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Stargazing: Copernicus' Heavenly Spheres

Dava Sobel uncovers the brilliance of her hero, the 16th century Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who revealed the true model of the universe by putting the Sun, rather than the Earth, at its hub. He observed the heavens with his naked eyes, using only rudimentary tools. In the Cathedral town of Frombork on the Baltic Sea in Northern Poland, we’ll hear how he served as a canon his entire career and how he kept his astronomical findings like a terrible secret, fearful of being denounced...

Duration: 00:26:32

On the Black Sea: Sailors of Sevastopol

The Crimean coast is so important that Russia seized it from Ukraine. But what have been the costs of gaining this valuable prize? The final leg of our five-episode journey across and around the Black Sea takes us to the port of Sevastopol. And we also reveal details about the next mini-series from The Compass. Producer Monica Whitlock. Photo: The embankment of Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine Credit: Getty Images

Duration: 00:27:32

On the Black Sea: a Land Forgotten

Ghost states like Abkhazia have the trappings of independence, but are unrecognised by most of the world. On the far north-east shore of the Black Sea, the region is determined to preserve its independence and ancient culture, including a pagan religion based around animal sacrifices, but the price of statehood is deep isolation. Presenter Tim Whewell discovers what life is like in Abkhazia. He begins his journey at the Abkhaz border and continues by horse-drawn wagon - the only available...

Duration: 00:27:11

Black Sea Truckers

Black Sea truckers are a tough bunch. Driving thousands of miles through Europe, the Caucasus and eastwards to China, they transport everything from biscuits to fridges to pigs. Tim Whewell joins them on board the huge Black Sea ferry that connects these places, sailing from Odessa to Batumi in Georgia. The truckers are mainly from the former Soviet Union, many have known each other for years, and once all belonged to one country. The truckers are endlessly inventive as they navigate the...

Duration: 00:27:13

On the Black Sea: Diving Deep

The unique properties of the Black Sea make it an archaeologist’s dream but an ecologist’s nightmare. Most of its water is almost devoid of life, so medieval shipwrecks are perfectly preserved. But wildlife is under threat. On his journey across the sea, presenter Tim Whewell dives under the waves to explore its layers of history – and layers of life and death. He joins marine archaeologists investigating the secrets of a prehistoric settlement and meets the biologists counting dolphins....

Duration: 00:27:05

On the Black Sea: The Voyage Begins

A voyage across a mysterious sea where empires have clashed for centuries and tensions are rising again. By ferry, rowing-boat, horse-drawn wagon, the BBC World Service travels over, around, and under the Black Sea, to discover its ancient and modern secrets. As Russia and Nato build up their naval power in the region, presenter Tim Whewell meets the Istanbul ship-spotter who helped alert the world to the scale of the Kremlin’s military involvement in Syria. Tim embarks on his journey over...

Duration: 00:27:51

A Tale of Two Rivers: Kuala Lumpur

In Kuala Lumpur the regeneration of the city’s Klang River is seen as a key element in the modernisation of the whole country. The capital city is keen to attract talent workers and tourists from all over Asia and beyond. But the historic downtown heart of Kuala Lumpur has become run down, the home to migrant workers from Bangladesh and Myanmar, while the economic focus has moved to the ring of steel and glass skyscrapers on the outskirts. Regenerate the Klang, the thinking goes, and...

Duration: 00:26:52

A Tale of Two Rivers: Los Angeles

In Los Angeles Susan Marling speaks to Frank Gehry. The famous architect has been charged with creating a master plan for the improvement of the Los Angeles River. It is a tough job. Since the 1930s when the river was straightened and lined with concrete to mitigate flooding, the waterway has been a hidden, polluted channel that many Angelenos did not even know existed. But now the money and the political will (we speak to mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti) are in place to ‘green’ the river,...

Duration: 00:26:52

Where Are You Going: Hong Kong

In a city where East meets West and old meets new, Catherine randomly approaches a man in a taxi queue to ask him about where he is going. A funny conversation about the parcel he is taking to a friend soon leads to a riveting account of his near-death experience. Such is the currency of this series where strangers reveal unexpected details about their lives. Catherine also chats to an exhausted Philippine maid enjoying downtime with her friends, meets the “Lolita Goths” who want to feel...

Duration: 00:26:51

Where Are You Going: Reykjavik

In the world’s northernmost capital, Reykjavik, Catherine Carr talks to a swimmer bequeathed a poignant request from a friend, to the shopkeeper who makes beautiful handbags out of fish skin; from the sister who makes an apology to a sibling with fresh pastries, to the roller derby girls walking on thin ice. These portraits capture something of the city’s DNA, its sense of isolation, mythical beauty and rugged adventure. (Photo: Residents of Reykjavik. Credit: Paul Jay/Loftus Media)

Duration: 00:26:50

Where Are You Going: Brussels

An interrupted journey is like a portal into somebody else’s life. Catherine Carr interrupts strangers on everyday journeys asks them where they are going. The encounters which follow reveal funny, poignant and sometimes astonishing details about the lives of others. In cosmopolitan Brussels, she meets a multilingual Bulgarian translator who is mad about dancing and whose wife thinks he’s “a little bit weird” – not least because he is openly gay. In a freezing park, we bump into a...

Duration: 00:26:50


Without the most basic resources – water, food and energy – the global economy could not function. Much of the world has grown used the ready supply of all three. But that might be changing. Demographics and climate change are likely to transform how we value and use essential resources. In this edition of Economic Tectonics, Joanna Haigh – a professor at London’s Grantham Institute at Imperial College – explores how, in her view, such changes could have profound consequences for the...

Duration: 00:26:49


Trillions of dollars flow through the global economic system every day and intermediaries in the finance sector take a cut on every dollar, euro and yen. But financial technology – “fintech” – is fast-changing how the system works. Philip Coggan of The Economist explores how the coming technical revolution in finance will create new winners and losers – and perhaps a rebalancing of global financial power. Producer: Ben Carter (Photo: Tech Globe on hand. Credit: Shutterstock)

Duration: 00:26:49


Who we are, how many of us there are and where we live will change the economies of the future. Africa’s population will boom spectacularly, creating a huge new workforce in countries like Nigeria. That’s a great opportunity, but one with serious risks attached. Europe will shrink. Asia is ageing. In this edition of Economic Tectonics, Ruth Alexander looks at the near future – a future we can already see, thanks to accurate statistical modelling – to find out how economic power will shift...

Duration: 00:26:49


Ten years ago a Harvard economist suggested that it might not be possible to combine democracy, national sovereignty and economic integration forever. Something would have to give. 2016 might just have proved him right. In this edition of Economic Tectonics, Martin Sandbu from The Financial Times explores how –in his view – today’s fractious politics might change the global economy of the future. Producer: Sandra Kanthal (Image: Child at Protest holding placard, Credit: Shutterstock)

Duration: 00:26:49

Shanghai City of Youth - Part Three

Shanghai aims to become a global capital of finance and technology by 2020, but it’s also becoming a city of culture - a cosmopolitan draw for young people seeking a lifestyle mixing the ideas of East and West. The newly-regenerated waterfront area is now lined with art galleries and boutique shops and Shanghai millennials hang out in the former colonial French Concession, which bustles with hip cocktail bars and fancy bakeries. Adrenalin sports such as ‘free jumping’ are among the global...

Duration: 00:26:51

Shanghai, City of Youth - Part Two

Haining Liu explores the pressure on China's one-child generation to marry and start a family. At the ‘marriage market’ in central Shanghai she meets the anxious parents desperate to find a suitable match for their single offspring and drops in on a speed dating event in the city where young men and women are hoping to find a life partner. But young people are increasingly also choosing a career or the single life over the traditional family, and despite the stigma of being unmarried over...

Duration: 00:26:52

Shanghai, City of Youth - Part One

Haining Liu visits Shanghai to discover its growing allure for young people. Home to over 25 million people Shanghai is China's most populous city. Haining Liu discovers what draws those in their 20s and 30s to live, work and study in the city, and asks whether the cosmopolitan lifestyle is enough to keep them here in the face of rising property prices. China’s leaders have big ambitions to make Shanghai a major global capital by 2020, hoping it will rival the likes of New York, Hong Kong,...

Duration: 00:26:52

My Perfect Country: The Debate

Fi Glover, Martha Lane Fox and Henrietta Moore are on the hunt for solutions to the world’s problems. Their aim is to create the perfect country made up of the best global policies that actually work. In this episode, the panel hear the voices, opinions and criticisms of the World Service audience. Together, they debate how the perfect country is shaping up. The policies include: Bermuda’s water policy, Peru’s housing revolution, Japan’s gun control, Tunisian women’s rights, Shanghai’s...

Duration: 00:26:48

Australia: Has it Cracked the Solution to Curb Smoking?

Today, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. It leads to around six million deaths per year, and trends show that will rise to more than eight million by 2030. Australians are ditching cigarettes at record levels, and it is down to the fact that they have some of the world’s toughest anti-smoking laws. Each year they clamp down further on smoking in public places. They now target the tiny corners that other nations might overlook – from playgrounds to railway platforms to taxi...

Duration: 00:26:49

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