Between the Ears: The Signal-Man, BBC Radio 3 | 30th June 2019

A signalman on a remote stretch of East Yorkshire railway is visited by a lone traveller in this drama-documentary written by poet Ross Sutherland. Inspired by a Charles Dickens ghost story, and featuring nature recordings by renowned wildlife recordist Chris Watson.

The Oxmardyke Gate Box is one of the last in the UK to use antiquated mechanical bells to carry semaphore-style messages up and down the line. Soon this system of “absolute block signalling” will pass into history, as computers take over. The bells, like the humans who listen for them, will no longer be needed.

In this feature fusing fact and fiction, the poet Ross Sutherland visits Oxmardyke to meet Dave Beckett, one of the last operators to use the bells. From their elevated position, the pair gaze out over the hinterland near the muddy Humber estuary. It’s an area of villages with Anglo-Saxon names: Gilberdyke, Broomfleet and Saxfleet, with remains of the monastery where the Knights Templar would return after international travel. The flat, reclaimed land has an eerie quality, accentuated by a strange local phenomenon known as a temperature inversion (where high density cold air becomes trapped by warm wetter air) causing sound to carry further, meaning passing trains loom larger and echo further than they ordinarily would.

Writer: Ross Sutherland
Contributor: Dave Beckett
Producers: Jack Howson and Joby Waldman
Sound Design: Chris Watson and Steve Bond

A Reduced Listening Production for BBC Radio 3

Oceans of Noise: Science Weekly podcast

Wildlife recordist Chris Watson begins a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and investigating the threat of noise pollution

A Sense of Time, BBC Radio 4 | 2nd April 2019

Does a second feel the same for a fly, a bird, or a swordfish, as it does for me? Geoff Marsh drills into the science of time perception within and between species.

SLOW RADIO – Midnight at the Oasis BBC Radio 3 | Thursday 6 December 2018

 24.00 – 00.30  

Sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape from dawn to dusk in the Kalahari Desert in south western Africa. As the light fades, you can see very little but hear everything; from the close up sounds of insects to the far-carrying contact calls of spotted hyenas.  Producer Sarah Blunt.

The Changing Sound of Radio BBC Radio 4e | Saturday 13th October 2018

Made for 4 Extra. Wildlife recordist Chris Watson examines some of the ways technology has changed the radio we listen to, from early experiments in sound to the podcast explosion.

BBC Radio Summer 2018


BBC Radio 4  New series begins 10th July 2018  for 12 weeks

Broadcast Tuesdays 1102 and repeated on Mondays at 2102

PIKE  – 10th July 2018.  Brett Westwood journeys into dangerous waters to explore our relationship with the fearsome and predatory Pike. Wildlife sound recordings Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt

NARWHAL – 14th August 2018.  Brett Westwood explores our relationship with an Arctic Legend, the Narwhal. This Unicorn of the Sea is not only extraordinary in appearance, but tantalising difficult to study! Additional sound recordings Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt

SHORT WORKS – As I Walked Out One Morning in May

BBC Radio 4   Fri 27th July 1545, rpt Sun 30 July 0030

Death meets the Lady in this short ghostly story written and narrated by Paul Evans which is inspired by a 19th Century ballad, local folklore and the sounds of a woodland. The singer is Elizabeth Counsell. Sound Recordings Chris Watson. Produced by Sarah Blunt.

THE COMPASS – Living with Nature

BBC World Service

The world as you’ve never heard it before. Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents a guide to the sounds of four very different global habitats; the Plains, Desert, Mountain and Forest and explores the relationship between these soundscapes in Kenya, Namibia, Norway and India, the wildlife and the local people.   Producer Sarah Blunt

25th July – Plains
1st August – Desert
8th August – Mountain
15th Aug – Forest

Chris Watson on Sound Mind | 5th April 2018

Graham Duff interviews Chris Watson, about his groundbreaking work with the experimental music groups Cabaret Voltaire and The Hafler Trio, his career as one of the world’s most celebrated wildlife recordists, his albums of field recordings released on the Touch label and his new site specific sound installation ‘No Man’s Land’. Contains extensive examples of both Watson’s music and field recordings. Headphone listening recommended throughout.

A River of Steel | BBC Radio 4 1st & 7th May 2018

There’s another chance to hear A River of Steel which was first broadcast in 2016, on BBC Radio 4 on Tue 1 May at 11.02am and Monday 7 May at 21:02.

Chris Watson returns to Sheffield, the city of his birth to follow the course of its rivers across landscape and time in a tale of industrial development, little mesters and steel blades. Producer Sarah Blunt.

Chris Watson on ABC Radio | RN ‘Conversations’

You can listen to Chris’s hour-long podcast on ABC here:

Natural Histories – Starling | BBC Radio 4 6th June 2017

BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 6 June at 11.02am, repeated Monday 12 June at 9pm

The first of a new series of Natural Histories includes an interview and recordings by Chris Watson. A murmuration of starlings is one of our great British wildlife spectacles and never ceases to inspire and amaze as Brett Westwood and Tony Whitehead discover in a reed bed on the Somerset Levels. The programme also includes sound recordings by Tony Whitehead. Producer Sarah Blunt

Essential Classics, BBC Radio 3 | 22nd-26th May 2017

Sarah Walker with Chris Watson

Sarah’s guest this week is one of the world’s leading sound-recordists, Chris Watson. Chris started out as a musician, he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group, Cabaret Voltaire, but he soon put the microphone to other uses enjoying a career recording sound for film, tv and radio. He has specialised in recording wildlife and natural phenomena, striving, in his words, to put the microphone where you can’t put your ears. He has contributed to a number of David Attenborough documentaries in the Life and Frozen Planet series and has released albums of his field recordings. As well as discussing his work and life, Chris will be sharing some of his favourite classical music by composers including Britten, Messiaen and Felix Mendelssohn.

NATURE: The Joiker and the Landscape & The Fenland Raft Spider on iPlayer

Another chance to hear Chris Watson capture the sounds of people and wildlife

Monday 22 March BBC Radio 4, 11.30pm
NATURE: The Joiker and the Landscape

Thursday 24 March BBC Radio 4, 11.30pm
NATURE: The Fenland Raft Spider

Soundstage – The Oak Woodland, BBC Radio 4 | 14th April 2017

BBC Radio 4, Fri 14 April, 3.30pm

Another chance to hear this sound portrait in which Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape of an oak woodland in Northumberland as the seasons pass.

Producer Sarah Blunt

The River | BBC Radio 4 August 2016

15-19th August 1.45pm

A series of five illustrated talks which explore our relationship with Rivers. Additional sound recordings by Chris Watson

Monday 15 August: A Salmon struggles on a weir as writer and naturalist Paul Evans reflects on Sabrina and the fish of no return.

Tuesday 16 August: Alan Read, Professor of Theatre at Kings College London recalls a childhood influenced by the Essex estuary.

Wednesday 17 August: Martin Palmer, Secretary General of The Alliance of Religions and Conservation reflects on the significance of rivers in religious stories and traditions.

Thursday 18 August: The relationship which writer and essayist Kathleen Jamie has with the River Tay changes when some Bronze Age swords are dredged out of its waters.

Friday 19 August: The sounds of the River are captured by Chris Watson when he follows the course of the North Tyne from the summit of Peel Fell in Northumberland to the sea at Tynemouth.

Night Waves: Landmarks | BBC Radio 3 4th June 2010

Matthew Sweet and his guests explore Jacques Cousteau’s The Silent World.

Produced by Lisa Davies

A Life in Sound | BBC Radio 4 Contributions 2007 – 2015

Here you can find a very helpful selection of radio progammes and soundscapes for BBC Radio 4 featuring sound recordist Chris Watson.

A Life in Sound

Soundstage | BBC Radio 4 May – June 2016

BBC Radio 4, Mon 30 May – Fri 3 June, 13.45-14.00

Narrator and Sound Recordist: Chris Watson

Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson narrates five immersive soundscapes; each of which is a time compression; a spectacular natural event which has been recorded over hours, days, weeks or even months but which is presented here in less than 15minutes

Mon 30 May, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00, The River Crossing

Sound recordist Chris Watson joins the annual migration of wildebeest in the first of a series of audio postcards capturing spectacular sound events in the natural world.

Tue 31 May, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 The Oak Woodland
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape of an oak woodland over the four seasons.

Wed 1 June, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 Cima Verde
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures a journey in sound from the summit to the valley floor of Cima Verde in Northern Italy.

Thurs 2 June, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 The Lek
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson captures the sounds of an extraordinary dawn performance when he joins a group of male black grouse at a traditional courtship site.

Fri 3 June, BBC Radio 4, 13.45-14.00 The Reed Bed
Reed beds are magical places as wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson discovers when he spends a night capturing the sounds of a reed bed in Suffolk in the last of this series of immersive soundscapes.
Producer: Sarah Blunt

NATURE: The Fen Raft Spider | BBC Radio 4 13th July 2012

NATURE BBC Radio 4 Wed 13 July 21.02 The Fen Raft spider

Sound recordist Chris Watson gets up, close and personal with the Fen Raft Spider when he tries to record the males’ courtship behaviour, but it proves far from easy.

Presenter Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt

Rumblings from the Rafters | BBC Radio 4 July 2016

BBC Radio 4 Sundays 19.15. 26 June – 10 July 2016

A series of very funny tales written and introduced by Lynne Truss in which the residents of an old house attic reveal what life is really like between the rafters and the floorboards

Sunday 16 June

In the first of three tales written by Lynne Truss, the Death Watch Beetle (Bill Paterson) and a bossy Queen Wasp (Alison Steadman) reveal the funny side of life in an attic.

Sunday 3 July

In the second of three tales written by Lynne Truss, a House Fly (Lee Mack) and a Soprano Pipistrelle Bat (Pam Ferris) reveal the funny and warm sides of life in an attic.

Sunday 10 July

In the last of three tales written by Lynne Truss, an Edible Dormouse (Hugh Dennis) and a Peacock Butterfly (Amanda Abbington) reveal the truth about what really goes on an attic of an old house in Amersham.

Sound recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt

NATURE Series | BBC Radio 4 June – July 2016

Close encounters and personal experiences in the Natural World

Wildlife sound recordist: Chris Watson
Producer Sarah Blunt

BBC Radio Wed 22 June, 9pm NATURE – The Joiker and the Echoes

Andé Somby is a Sami and a yoiker. When Andé invited sound recordist Chris Watson to record him yoiking near Kvalnes in the Lofoten Islands in Norway, Chris had no idea what an extraordinary and challenging experience this would be; not only to travel north of the Arctic Circle to record these ancient chants but also to gain an insight into the culture and beliefs of the Sami People.

BBC Radio Wed 29 June, 9pm NATURE – James and the Peregrines

An intimate and revealing audio diary recorded over a year by James Aldred following the lives of a pair of peregrines and the family they raise in a disused quarry near his home.

NATURE Wed 29 June, 9pm NATURE – The Rainforest Canopy

With a two metre wingspan, strong hooked beak and four inch talons, harpy eagles are one of the most powerful birds of prey in the world and have been known to attack people who get too close to their nests, so when wildlife cameraman John Aitchison agrees to spend a month on a tiny platform high up in rainforest canopy in Venezuela to try and film a young eagle chick hunting for the first time, it was with some intrepidation at what might lie ahead.

NATURE Wed 10 July, 9pm NATURE – Fen Raft Spider

Fen Raft Spiders as their name implies are water-loving spiders. Chris Watson gets up close and personal with these spiders when he tries to record their courtship behaviour as well as explore the extraordinary world of underwater sound in which these spiders live and hunt for food in the fenland ditches.