How to download BBC iPlayer shows on your iPhone

The BBC recently announced that iPlayer Desktop is available for Mac and Linux. This allows downloading of shows, rather than just streaming. The BBC is broadening its distribution to more platforms, as a publicly-funded body should. This is great, whatever your thoughts on DRM.

But what about the iPhone? Certain Nokia N-Series phones have a client that enables streaming and downloading. The iPhone-specific iPlayer website is superb, but it only allows streaming. What if you’re out and about, haven’t had time to use Beeb Downloader to grab a show? You can’t stream programmes over 3G.

Developer fl3tch contacted me to let me know you can download it using a script he’s written. The script incorporates iplayer-dl, which is the main script that’s being used to download DRM-free iPlayer content.

This method requires:

  • A jailbroken iPhone
  • Air Sharing installed (used to be free, now £2.99 from the App Store)
  • Mobile Terminal installed (free through Cydia)
  • A copy of the ipl2iph script

Copy the script to /root/usr/bin on the phone and set permissions of 0777, using chmod within Mobile Terminal. You have to first find the show on the iPlayer website in Safari, then head over to Mobile Terminal to run the script. On first run, the script will download and install Ruby, wget, plutil and iplayer-dl, then create a Video folder within Air Sharing. Full instructions are available here.

Here’s a video of the script in action:

YouTube Preview Image

The only difference in the video from the current method is that MxTube was being used instead of Air Sharing to view the video.

And I can report that it does work pretty well, over both Wifi and 3G. It’s certainly not straightforward, and nowhere near as easy as using the official iPlayer client on an N96. But it does work.

If you’re Terminal-phobic then there may be a GUI version of ipl2iph on the horizon, but not this year… Roll on 2009 :)

  • James Burland

    Great tip.

    Version 3.0 of iPlayer Downloader is a real stunner.

  • Rich Adkins

    Certainly agree. V.31 of iPlayer Downloader is a polished app and reliable.

  • Matt Radford

    Ah, we were talking about two different apps. What I referred to as iPlayer Downloader was in fact Beeb Downloader (fixed in the article).

    I hadn’t heard of iPlayer Downloader at the URL you posted Rich. I’ve just downloaded it, and you’re right, very polished. Thanks for the link.