The Compass-logo

The Compass


More Information


United Kingdom






Sounds of the Forest

Nobody ever forgets the first time that they hear or see a tiger. But as Chris Watson discovers when he travels to Corbett National Park in India this is far from easy. What he uncovers is a fascinating relationship between the people and the forest environment in which listening plays a vital role. Amongst the dense vegetation you can hear far more than you can see. As a wildlife sound recordist from North East England, Chis is immediately exited by the range of new sounds he can hear; a...


The Sounds of the Lofoten Islands

Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson accompanies Sami Joiker, Andé Sombe, on a journey up a mountain on the Lofoten islands in Norway to explore the relationship between the sounds of the mountain, the people and the wildlife. As Chris discovers, for many Norwegians the soundscape is part of the fascination and attraction of the mountains. The mountains offer an escape from urban and man-made noise to Nature’s symphony which is composed amongst other things of the sounds of running water...


The Sounds of the Namib Desert

Beginning with a few solo notes from a group of birds (including sparrow doves and finches) before the first light of day and ending with the sounds of the wind in the darkness of the night, wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents a journey in sound from dawn to dusk in the Namib Desert in southern Africa. The Namib is dominated by two features; the sand and the wind. Both of these are constantly shifting and changing and so too are the sounds they produce. The wind is hugely...


The Sounds of the Maasai Mara

From the moment “you wake up in the morning become aware of sounds, the sounds of Africa“ says Saba Douglas Hamilton, a conservationist who was born and brought up in the Great Rift Valley. In the first of four programmes, wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson guides us on a journey in sound across the Plains to hear the world as you’ve never heard it before and explores the relationship between the soundscape, the people and the wildlife. The great savannah wilderness of the Maasai...



What do we do when antibiotics don’t work? Since the discovery of Penicillin antibiotics have come to underpin all of modern medicine – birth by Cesarean section, hip replacements, organ transplantation, caring for wounds on diabetic patients. None of this would be possible without effective antibiotics. But the medicines we depend are under threat. Decades of overuse has allowed the bacteria that makes us ill to evolve to resist treatment - and this resistance is spreading. In the very near...


Flesh is Weak, so Upgrade

We all only get one body, and that has to see us through our entire lives. The idea of failing health is a very visceral fear for the majority of people in the world. It is inevitable, is it not? But with advances in medicine and technology the future might not involve simply growing old gracefully. We might upgrade in order to level up our natural abilities, extend our lives or consign pain and infirmity to history. Aleks Krotoski and Ben Hammersley find out how to future proof our actual...


Who Owns Your Data?

Big Data has been called the new crude oil, a seemingly inexhaustible resource that can use this data to make our lives better. Data can be used to create smart cities that make life easier for all of us, or to spur on new discoveries in medical science and even stop the next pandemic in its tracks. If used correctly it will be a boom for humanity. But behind Big Data are millions of individual people - including you and me. From the most innocuous picture on Instagram, to how many steps you...



What humans do to earn a living has always evolved to suit the needs of society, and the capabilities of the technology at our disposal. But thanks to the rapid development of artificial intelligence and automation we are on the cusp of a whole new Industrial Revolution. Manual and low skilled labour are already feeling the impact of automation – Amazon is experimenting with delivery drones, the fast food industry may soon be staffed with burger-flipping bots, and driverless vehicles are...



Aleks Krotoski and Ben Hammersley discover how to prepare for the social, economic and technological changes that are coming in the next few decades so we can all thrive in the future. In the past the only places you were likely to see robots was on the big screen or on the factory floor, but now they are entering the home. In fact you may already have an Alexa to play a favourite tune or settle a debate with a quick Google search. If you are lucky there is a Roomba programmed to clean the...


Too Much English?

The series ends with Robin Lustig asking if you can have too much English. From India he hears how English can divide people as powerfully as it brings them together. In the US he meets speakers of Native American languages who want to keep their linguistic traditions alive. And in East Africa Robin asks whether a requirement to speak good English prevents millions from accessing the best jobs and universities. Some see English as a 'killer language' which threatens the existence of less...


Changing British English

Have you used the words antwacky, jarg and squinny recently? Presenter Robin Lustig examines linguistic change and continuity in British English. He visits the Oxford English Dictionary, he gets a lesson in regional slang. In Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, Robin hears some of that language on the streets as he meets young people who blend local slang with the global influence of social media and music. As he travels around the city, Robin sees how British English relates to the...


Dialects and Evolution

Robin Lustig explores language change and diversity, as he asks whether English is fragmenting into multiple dialects or becoming increasingly uniform. In Kampala Robin polishes up his Uglish and he finds out how Hinglish, Tamglish and Spanglish are evolving in India and the US. And everywhere he goes, Robin seeks out new words and phrases as he tracks linguistic change from social media and the streets through a California campus to the corridors of the Oxford English Dictionary. Sorting...


From Language to Algorithm

Whether you learnt it at your mother's knee, at school or from a smartphone app, more than one and a half billion of us are speakers or students of English. It is the world's most widely used language but in the 21st Century English is being transformed. To investigate its diversity, vitality and future direction, Robin Lustig travels the world to find out if English is set to dominate or decline. Robin begins his journey in the speech artificial intelligence labs of Silicon Valley and in...


Abortion in America: Washington

Could abortion be banned in the United States? Since the election of President Trump the question has taken on a new urgency, for both sides of America’s abortion wars. Philippa Thomas travels to two states which perfectly capture the debate – Texas and Kentucky – to explore, the past, present and future of this most controversial debate. Finishing her journey in Washington, DC, in the third programme Philippa Thomas meets lobbyists on both sides of this issue, and visits the Supreme Court...


Abortion in America: Kentucky

Could abortion be banned in the United States? Since the election of President Trump the question has taken on a new urgency, for both sides of America’s abortion wars. Philippa Thomas travels to Kentucky, where a legal case is under way aimed at closing that state’s last clinic. She visits the lawyer trying to keep it open, and the opponents fervently praying for it to close. And she is invited to a smart suburb to see for herself one answer to the question often asked of anti-abortion...


Abortion in America: Texas

Could abortion be banned in the United States? Since the election of President Trump the question has taken on a new urgency, for both sides of America’s abortion wars. Philippa Thomas travels to two states which perfectly capture the debate – Texas and Kentucky – to explore, the past, present and future of this most controversial debate. In the first programme Philippa visits abortion clinics in Texas to hear from women who have had abortions, and protesters who would like to stop them,...



Half of the world’s river systems host hydro-electric dams. They offer reliable electricity but their construction forces people from their homes and disrupts the natural life of the river. Scores of dams already span the Mekong River, the great waterway linking China to Vietnam. They’ve brought power and jobs to some of the most undeveloped parts of South-East Asia and the building boom shows no sign of ending. But the impact of the massive building programme on those living in the Mekong...



Life in the Himalayas is tough at the best of times. Crops are dependent on the seasonal melt-water from the mountain glaciers. If climate change wipes out the glaciers then the people will be forced to move. As the global population increases and climate change tightens its grip the struggle for land intensifies. The tension over the ownership and the use of land creates new conflicts and inflames existing struggles. It also inspires creative thinking and fresh approaches to agriculture,...


Encroaching Deserts

An arranged marriage brought Yin Yuzhen to Inner Mongolia’s Ordos desert. Depressed by the sandstorms and poor productivity of the region, Yuzhen began to plant trees. Over 30 years she has planted a million trees in 70,000 hectares of desert. Those trees improved the soil and served as a barrier, blocking the sandstorms. She’s transformed the region, allowing a whole community to thrive in once uninhabitable conditions. Didi Akinyelure travels to the Maowusu Desert to meet Yuzhen and the...


Sea Levels Rise

Five of the Solomon Islands have disappeared, many more are becoming uninhabitable. For Kerry and Sally, climate change is not a theory - it is what has made them abandon their island and the graves of their ancestors. They see themselves as lucky - they had family land to move to and the skills to build new homes on stilts - but they are resigned to moving again. Award-winning journalist Didi Akinyelure visits her home city of Lagos to find out the latest solution to sea level rise in West...