190 episodes

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.

The Compass BBC

    • News

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.

    Journalists: Free speech v personal safety

    Journalists: Free speech v personal safety

    Robin talks to fellow journalists around the world who have to walk the fine line between an espousal of free speech rights and their own safety. Is there reason to be optimistic about the future? He travels to Paris to the former office of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine which saw many of its cartoonists and journalist murdered by jihadist gunmen. He meets the editor of the magazine which is currently forced to operate from a secret location for security reasons. On the streets of Hong Kong he joins journalists working for small online publications, reporting from the front line of the clashes between protesters and police in an environment where the larger press organisations are increasingly believed to be under the influence of Beijing.

    (Photo: Man sits in a cafe reading Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine. Credit: Reuters)

    • 27 min
    Blasphemy or free speech?

    Blasphemy or free speech?

    Robin goes back to his own days as a young reporter when he covered the last blasphemy trial ever held in the UK. At the time it appeared archaic and the end of an era, but blasphemy still exists in many countries across the world. In many ways it is the oldest of all challenges to free speech, so can religions ever truly countenance a world in which free speech is held to be sacred?

    (Photo: Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy in 2010 and acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2018. Credit: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

    • 23 min
    Freedom of speech in universities: Who draws the line?

    Freedom of speech in universities: Who draws the line?

    Robin visits universities in Hong Kong, Oxford and Washington to establish how important free speech is to them and whether moves to block controversial speakers is compatible with what appears a fundamental freedom of expression in places where all ideas are encouraged and tested. Robin explores where the line is drawn regarding freedom of speech in universities, who draws it and what happens to those who cross it.

    Presenter/reporter: Robin Lustig
    Producer: Tom Alban and Neil McCarthy
    Editor: Philip Sellars

    (Photo: Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, in Hong Kong, 2019. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 26 min
    Courts and the right to free speech

    Courts and the right to free speech

    Robin Lustig begins his journey in Washington DC where the first amendment is housed in the National Archive and serves as an almost sacred document. In this programme he asks how Courts around the world make decisions on Free speech. Can they find a line in the sand that shouldn’t be crossed? How do they decide what is, in the modern parlance, ‘hate speech’ and what is merely strongly expressed personal opinion? And can they ever be more than extensions of the political environment they inhabit?

    (Photo: The US Supreme Court, 5 February, 2009, Washington, DC. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    • 27 min
    What is the secret to a longer life?

    What is the secret to a longer life?

    Why do people who live in five communities around the world – known as Blue Zones- consistently outlive the rest of us on the planet? Professor Cregan-Reid goes in search of the secret of a long life. He visits Sardinia home to one of those long lived communities where several villages boast dozens of people aged 100 or more.

    What used to kill us routinely no longer does so - at least not in such numbers. By rights many, many more of us should be emulating the residents of the Blue Zones and living well beyond 100. Instead we are succumbing to lifestyle diseases and longevity could even be about to fall for future generations. The good news is researchers in the Blue Zones have identified seven easily adapted rules for a longer life!

    (Photo: Ushi Okushima, a 105-year-old woman from the village of Ogimi, Okinawa, Japan. The village is known as "longevity village" due to the long life span of residents there. Credit: Mie Kohiyama/AFP/Getty Images)

    • 27 min
    Is height all in the mind?

    Is height all in the mind?

    Professor Cregan-Reid explores why we have all grown so fast recently. For four millennia we barely grew an extra inch but in the 20th Century pretty much every nation in the world shot up by between three and six inches.

    But it is not a uniform story; the Dutch have carried on growing and today their men and women tower over the world but in the US and the UK, height plateaued decades ago. And is being tall good for you? Yes, it seems, if you are a politician or industrialist; less so if you hanker after a career in entertainment.

    The orthodox thinking says nutrition is the key but Professor Cregan-Reid hears about new thinking which claims height is determined by how optimistic society feels about the future- is it really all in the mind?

    (Photo: A tall and small businessman look at each other. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 27 min

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by BBC