Colonial authorities wanted to censor the famine. They were worried that Britain’s wartime enemies - the Germans and the Japanese - would use it as propaganda against them.

But as more and more starving people arrive in cities across Bengal, it becomes harder to suppress. Indian writers, photographers and artists document the humanitarian catastrophe, but it was risky as the censor forbade mention of the word famine. A British journalist and editor of the English language Statesman newspaper, in Calcutta, decides to challenge the censor and begins publishing photographs and then scathing editorials about what is really going on in Bengal. It shocks the world. In London, the BBC reports on “famine conditions” and, as we uncover, the British government tries to pressurize the broadcaster to tone down its coverage.

Presenter Kavita Puri

Series Producer: Ant Adeane

Editor: Emma Rippon

Sound design and mix: Eloise Whitmore

Production Coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Sabine Schereck

Original music: Felix Taylor

With thanks to Dr Janam Mukherjee, Professor Joya Chatterji and Dr Diya Gupta.

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