.
Do you feel that being from Jamaica
has been any hindrance
to your career?
No, no, none, none whatsoever.
And Jamaica is the place
that I want to be,
Jamaica is where I was born.
I am addicted to my country.
And if I have had the great
privilege of being able to work here
and take my work abroad,
so I have it...
..all, basically!
This programme is about
the Commonwealth
and about whether it's still
whether it's still doing
what it's supposed to do.
We might have inherited
some kind of stuff
like educational systems and...
You say the standard of education
here is very...
High, here.
And I will credit that to the
British system that we inherited.
So, there's a sense of...
Britain is still important in
the scheme of things, you think?
For older folk, sometimes you even,
to this day,
you hear them talk about,
we should a still under England,
we should a still under the Queen,
and all that kind of stuff.
And manners, and courtesy.
But, hey, generations.
My mum and dad
just had to get out of Jamaica,
they couldn't stay
because they would have starved.
Think about it, too,
was that England was at the time
the place to go to
and try to make a living
for your family
and for those you've left behind.
People were invited to come,
weren't they? Mm-hm.
The nurses and factory workers
helped to rebuild Britain
after World War II.
It's changing a bit now with...
It's changed.
It's changed. Yeah!
Do you think the Commonwealth
has helped your...?
The fact that we're in
a Commonwealth has helped you at all
in your career?
The Commonwealth
has helped because the...
..Jamaicans took my work
and pirated it,
and it propelled me
to another level! So...!
So, piracy has played a big part
in your career!
Piracy has played a very,
very big part in my career,
because this show was pirated,
and these workers from Jamaica
living in those areas took it on.
Yeah. I was invited
all over the place,
all over the place, to come and...
PUTS ON ACCENT: Well, Oliver,
me love you still, you know!
Me love you still, me too!
Who knows what I would have
ended up being if my mum had stayed?
Maybe Oliver would have had
some competition!
Jamaica has been independent
since 1962,
and it HAS changed for the better.
So, what role does
the Commonwealth play here today?
I hit the streets to find out.
Do you know what
the Commonwealth does for Jamaica?
Not really.
It's all about coming together,
we do need each other,
today, or tomorrow.
Something to beg,
or something to borrow.
As human beings, we are never
totally independent of each other.
Does the Commonwealth affect you?
Commonwealth affect everybody,
not only me alone,
everybody in the Caribbean.
Well, it means a lot to me,
because...without it,
we as a people
wouldn't...have certain...things.
You were absolutely winging that,
weren't you?
Yes, I was! You were making that up
as you went along!
Yes, I was! Do you have any idea
what the Commonwealth is?
No, not really!
So, you're the first Jamaican MP
with locks... Yeah.
OFF-SCREEN: Academic Damion Crawford
was an MP in
the Jamaican Parliament.
Does he think the Commonwealth
is still relevant today?
Commonwealth have to redefine
what it means
to be a part of the Commonwealth.
Ah, that's interesting.
Because we've been talking
to lots of people
where they don't really have
a sense of
what the Commonwealth actually does.
Yeah, and one benefit originally for
the Commonwealth was, for example,
no visas, so people in Jamaica
would have seen a direct benefit
to being a part of the Commonwealth.
I can visit London and England
without a visa.
In fact, I might be able to even
move to London and England
without a visa. Because it seems
to me that people in this country
are very, very influenced,
like we all are, by American media,
music, culture...
What America has learned
before many others
is that there is going to be
a global culture.
For example, almost any country,
there's a Burger King.
That's a global culture.
If you were able to make fish and
chips be as acceptable as burgers,
how much money would you make?
But there's no fish and chips shop
in Jamaica.
IN ACCENT: You have plenty
fishermen, though.
But no fish and chips shops.
Well, we should form a business!
Damion and Lenny's Fish and Chips!
That's brilliant.
You're a fine, righteous person.
So, in a globalised world,
it seems that keeping
the Commonwealth relevant
is a colossal challenge.
Its 53 countries cover almost
a quarter of the world's landmass,
and are home to 2.4 billion people.
There seems to be a varying opinion
about why the Commonwealth
is important,
and what the Commonwealth is for,
but what people seem to be certain
is sport's dominance in the region.
MUSIC: Soul Limbo
by Booker T and The MGs
What is the one thing, the ONE
THING, that unites the Commonwealth?
Is it language, is it Shakespeare?
Turns out it's cricket.
My father would agree.
These guys are serious contenders
for the West Indies team.
As a kid, I remember my dad
torturing us
with hours in front of the box
watching his beloved cricket.
I on the other hand
was never quite bitten by the bug.
But I'm hoping these young cricket
stars might help me
to finally see
the error of my ways.
So, does cricket
unify the Commonwealth?
It does unify the Commonwealth,
and just people on the whole
in the countries.
Is cricket the best thing
the British left behind?
The answer is already known.
Yes, it has to be the best thing
that the British left behind.
It gives us a bit more joy
when cricket is being played,
because of that historical
that there is to cricket.
I'd like to learn how to bowl.
My parents are Jamaican,
so I reckon there's a bowler
in me here somewhere.
Here goes Lenny.
A man whose greatest sporting
achievement to date
was a width across Dudley baths
is now going to take the field.
I should have a hat!
I think the hat's...
I think not having a hat
is affecting...!
Is that all right?
Yeah, that was good!
That was good.
That was good, man.
I can see my name in lights now.
Lenworth Henry
for the West Indies...
Cricket remains huge
across the Commonwealth,
but in Jamaica today,
it's another sport
that holds the undisputed crown,
Just kidding! It's athletics!
MUSIC: D'accord Dakar
by Ernest Ranglin
We're at Sprint Tech,
one of Jamaica's top athletics
training academies,
and I'm going to meet
some world-class athletes
who are training
for the next Commonwealth Games.
What's up, Lenny? How are you doing?
Nice to meet you. You guys
are proper athletes, yeah?
Yeah. Yeah, we're doing our thing.
You're doing your thing.
STEVE CRAM: It's going to be
Rasheed Dwyer.
Rasheed Dwyer is the current
200m Commonwealth champion.
Look at him go!
Can he hang on?
Dwyer gets it!
The Commonwealth Games
is a really good Games,
atmosphere is really good.
The Commonwealth is every...
Every four years,
same as the Olympics. OK.
So, it's a long gap
between your events.
At least I'm the Commonwealth
champion for four years, right?!
Sashalee Forbes represented Jamaica
at the last Olympics
and is a 100m and 200m sprinter.
100m AND 200m, that's a lot,
isn't it?
Couldn't you just do one?
You have to show off?!
I'm good at both!
You're good at both, OK!
That's how you roll! Yeah.
Where does the Commonwealth Games
rate in your ambitions?
Well, basically it was
a stepping stone in my career,
so really up there.
But overall,
it's actually ranked third.
It's ranked third? Yeah.
So, what are the other ones?
Olympics, World Championships,
then the Commonwealth Games.
And how are you feeling today,
are you ready to take me on?
100m, let's do it.
OK, kids, enough larking about,
it's showtime!
The blue-ribbon event, the 100m.
Henry in black, representing Dudley,
just by Greg's house,
across the park from Max.
And the huge crowd is expecting
something extraordinary...
MUSIC: Chariots of Fire
by Vangelis
And there it is!
Now, as we all know,
athletics is all about
the celebration.
And I'm up there with the greatest!
Money all day! Money in the bank!
Jamaica's greatest icon
and eight-time Olympic champion
Usain Bolt won gold
at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
in Glasgow.
Some people have been telling me
that the Commonwealth is out of date
and irrelevant.
In some respects, it may be.
But when you see how things
like the Commonwealth Games
have not just survived
but flourished,
you realise what we can do
when we actually want to.
It does make you think,
it might be better to keep
the Commonwealth going
when it has the potential
to do this much good.
MUSIC: Here Comes Trouble
by Chronixx
Another rock steady...
See what we did there?
..Jamaican success story
has to be music.
I grew up in a house
full of reggae music,
and all my Dudley friends
liked reggae, too.
And I've managed to blag my way into
the hottest concert in Kingston!
I'm very excited,
because I'm at a Chronixx gig,
and, at the moment,
he's the biggest star in Jamaica.
Looks like the perfect place
to hear what people think
about the future
of the Commonwealth.
I'm a grandmother.
You're a grandmother! I am!
When somebody says Britain to you,
what do you think,
what comes to mind?
Yes... Yes.
Do you think the Commonwealth
is important any more?
Wow, fantastic.
I want to find out what people in
the Commonwealth
think about Britain,
now that we're going through
all this Brexit business.
Has the Commonwealth
lost its usefulness?
So far, I've seen how
the Commonwealth still has
a role to play in sport
and culture.
But what about business?
To survive or have any relevance
in today's world,
the numbers have got to stack up.
So, you can cook jerk food. When
was the last time you had some?
I've not had Jamaican food
for ages and ages and ages.
I'm having a yard-style power lunch
with entrepreneurs Gordon Swaby
and Randy McLaren.
We ate Jamaican food
all the time,
because Mum was a really good cook.
You know breadfruit, for sure...
No, I've never had breadfruit.
You've never had breadfruit?!
Are you sure you're really Jamaican?
How dare you! Well, I'm from Dudley,
so it's a different thing!
What about coconut water,
is that good?
Yeah, coconut water. That is great.
Because Lenny hasn't had that
in a while, you know!
It's been a while.
It's tough in London!
Lenny. Thank you.
Gordon is an internet entrepreneur,
and Randy sells locally-made bags
around the world.
Randy and I are aiming to list on
the stock exchange here in Jamaica
in about two years.
So, is the Commonwealth relevant
any more in the Caribbean,
or in Jamaica?
Well, Both Randy and I actually
benefited from
a Commonwealth youth award.
Randy and I got about 1,500...
So, there is a positive aspect...
You got 1,500?
Yeah, that helped. Well,
if you're employing five people now,
it clearly did something. It did.
But you know, outside of that,
I'm not sure of the relevance
of the Commonwealth in 2017.
I can give you another example.
There is a Young Leaders
of the Americas initiative
that's a US State Department
They provide opportunities for young
entrepreneurs in the Caribbean
and in Latin America
to go to the US
and you exchange ideas,
you're networking.
There is nothing like that to
my knowledge for the Commonwealth.
Let me ask you a bit, Lenny.
Yes, ask me questions!
You have Jamaican roots, right?
I do have Jamaican roots.
Erm, would you say that
the Commonwealth was relevant
to them?
They could go to Britain
and start a new life,
so, as far as that's concerned,
the Commonwealth was relevant.
But I mean, Jamaicans moving to
the States and other countries
without the aid of the Commonwealth.
So, really,
it almost feels like
you're actually trying to struggle
to find relevance!
It's almost
like you're searching for...
Hang on a second!
How could it work better?
I think that it needs
to be reimagined, rebranded,
not be called the Commonwealth
any more.
Implement initiatives
that can benefit youth,
because more than 50% of the world's
population is under 30 years old.
You have 52 member states
in the Commonwealth.
It's a lot of people, right? I think
that if initiatives can be created
that are all under one umbrella,
then it will be relevant.
How is it making a tangible
difference to somebody's life?
How is the wealth going to be common
in the Commonwealth?
That's very good! Making that
solid impact on the ground,
so that we see the importance of it,
and we actually believe
in this thing.
And we can make it great.
I have no doubt, young people,
people of different ages,
different backgrounds,
we can do amazing things
if you pull those energies
and efforts together.
And I'm encouraging you, Lenny,
to come back home!
When are you coming back home?
Because you enjoyed your meal.
I loved my meal!
Maybe I WAS struggling to find
a relevance to the Commonwealth.
But having spent this time
in the Caribbean,
I'm starting to believe it might
have a worthwhile future.
I was absolutely blown away
by those two,
they had opinions,
they were smart,
they've got their own businesses,
they're both businessmen,
and they had a real...critical sense
of how the Commonwealth could work.
And I like the idea
of rebranding it,
so it is taken away somewhat from
its origins of empire.
I thought all of that stuff
was very, very smart.
And I think that when
you've got attitudes like that,
you can conquer worlds.
My mum was very loyal
to the country of her birth.
She would have loved to hear
a fellow Jamaican
teasing me to return.
But what about the people
who travelled
in the opposite direction
to my mum?
Tens of thousands of expats
still call the Caribbean home.
Back in Antigua,
I popped in to visit some of them
at the Royal Navy Tot Club,
where one of the more intoxicating
traditions of the British Empire
is still practised.
You just made it, you just made it.
I did!
From the 1740s right up until 1970,
British sailors received
a daily tot of rum,
an equivalent to a large pub double.
I'm not sure how appropriate
this is going to be,
but I'm going to give it a shot, OK?
I might have to drink tea
for the rest of the night.
Good evening, everybody.
ALL: Evening.
The reading from today in naval
history for the 29th of November.
1791, Lieutenant William Broughton
of the brig Chatham
landed on Chatham Island, which
he claimed for the British Crown.
ALL: To ourselves!
As no-one else is liable
to concern themselves
with our Welfare... ..welfare.
..and the Queen, God Bless Her.
Give it ten minutes.
I did a face like my dad used to do.
Ah, yaa, yaa...
Sandy Perkins is a retired solicitor
who has made the Caribbean her home.
I came here temporarily,
but I've been here
only 17 years now.
Only 17 years!
How would you identify yourself?
I'm a Brit.
Do you think Britain
has lost her greatness?
We don't have an empire,
but we do have the Commonwealth,
and I think
we're all very fond of that.
One of the regulars here,
who moved to Antigua ten years ago,
is John Duffy.
I lived much of my early life
in Commonwealth countries.
Well, in fact, they were more Empire
in those days than Commonwealth.
My father was born in India,
his father was born in India.
It's sort of part of
what I grew up with.
So is the Commonwealth
relevant today, do you think?
I think it's probably more relevant
than it ever has been.
I mean, it's a community.
But unfortunately the British
Government now, because of Brexit,
are now coming to the Commonwealth
and saying,
"Please come and help us.
"We abandoned you 40 years ago,
but now we want your help."
Whereas we used to have a very good
relationship with the Commonwealth,
and I think that, hopefully,
that will come back again.
I've just been in the Tot Club,
which is this naval tradition
where you take a tot of rum.
It's really fascinating to see
people out of their original milieu
talking about how they see Britain.
And if we're going to have
a Commonwealth,
it needs to be more concrete than
it is at the moment.
Please forgive me
if I'm not being very... Erm.
..astute or accurate
in my use of language,
it's just that
I've had a very large glass of rum,
and I may or may not be
making sense.
On my journey to understand
the Commonwealth
and the connections between
and the family of nations
in the Caribbean,
there was one last place
I felt I had to visit.
Just 35 miles from the luxury
beaches and hotels of Antigua
lies its sister island, Barbuda.
How long do you think it's going to
take us to get there, Glenn?
Just about an hour,
hour and ten minutes or so.
Just weeks before we arrived,
two hurricanes reaching speeds
of 185mph swept across the region.
The island of Antigua
wasn't affected.
Tiny Barbuda
was directly in its path.
Hurricane Irma,
a storm the size of France,
has carved a destructive path
through the Caribbean.
Hundreds of families
now find themselves homeless.
So, Glenn, what was it like
just after the hurricane here?
The worst part is here in Antigua
we didn't have any communication
with the people on Barbuda,
and we could only imagine
the extent of the damages.
But when people started going over
and checking out,
when they came back,
they said it was total devastation.
I didn't realise Barbuda
was so flat.
It's like a pancake.
There used to be a big hotel there,
and Irma just demolished that.
It looks like a ghost town.
A ghost island.
This is the stuff I've only ever
seen on the news.
Close up,
you feel a sense of powerlessness,
and just how terrifying
it must have been.
Asha Frank was here that night.
She spent ten years in the UK before
returning home to the Caribbean.
Tell me about your time in Britain.
So I stayed in the UK
for about ten years,
and I was starting to lose
my Barbudan-ness.
And so, I said
"I need to come back."
Were you here the night of
the hurricane? Yes, I was.
And I just remember, like,
kind of...
..just being like,
"OK, it's gone to category four.
"OK, it's gone to category five.
OK, it's five plus plus."
And hearing all the different
reports that were coming in.
And we were getting really nervous.
We were getting really...
You know, this is something,
it doesn't even matter
how prepared you are,
this is Mother Nature now.
As yet, there are few signs
of reconstruction.
Hi, Lenny. Clifton?
Good to see you, man. Yes.
Nice to see you, too.
Yes. So where did you used to live?
Right here, in this house.
Oh, my God.
70-year-old British pensioner
Clifton Walbrook was at home alone.
So Irma just came and mashed you up?
I think it had it in for me,
you know?
And where are you living now?
Right there, my tent.
What was it like,
the night of the hurricane?
Oh, the night of the hurricane
was terrible.
I wasn't in here, I'm glad I wasn't.
I was in a community centre.
Slates were coming off the roof.
Yeah. You can hear
when they shatter.
Doors bursting,
or windows bursting open.
It must have been terrifying.
It was terrifying.
You're living in here? Yes.
My God.
It's the first time I've seen
the devastation
of a hurricane close-up.
If the Commonwealth is to have
any relevance in the modern world,
then surely it's to help out
your friends at a time like this?
Hurricane Irma destroyed
95% of the island's houses,
and the only hospital.
There was also
a tragic loss of life.
Can you tell me what happened
the night of the hurricane?
The night of the hurricane,
me and my two kids was here.
And I hear boom,
I end up here.
I grabbed him... Yeah?
..and his mother,
and we end up over there.
You ran over there? We don't run.
The wind carry us there.
We don't know how,
there's water, everything...
Uh-huh. We don't know nothing.
When we reached over there,
we couldn't find Carl.
That was my little one.
The force of the hurricane
destroyed Carl's house.
He, his wife and his son were blown
clean across the yard.
But then he realised that
his youngest boy, Carl Junior,
was missing.
He set out on a frantic search.
And we end up and find Carl
at the back,
round there.
So where was he?
Right by the stone.
When we find him,
he was still breathing, but...
..already gone.
OK. Yeah.
Two-year-old Carl
had suffered severe injuries.
Later that night, he died.
So what was going through your mind
when you couldn't find him?
Just a mess, cos I know
what's taking place.
I was just hoping that I find him
alive, but the Lord knows best.
I've had a mass of differing
emotions today, because...
..when things like this happen here,
it just happens
to the have-nots, really.
This kind of stuff
doesn't happen to the people
in the posh hotel.
I've learned a lot today.
It's made me feel very humble.
The devastation on Barbuda
is a stark reminder
of how fragile life can still be
in parts of the Caribbean.
It makes me realise that,
moving forward,
the Commonwealth has to be about
more than just sport
and shared culture.
For me, it also needs to be
a family of nations
that provides a helping hand
to each other
and shows solidarity
in times of trouble.
So I'm coming to the end
of my Caribbean journey.
I set off to explore how
the Commonwealth had shaped our past
and to find out if it still has
a role to play in our future.
Do you know, coming here I've met
people who have a bit of an idea
of what the Commonwealth means,
and I've met quite a lot of people
who have no idea what it means.
And I'm still a bit confused myself.
I thought I knew,
but I'm still a bit confused
about what it actually is.
Opinion is definitely divided.
Like any family,
the Commonwealth
is very complicated.
There are bits of its history
that I still struggle with.
Lots of its history, actually.
But if this journey
has shown me anything,
it's how valuable family is.
My mum would have loved the fact
that I came here with Seymour.
During the visit
to my grandmother's house,
we went to this place
behind her house
which turned out to be
a burial ground, a burial patch.
And there were
these three small graves.
And these were the graves
of three siblings
that my mother lost in childbirth
over 50 years ago,
..I didn't know
I was going to see that. And...
..it was very, very shocking.
And maybe in some ways
this trip, this whole journey,
is a subconscious honouring
of their memory.
I didn't even know
I was doing it, but...
..that's probably
what this trip is about.
It's me honouring their memory.
I'd like to think so, anyway.
I am the product of Jamaica,
and Great Britain,
and I'm never going to change that.
It's weird because,
growing up, I felt rootless,
and going to Africa
for Comic Relief,
and coming here for this,
I feel more rooted
than I've ever felt.
And I think, in the end,
the Commonwealth, good or bad,
is about all of us being one thing,
..we're going to keep changing
until we get it right.
We may never get it right,
but we're not going to stop trying.