iPlayer metadata fix and other improvements

I’ve released a new version of iplayer-dl and the GUI downloader with a few fixes and enhancements. The principal improvement is the use of a new source for programme information since the BBC discontinued the old metadata URLs. I also took the opportunity of a trip outside the UK to work out how to return a more useful error message in that situation.

The change list is as follows:

  • The old metadata files are no longer available. The programme name is now fetched from a newer source.
  • Show a more helpful error message if the user is outside the UK.
  • Programme title for creating subdirectories wasn’t determined correctly.
  • (Console) Progress line didn’t work when the filename was too long.
  • (Console) In response to a request, it’s now possible to specify the PIDs to download in a separate file via the --pid-list or -l option.
  • (GUI) The program won’t die if it can’t find its icon.

Here are the goods: source release and Windows GUI.


  1. Point 4

    Wrote at 2008-07-24 08:31 UTC using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows XP:

    Cheers for the work, It runs fine
  2. ThatGuy

    Wrote at 2008-07-24 09:24 UTC using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP:

    Thanks for that, all seems to be running fine, cheers for the list option too, works a dream!
  3. Spike

    Wrote at 2008-07-24 13:33 UTC using Firefox on Windows XP:

    Thanks for the fix Paul top work, is there still access to this years Glastonbury files and if so what are the PID’s
  4. Ratman

    Wrote at 2008-07-24 23:23 UTC using Firefox on Linux:

    Yes man good work keep it up

    Post a video on youtube as well

    The orignal iplayer-dl worked great on linux and windows

    I like the new GUI good

  5. rak

    Wrote at 2008-07-26 15:56 UTC using Firefox 3.0.1 on Mac OS X:

    Great work as usual Paul!
    Beeb Downloader.app for the Mac has been updated: http://labsix.net/beeb
  6. Henry Bradley

    Wrote at 2008-07-26 21:35 UTC using Safari 525.20.1 on Mac OS X:

    Superb as ever – thanks man
  7. A fan

    Wrote at 2008-07-29 19:02 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Linux:

    Is there any way to download the proms streams? I’ve only got until saturday to figure it out

    eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00cq3vg/

    iplayer-dl http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00cq3vg/
    BBC Proms – Prom 13 – Dr Who Prom – Prom 13 – Part 1.mov (Default)
    An MP4 URL was found, but the download failed.
  8. Paul Battley

    Wrote at 2008-07-29 21:23 UTC using Firefox 3.0.1 on Linux:

    If you disable JavaScript and visit one of the iPlayer radio pages, you’ll get a link to a RealPlayer file. There are various ways to grab that stream: I use mplayer.
  9. Adam

    Wrote at 2008-07-29 21:49 UTC using Firefox 3.0.1 on Mac OS X:

    I’m using the 0.1.10 version but there seems to be a number of programmes I can’t download due to it being unable to parse the metadata for the programmes, for example the latest The Mighty Boosh ‘The Chokes’.
    Is it just me? I also tried it with a couple of programmes that have just expired over the last few days with the same problem.

    Thanks for the hardwork!
  10. ThatGuy

    Wrote at 2008-07-29 22:25 UTC using Safari 525.22 on Mac OS X:


    Sorry for yet another potential frivolous feature request.

    Lately I have utilised iplayer-dl on a NAS box, which has linux & ruby installed.

    I connect via ssh, point it to the download file and off it gets. The benefit if this is that I can get it to download things for me when I am out of the country.

    Though is it possible to get the ruby script to continue to be processed on the server, even if i disconnect form SSH?

    I’ll email you to discuss as required.
  11. Doug

    Wrote at 2008-07-30 11:00 UTC using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows 2000:

    A number of comments on this site indicate a desire to download the iplayer radio shows.

    I’ve just discovered (from others) that you can do this using the orbit downloader program and its Grab++ module. You get flv files that can be converted to mp3 (most easily) with WinnFF. You can take the same approach with the streamed video but the iplayer download will be the better quality.
  12. Colm

    Wrote at 2008-07-30 17:00 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Mac OS X:

    Hallo Paul. I’ve used your script a few times when it was 0.1.9. Since 0.1.10 I haven’t got it to work. I get this message:

    “There is no page for this programme.
    This probably means that the programme does not exist.”

    I expect the Beeb keep moving the goalposts. If you can get it working again, that’d be brilliant. If not, thanks for the things I have managed to download :-)

    Intel Core 2 Duo iMac, OS 10.5.2
  13. RobJN

    Wrote at 2008-07-30 17:28 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Windows Vista:

    I can cofirm the problem above, and can also confirm that the programmes that are available must have a MP4 file as they play fine on my ipod touch.

    Great work so far.
  14. Liam Bedford

    Wrote at 2008-07-30 19:08 UTC using Firefox 3.0.1 on Mac OS X:

    They’ve moved the iplayer page. Apply the following patch to lib/iplayer/downloader.rb:
    – IPHONE_URL = ‘http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/mobile/index.html’
    + IPHONE_URL = ‘http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/iplayer/index.html’

    Then install it again, and it can download files again.

    You can get the diff at
  15. A fan

    Wrote at 2008-07-30 21:12 UTC using Firefox 3.0 on Linux:

    To download the radio streams on linux, go to http://beebotron.timeforabrew.com/ to get a rtsp:// url for the show, then use

    mplayer --dumpstream "rtsp://whatever.bbc.co.uk/blah"

    The file that this spits out is a real audio file, playable on most media players with the right codec…
  16. Special-K

    Wrote at 2008-11-28 12:55 UTC using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP:

    I’ve only recentl started using your program and have found it to be excellent! Where other programs fail yours works great!

    However, since yesterday (27/11/2008) I’ve been having trouble using it. I get the following message

    There is no page for this programme. This probably means that the programme does not exist.

    and cant download anything. I guess the Beeb have changed something.

    Is there a workround for what they;ve done or will you be releasing a new version of your software?
  17. Special-K

    Wrote at 2008-11-28 14:45 UTC using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP:

    Hello again, please ignore my previous statement of cant download. I was using v1.09, I have now updated to v1.10 and its working again! Thanks :-)
  18. Jinkers

    Wrote at 2010-02-06 21:32 UTC using Firefox 3.5.7 on Windows XP:

    Hi Paul,
    Do you know the reason for this one not working??

    I get “unable to parse metadata for this program. A s a workaround you can use the -f option…”

    I have to use a UK VPN , dont know if it is something to do with that.
  19. pomozki

    Wrote at 2010-09-11 10:55 UTC using Firefox 3.6.9 on Windows 7:

    Hi and thanks for a great program – it was working fine until 2 days ago – now, every download I try gets the “unable to parse the metadata” error message and it looks like it wants to try and save the program as a coded name file
    I checked other postings and then checked my broadband – the connection is fine
    I’m also using a UK VPN
    any idea what I can do to get it going again?
    thanks heaps, Alan
  20. Mike

    Wrote at 2010-11-17 17:11 UTC using Internet Explorer 8.0 on Windows XP:

    Can anyone tell me if they can download this as I am also getting the message:

    “There is no page for this programme.
    This probably means that the programme does not exist.”