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The Compass

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Surprising stories from unusual places. With ideas too big for a single episode, The Compass presents mini-series about the environment and politics, culture and society.

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Surprising stories from unusual places. With ideas too big for a single episode, The Compass presents mini-series about the environment and politics, culture and society.

iTunes Ratings

66 Ratings
Average Ratings
51
9
1
1
4

Editing fails

By Jim Sack - Oct 07 2018
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Excellent program! Pathetic editing between programming and inserted commercials/promos. Sheesh.

Great series!

By SinzaS - Dec 02 2017
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Very insightful and informative.

iTunes Ratings

66 Ratings
Average Ratings
51
9
1
1
4

Editing fails

By Jim Sack - Oct 07 2018
Read more
Excellent program! Pathetic editing between programming and inserted commercials/promos. Sheesh.

Great series!

By SinzaS - Dec 02 2017
Read more
Very insightful and informative.
Cover image of The Compass

The Compass

Latest release on Feb 26, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 1 day ago

Rank #1: The sounds of the Lofoten Islands

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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 produced by the glacial streams, the whisper and roar of the wind, the chorus of song birds and the cry of soaring ravens high overhead.

Looking around Chris is reminded that this is an Arctic landscape but in recent years the glacial ice has been melting in some of Norway’s highest mountains and we learn how a team of archaeologists have been recovering thousands of artefacts, some of which date back 6,000 years.

But it is also the quality of the sounds here that intrigues Chris, and during the climb gradually he begins to understand something of the deeper more spiritual connection with the earth which is so intrinsic to the Sami culture.

For Andé the mountain soundscape and his relationship to the wolves which were once so prevalent here, inspires a joik, a Sami chant, which he performs at the peak of their climb.

(Photo: Mountain lake and crater Lofotens Islands, Norway. Credit: Chris Watson)

Aug 08 2018

27mins

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Rank #2: Dams

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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 Delta and along the river is immense: silt deposits are disrupted and fish populations are displaced, as are many of the millions of people that depend on them.
Reporter Peter Hadfield sails up the Mekong to meet those communities living with the dams on their doorstep and discover how their lives are impacted.
Meanwhile, presenter Didi Akinyelure is in western Europe to find out why the countries that pioneered hydro-power are now turning their backs on it. In Switzerland they are releasing floodwater from their dams to bring life back to a tamed mountain wilderness. In France dams are actually being dismantled to revive fish life on Normandy’s rivers.
So how should we feel about dams? Do developing countries need the reliable low-carbon electricity they provide? Can they be built in less damaging ways or should we call a halt to the age of the mega-dam?
(Photo: Ota Khami, 55, stands where his home use to be before it was bulldozed to make way for the Sesan 2 dam in Stung Treng, Cambodia. Credit: Getty Images)

Apr 25 2018

27mins

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Rank #3: Depression in Japan

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Up until the late 1990s, depression was all but unknown in Japanese society and pharmaceutical companies had given up on trying to sell anti-depressants there. Fast forward to today and court cases alleging overwork depression and overwork suicide, reassuring commercial branding of depression as a "cold of the soul" and increased media attention have turned Japan into a highly medicated society. In the first episode of a five-part series about mental health and culture, Christopher Harding explores how in just a few years, psychiatrists, lawyers and the pharmaceutical companies helped introduce 'depression' to Japan.
Producer: Keith Moore
(Photo by Tori Sugari)

Aug 11 2016

26mins

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Rank #4: After the Crash: Authority and Trust

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In 2008 the world financial system had a heart attack. Gripped by panic, banks stopped lending, cash ran out and the world came to the edge of a financial precipice. As millions of people lost their jobs and as the shock that started in Wall Street reverberated around the world, the crisis led to a collapse of the Greek, Spanish, Icelandic and other economies.
Professor Ian Goldin looks at the origins of the crash and he examines how it affected our trust in authorities and experts. He travels to New York to talk to some of the world’s leading academics including Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs and Adam Tooze and he hears from a former Lehman Brothers employee about the final days of the troubled business whose collapse led to the financial crisis.
Presenter: Ian Goldin

Producer: Ben Carter
(Photo: Two employees of Christie's auction house manoeuvre the Lehman Brothers corporate logo in London

Credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Sep 26 2018

26mins

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Rank #5: On the Black Sea: The Voyage Begins

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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 the sea to Odessa in Ukraine. It is a city in love with the sea. But its character is beginning to change.
Producer: Monica Whitlock
(Photo: Istanbul panorama Credit: Tony Jolliffe/BBC

Jul 19 2017

27mins

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Rank #6: The Great Unravelling: Human Rights

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In early August 1941 Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met on a US flagship off Newfoundland and drew up The Atlantic Charter. It laid the foundations of an international system that has been in place ever since. But is it now under unbearable strain?

Has the international human rights machinery worked? What about the global human rights movement? Many believe we are now at a crisis point, with populism and the rise of China both challenging the project. Others think the human rights movement is itself partly to blame.
Journalist and former barrister Afua Hirsch talks to a wide range of international lawyers, historians and thinkers and asks if the world order forged after World War Two is coming apart.

Presenter: Afua Hirsch
Producer: Lucy Bailey

(Photo: Illustration of a knitted ball resembling Earth unravelling. Credit: Nadia Akingbule)

Oct 31 2018

26mins

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Rank #7: My Perfect Country: Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal

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In 2001 the use of all drugs was decriminalised meaning possession of drugs was now identified as a public health issue rather than a criminal offence. Today, whilst drugs remain illegal, users do not receive a criminal record and are instead referred to rehabilitation and treatment programmes. Drug related deaths, HIV infection rates and use of legal highs are at an all-time low.

My Perfect Country traces the development of the policy over the last 15 years and asks whether other countries should use this model for their own legislation on drug control. The architect of Portugal’s policy Joao Goulao explains how the policy was implemented and Doctor Rodrigo Coutinho explains how it was taken on by health services. Our roving ambassador hears from the volunteers of mobile units that does not wait for patients to come to them and hears emotional recovery stories from former users. Presenter Fi Glover, academic Henrietta Moore, professor Alex Stevens from Kent University andTony Duffin of the Ana Liffey drug project in Ireland discuss how far Portugal’s policy has been successful and whether it would work in the perfect country.

(Photo: A Portuguese flag flies above a demonstration against austerity, Lisbon, 2013. Credit: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images)

Feb 18 2016

27mins

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Rank #8: On the Black Sea: Diving Deep

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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. They say growing political tensions are blocking vital conservation efforts.
Producer Monica Whitlock
Photo: The stern of an Ottoman shipwreck discovered under water Credit: Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP)

Jul 24 2017

27mins

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Rank #9: Soul Music: Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez

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Written by Joaquin Rodrigo in 1939, the Concierto de Aranjuez is a guitar classic. It was written amid the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, and in circumstances of poverty and personal tragedy. Soul Music explores how the piece touches and changes people's lives.
The composer's daughter Cecilia Rodrigo explains how the blind composer was inspired by the fountains and gardens of the palace of Aranjuez. Nelício Faria de Sales recounts an unforgettable performance deep inside one of Brazil's largest caves, while David B Katague remembers how the piece got him through a difficult period of separation from his family in the Philippines.
Guitarist Craig Ogden explains the magic of the piece for a performer, and actor Simon Callow recalls how hearing the piece was a formative experience for him during his schooldays, when it turned rural Berkshire into a piece of Spain.
(Photo: Blind Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999) playing the piano at his home in Madrid. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

Mar 31 2016

27mins

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Rank #10: Glaciers

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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, development and conservation.
Nigerian journalist, Didi Akinyelure meets the innovators determined to maintain their traditional ways of life in the face of the worst that the climate can throw at them. In the Himalayas the locals are building their own artificial glaciers. Known as ice stupas, these mounds of ice modelled on Buddhist meditation structures can hold water for agriculture right through the summer.
Meanwhile, in the Alps, villagers are determined to save the glaciers that provide their groundwater and attract tourists. They have hired a scientist who plans to spray the glacier with artificial snow in order to deflect the heat of the summer sun.
(Photo: Didi Akinyelure on a glacier in the Swiss Alps)

Apr 18 2018

27mins

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Rank #11: After the Crash: The Future

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Ten years ago the world financial system had a heart attack. Gripped by panic, banks stopped lending, cash ran out and the world came to the edge of a financial precipice.

Professor Ian Goldin questions whether lessons have really been learned from what happened a decade ago and asks whether we are now better prepared to identify and prevent the next one? He talks about the threat that climate change might pose with Lord Nick Stern, asks Peter Piot – the man who discovered Ebola – how problematic a pandemic might be and questions whether financial innovation is really a good thing with Anat Admati, co-author of The Bankers’ New Clothes.

Presenter: Ian Goldin
Producer: Ben Carter

(Photo: Bitcoin. Credit: Omar Marques/Getty Images)

Oct 24 2018

26mins

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Rank #12: disUnited Kingom: Birmingham, England

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What has the European Union referendum vote revealed about the divisions within the UK? And what might this mean for the cohesion of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
Birmingham in the West Midlands, one of the biggest cities to vote leave, has been lauded as a success for multiculturalism but the result has brought tensions to the fore. A spike in hate crime, a petrol bombed halal butchers and racist graffiti were some of the short term effects. A 15 minute drive from the centre of Birmingham is the town of Walsall – where Nina Robinson was born and brought up, where immigrant communities have settled from South Asia but where a large majority voted to leave. Nina returns from London (which voted strongly the other way) to investigate why her family and other locals are disillusioned with politics and politicians and how they want their vote to translate into radical change. She talks to the people building bridges post-Brexit - the UKIP councillor visiting Muslim schools, the residents reaching out to their neighbours and the Muslim street artist known as ‘Birmingham’s Banksy’. What does Brexit from Birmingham tell us about being British in 2016?
(Photo: The Union Jack flag shattered and broken. Credit: Shutterstock)

Oct 03 2016

26mins

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Rank #13: disUnited Kingdom: Wrexham, Wales

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The people of Wales received hundreds of millions in EU grants to regenerate areas depressed by de-industrialisation. Yet Wales, like England, voted to leave the EU. In many cases, the areas voting most strongly for leave were those receiving the most EU money.
Bethan Kilfoil, a former BBC Wales correspondent in Brussels, and now a resident in Ireland, travels home to North Wales to find out why people voted the way they did. She explores what Brexit may mean for Wales in the future, and what the differences in patterns of voting between Welsh and English speaking areas tell us.
(Photo: The Union Jack flag shattered and broken. Credit: Shutterstock)

Oct 06 2016

27mins

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Rank #14: My Perfect Country: Preventing Suicide in Michigan, USA

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In 2001, the American state of Michigan had a suicide rate of 89 per 100,000 amongst mental health patients. By 2013 this had dropped to just 16 per 100,000 and shines against the US national average of 230. One network of hospitals in particular – The Henry Ford Group – registered zero suicides per 100,000 patients and branded its scheme as the zero-suicide model. Its achievement comes from offering mental health screenings at earlier stages for patients. Local reporter Colin McNulty speaks to the doctors who developed the system and how they have sustained it. He also follows the wider network of patients, friends and relatives who have all benefited from the scheme.

What this ground-breaking healthcare service offers is weighed up byFi Glover, entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox and Professor Henrietta Moore of the Institute for Global Prosperity. And with the estimation that global annual suicide fatalities could rise to 1.5 million by 2020 – is it a staple addition to the perfect country or a one-off success story?

Image: a man walks by street art in Detroit, Michigan Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Feb 25 2016

27mins

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Rank #15: My Perfect City: Oslo

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Oslo is now the fastest-growing major city in all of Europe. Its growth is attributed to high birth rates and migration. Oslo is keenly aware that as the city expands, it is important to do so in a sustainable way. As a result, they have made a commitment to reducing carbon use and emissions while they grow, which some would say is an impossible challenge. Can Oslo’s plans work? And can it avoid urban pitfalls that may lead to segregation and inequality?

For cities that grow beyond their historic size, numerous problems can occur; from overcrowding, to inequality, to a potential loss of social cohesion as new populations arrive. But Oslo are doing their best to ensure that this does not happen. The city has proposed solutions in three crucial areas - decarbonising the city, ensuring social cohesion and a sense of belonging, and rebranding Oslo both internally for its citizens and as a new global player.

Presenter Fi Glover, Dr Ellie Cosgrave, director of UCL City Leadership Laboratory and urbanist professor Greg Clark perform a rigorous investigation into the city's plans to grow quickly, but intelligently. They scrutinise the policies aimed at reducing fossil fuel emissions and creating a zero-carbon infrastructure, they look at the plans for preventing segregated neighbourhoods, and at how the city intends to ensure that new inhabitants feel welcome and part of the new Oslo identity.

Can Oslo join the list of cities who can prove to be a real example to others around the world?

(Photo: Sculptures by Gustav Vigeland displayed in The Vigeland Park in Oslo. Credit: Rune Hellestad/Corbis/Getty Images)

Nov 17 2019

50mins

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Rank #16: Ocean Stories: The Atlantic

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1/4 In this first episode we cross the ocean from the Grand Banks to the tip of South Africa via Reykjavik in Iceland meeting those involved in fishing and working along the shores of the Atlantic.
Beneath the waves, oceanographer Jon Copley from Southampton University provides a fascinating underwater commentary, demonstrating how currents and ocean ridges link the lives on every shore of the Atlantic.
The Atlantic Ocean covers more than 100 million square kilometres, stretching from southern Africa to Iceland and from the Americas to Europe. Named after the Greek God Atlantikos and for the area of water near to the Atlas Mountains, it has shaped human history and culture in more ways than any other ocean as a trade route, a slave passage and as a vital source of food.
For centuries it has been a source of wealth and prosperity for those who voyaged across it in search of food, from the Basque sailors who ventured to North America in search of cod and whale meat, to the Vikings who traversed it long before European explorers began exploring and exploiting its peoples and riches.
It was fish that enabled this early travel and it is fish that has continued to sustain populations around the Atlantic ever since, from Newfoundland to Iceland and onward to West Africa. This first episode of our new series exploring the great oceans of the world looks at the communities eking a living from its waters - their culture, their livelihoods and the challenges they face.
Presenter: Liz Bonnin
(Photo: Icebergs off the coast of Canada's Newfoundland Credit: Getty Images)

Nov 22 2017

27mins

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Rank #17: disUnited Kingdom: Stirling, Scotland

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The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes returns to Stirling in central Scotland, where she grew up and went to school. In an area where people voted strongly to remain in the European Union, against the tide of the rest of the United Kingdom, what effect has this had on how people feel about their relationship with their biggest neighbour - England.
She hears how the Brexit vote has caused divisions within families and from people who are now concerned that leaving the EU could be the lever that takes Scotland out of the United Kingdom altogether.
(Photo: The Union Jack flag shattered and broken. Credit: Shutterstock)

Oct 13 2016

22mins

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Rank #18: Europe’s Challenges: The Road to Rome

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The European Union emerged in the 1950s from a vision of a bright future for a war-ravaged continent – free from conflict, with nations living in harmony, their citizens free to trade and travel without restriction. In the first programme of a three-part series, former BBC Europe correspondent Allan Little hears first-hand from the negotiators who drew up the project’s founding document, the Treaty of Rome, with its key goal of an “ever-closer union”.
The interviews for this series were recorded ten years ago and many of the interviewees have since died.
(Photo: Foreign Ministers of France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany and Italy signing two treaties establishing the European Common Market and the atomic energy community at Campidoglio, Rome, 25 March1957. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

May 19 2016

27mins

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Rank #19: UK: From Syria To Yorkshire

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As part of the World Service ‘Destination Europe’ series, the BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones is finding out how Syrian refugees are settling in the northern English city of Bradford in Yorkshire. They were flown directly to Britain as part of a scheme to help the vulnerable living in the Syrian border region. The former British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to help 20,000 of these people over a five year period, rather than taking those who had made the perilous journey to Europe through smuggler’s routes. So in Bradford, Owen meets people like Nadia, flown to the UK from Iraq – a single mother to a teenager who dreams of her former life in Damascus where she owned a shopping mall and was rich, but who now lives in a damp flat and whose possessions are sparse. Then there is Ayham and his family who became eligible to settle in Britain from Cairo after his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Their remarkable stories paint a vivid picture of war-torn Syria and the tragedies they have faced but also of their bravery and hope for a new beginning as they embark on finding their way in Britain.
(Photo: Owen in front of the Bradford factory)

Jul 21 2016

26mins

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Rank #20: How modern living is changing our faces

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Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid looks at how modern living is changing our faces. With the help of professor Saw Seang Mei in Singapore and the UK's top ophthalmologist, professor Chris Hammond, he tells the story of how baffled scientists sought to understand the rocketing rates of myopia in the Far East, where more than 80% of teenagers are short-sighted. Dr Cregan-Reid learns about the various theories put forward before Australian researchers cracked the mystery in 2004. Spoiler alert: It is not to do with screens.

Evolutionary biologist Professor Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, from New York State University, tells Dr Cregan-Reid about how our jaws have been reacting to changes in our diet. They are getting shorter and less dense, but our teeth are erupting as if it is still 50,000 years BC. At London's Natural History Museum, Professor Fred Spoor takes us through the impact the modern world is having on our teeth and the shape of our mouths.

Back in Singapore, the country's leading plastic surgeon, who spends most of his day reshaping people's jaws, tells Dr Cregan-Reid he thinks our faces are getting shorter but wider because of what we eat and the impact of stress on facial muscles.

In the third and final part of Changing World, Changing Bodies, we learn why the 'you' that you see in the mirror most days may not be the 'you' that your DNA had planned.

(Photo: Multi ethnic montage of teenage male portrait. Credit: Getty Images)

May 29 2019

27mins

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