Monday, 9 May 2011

Saving BBC iplayer programmes

The BBC iplayer offers viewers a chance to catch up on programmes that have recently been shown on the channels. However this is for a strictly limited period and many of the programmes shown will not be released on DVD. A lot of us still don't have DVD recorders, most of us have disconnected the video recorders, although Sky+ does allow us to store programmes, they can only be stored to the local box and not to portable devices or even other TVs in the house.

However there is an easy way to download the programmes, we only need two applications installed on our home PC:
  1. get_iplayer
  2. flvstreamer
Both of these are available in the Debian/Ubuntu repositories, you can get these by opening up the terminal and entering the command:
sudo apt-get install get-iplayer flvstreamer
Users of Fedora or other distros based on Red Hat will need to make sure that the rpm fusion repository is enabled. Once this has been done then it is simply a matter of opening the terminal and entering:
sudo yum install get_iplayer
The application is now installed on your machine however it is a command line tool and therefore will not show up on your applications menu.

Using get_iplayer

1. To use it go to the BBC iplayer website and select the programme of your choice:

2. Copy the web address of the programme from the address bar.

3. Open up a terminal

4. type: get_iplayer --pid={the web address of your chosen programme} if you want the video in HD then add the command --vmode=flashhigh after the web address

get_iplayer will start to convert the film and it will be saved as an MP4 file.

The file is now saved on your computer, the best part is that it is now DRM free, you can watch it on your media player, phone (you may need to perform a bit of converting/editing) or any other PC in the house. If you want to watch it on your home TV through your DVD player then that is also possible (I personally recommend DeVeDe for that task). Enjoy your videos.


  1. I've used get_iplayer before - didn't know about the hd option though, the stuff I got was very low res.

    A better option, if you're prepared to do a lot more work in the initial setup, is MythTV.

  2. Good tutorial for something many will find very useful.

    Well done!

    I use a similar setup with get-flash-videos which is available in synaptic.

  3. This is available in the Arch AUR as well. Nice article.

  4. Hi,

    Great idea, however is this legal?



  5. It's similar to recording on VHS, DVD recorder or even storing digitally on a satellite/digital viewer, as long as it's not to be sold on for money and just for personal use then what's the harm? It's only BBC shows that can viewed, not films etc that are shown on the BBC.

  6. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
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  7. I found that I have to use
    rather than --vmode=flashhd

  8. Thanks Mark, I'll check that out :)

  9. Thank you