Top comedians film at Purbeck’s Square and Compass pub

TV and stage comics Bill Bailey and Paul Merton stopped off for a pint in Worth Matravers in Dorset on a mission to encourage men to talk more openly about their mental health.

The pair were filmed as they walked along the Purbeck stretch of the Jurassic Coast, taking in visits to the Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers and also the Bankes Arms in Studland and the Scott Arms in Kingston as part of a new four part Channel 4 TV series called Perfect Pub Walks.


Paddling and skimming stones in the sea while talking about far more serious things

An early boost for tourism

Each of the 45 minute programmes sees Bill Bailey and a guest star go on a journey at a different location each week.

The first episode to be broadcast on Tuesday 27th February 2024 at 9 pm takes place in the Peak District with Bill accompanied by comic Alan Davies.

The Purbeck edition of the show, entitled Relics, will be screened on Channel 4 on Tuesday 5th March 2024 and is expected to provide a pre-Easter boost to tourism.

Filmed on a beautifully sunny day in autumn, the episode features the 900 year old castle at Corfe, Jurassic fossils, skimming stones on the beach and tackling the South West Coast Path down to Winspit Quarry.

The steep steps down the coast path led Paul Merton to muse on the possibility of installing a stair lift, but otherwise the comedians loved the spectacular scenery of Purbeck – as well as the pubs they visited.

Charlie Newman, fourth generation landlord of the wonderfully quirky Square and Compass, met the stars when they filmed at the pub in October 2023 and said that they were delightful to talk to.

Charlie Newman, fourth generation landlord at the Square and Compass pub at Worth Matravers

Well renowned for a pint and a walk

Charlie Newman said:

“I do get phoned up quite frequently by television and radio companies to be interviewed about the pub.

“We have a museum, it’s a social media destination, we have had accolades for our cider, and we’re a hub for live music, so the Square and Compass gets flagged up on a fairly frequent basis.

“There are dozens of circular walks around here in wonderful countryside, and we are well renowned for having a pint after heading for the coast path, so Channel 4 chose it on that merit, and any publicity is always welcome, so we said yes straight away.

“Bill and Paul were very pleasant, we sat and had a nice chat, though I was warned by Channel 4 not to talk about the pub too much in advance so that it came as a surprise to them when we discussed it in front of the cameras.”


Bill, Paul and the perfect view from the Bankes Arms pub garden at Studland

“Famous people drop by all the time”

Charlie added:

“Paul Merton was just like his TV persona. He was a bit reserved, he doesn’t say a lot, but then suddenly comes out with something funny.

“It was nice to meet them – I was pretty impressed when Bill Bailey won Strictly Come Dancing, that really tickled me.

“But I don’t watch a massive amount of television myself, I tend to be out there and getting on with stuff, and we have famous people drop by all the time, so the staff all take these things in their stride.”

Charlie has recently featured on the Antiques Roadshow, when the 2023 series opened from Swanage and kicked off with a lengthy piece on him with his quirky art deco bird dinner gong by the YZ company.


Charlie Newman’s most recent TV appearance, opening the Antiques Roadshow from Swanage

Square and Compass

An ichthyosaur skull in the Square and Compass fossil museum

“Bill and Paul showed interest in our fossils”

Charlie Newman said:

“I thought they might have used it as a brief clip, but I was very surprised when it turned out to be the opening feature of the new series of Antiques Roadshow.

“We have actors and musicians here regularly, going back generations – my great grandfather knew famous characters back in the 1930s, my father knew Gerald Durrell really well and he was instrumental in stopping Whitbread modernising the Square and Compass in the late 1970s.

“We’ve taken part in a TV show about shipwrecks, we’ve had our fossil museum featured as well, which may have been why Channel 4 chose the pub as a venue for their show.

“Bill and Paul both showed an interest in the fossils and filmed some footage in there, we did an interview outside in the pub garden and something in the tap room before they went down to Winspit.”

A Channel 4 spokesperson said the programme was commissioned after Bill Bailey suggested that a TV show about rambling might be a good way to persuade men to open up about their personal problems and improve their mental health.

Bill completed a 100 mile walk along part of the South West Coast path over seven days in August 2022, to raise over £100,000 in memory of his friend Sean Lock, who had died of cancer the previous year.


Bill Bailey and Lee Mack on their fundraising walk along the South West Coast Path in memory of comedian Sean Lock

“The reason I love rambling”

Bill Bailey said:

“It was a real blow when his cancer was diagnosed, particularly as it was quite advanced, but we tried to make the most of the last few years.

“We spent a lot of time together and went on trips together, we used to walk for miles and talk about everything. Sean was brilliant company.

“The reason I love rambling, just spending time with another bloke, there’s a kind of intimacy about that where you can talk about anything and everything, and you sometimes find out unexpected things about people.

“When you’re talking to someone on a walk you’re facing the same way. Strolling along, chatting about difficult subjects, is easier than having a sit-down chat about it.”


Old fossils – Bill Bailey, Paul Merton and Corfe Castle


A brief rest from filming after the steep descent from Dancing Ledge

“We should be able to talk”

Bill added:

“Men are especially bad at talking about serious subjects. I remember a friend asked to speak about getting divorced. We spoke about art, football, music, everything, then right at the end I asked how things were with his wife and he said ‘not good actually’ and got a taxi.

“My wife would ask why we can’t talk about difficult subjects with our friends. We should be able to do that. It’s hard to make changes in the way you behave, but those are the things that help.

“I’d make a point of making those difficult phone calls because life’s too short. Especially when you lose people, you realise you never know when you’re going to be able to have that conversation.”

Bill Bailey and Paul Merton stopped for a pint at the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers while filming their latest TV show

Bill Bailey and Paul Merton stopped at the Bankes Arms in Studland as well as the Square and Compass while filming their latest TV show

Paul Merton and Bill Bailey at the scott arms in Kingston
Scott Arms

Paul Merton and Bill Bailey also got to chat to the team at the Scott Arms in Kingston

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