In 1992, after four years as the BBC World Service Political Correspondent, I had the opportunity to make a five-programme radio series about the worldwide communist movement in the aftermath of the collapse of Soviet communism. 'What's Left of Communism?' was produced by Tanya Motie and researched by Shen Liknaitzky, and I am posting the audio of the programmes below with the blessing of the BBC World Service.
For the series, I interviewed veteran British communists including Harry Young, who had been in Moscow in the early 1920s, E.P. Thompson and Denis Healey. The series also took me round the world - to Cuba, to India (my first ever visit to a country which has loomed large in my life ever since), to Italy and to South Africa. Among pivotal communists I interviewed were Chris Hani in Johannesburg and Jyoti Basu in India.
BBC colleagues, notably Tim Whewell then in Moscow and Carrie Gracie in Beijing, also tracked down veterans in those key countries who feature particularly in the first programme of the series. The third programme - about West Bengal's communists - won the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union prize, a travel grant sufficiently ample to allow the production team to make a memorable visit to Vancouver.
Programme 1: the first 75 years
Three generations of the international communist movement in under thirty minutes - let me know if you think it works.
Programme 2: Cuba
Cuba in the 'special period', a time of turmoil and austerity - including the voices of Castro's critics, among them the novelist Cabrera Infante, as well as of his loyalists.
Programme 3: India
To Calcutta, and the extraordinary political dominance in West Bengal of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) - a pragmatic party posing as hardline ideologists.
Programme 4: Italy
The strongest communist party in the west - which failed to take advantage of the collapse of Italy's Christian Democrats and of the Socialist party.
Programme 5: South Africa
What was then the fastest growing Communist Party in the world, indeed about the only CP still in the rise - including an interview with the leader of the South African CP, Chris Hani, who was assassinated a few months later