iPlayer Downloader

Ruby, cross-platform

As of 10th December 2010, this program no longer works. Find out why.

Introduction

This program downloads DRM-free video (h.264) and audio (MP3) files from the BBC iPlayer service by pretending to be an iPhone. There’s more information on the Beebhack Wiki.

It won’t download every programme that’s on the iPlayer website, because they’re not always available. Sometimes, this is by design (as in the case of films and expensive US series like Heroes); sometimes it’s due to omission or transient problems. In addition, it can’t currently download the embedded videos that are not part of the main iPlayer service.

To be clear, let me state it here: You can’t download most films. You can’t download some American TV series. You can’t download in HD. You can’t download things that aren’t on the iPlayer proper. Some other programmes also can’t be downloaded for reasons that are unclear.

I’m interested in hearing about systematic problems via the bug report form. However, please don’t bother telling me about one-off or occasional errors, as there’s nothing I can do about them.

This program will not work unless used from a UK IP address, either directly or via a proxy. Please do not ask me about how to use it from other locations.

Non-specific comments such as “it doesn’t work” are useless and will be deleted.

Using Windows and want to keep things simple? Skip straight to the Windows GUI instructions.

Command-line program

The command-line version is recommended for Linux users and anyone else who wants to use the advanced features like proxy support or subtitle downloads.

Note: Windows users should omit sudo when copying the commands below.

Get Ruby

You’ll need to install Ruby and RubyGems. Mac OS X should have these installed already. On Ubuntu, you can use:

sudo apt-get install ruby rubygems

On Windows, you can get the one-click Ruby installer.

Install

sudo gem install iplayer-dl

If your installed version of RubyGems cannot find iplayer-dl, you can download the .gem file and install it in a similar manner: sudo gem install iplayerer-dl-X.X.X.gem.

That’s it for installation, unless you’re using Ubuntu, in which case you’ll need to add /var/lib/gems/1.8/bin (or /1.9/) to your PATH. If you don’t know how to do that, this is a quick alternative:

sudo ln -s /var/lib/gems/1.8/bin/iplayer-dl /usr/local/bin/

Run

To run the program,

iplayer-dl --help

You can update at any time by typing:

sudo gem update iplayer-dl

Windows GUI

The GUI does not have all the features of the command-line tool, but it’s simpler to get started with on Windows. For most people, this will probably be the easiest way to go:

Just download ipdl.exe from the link above, and run it. You can download a program by pasting the address of an iPlayer page into the box and pressing download. You’ll be asked where to save the file:

iPlayer Downloader Save As dialog

Once you click OK, the download will begin:

iPlayer Downloader download progress

If you see an error saying that msvcp71.dll or msvcr71.dll was not found, you’ll need to download the relevant DLL (try searching for it or look here) and put it in c:\windows\system32. Alternatively, I have heard that installing version 3.5 of the DotNet Framework will also install these DLLs. On 64-bit Windows, you may need to put the DLLs in the same directory as ipdl.exe.

Proxies

Please note that, although the command-line program and the underlying code supports the use of a proxy, there is currently no way to configure the GUI to use a proxy.

Watching the downloads

If you have trouble playing the downloaded files, grab a copy of VLC media player—it’s free, capable, and runs on almost any operating system you can think of. It can also transcode the files to other formats.

Source code

You can obtain the source code from GitHub:

Mac OS X GUIs

Other people have built on my work with graphical applications for the Mac. Try one of these programs that wrap iplayer-dl:

I am not responsible for these programs!

Alternatives

get_iplayer also allows you to download programmes from the iPlayer and provides a whole range of other features besides. If you want to download high-definition content or to schedule recordings, you may find it useful.

Comments