iPlayer - 30 days or forever?

There are often posts on this forum asking about the best radio and TV programmes to listen to or to watch as a beginner, and many posts suggesting relevant and interesting programmes. Fortunately S4C and Radio Cymru offerings are available on iPlayer but I’m sure that I am not alone in wanting to keep some of the material mentioned for the future or for when my skills have developed sufficiently to appreciate it better. You may feel that, as iPlayer content usually expires after 30 days, this is not possible.

The good news is that there is a way of downloading it to your computer and saving it. Legally (providing that you have a TV licence if you are in the UK).

A free program called “get_iplayer” does this and runs on Linux/BSD (numerous distros supported), MacOS (10.10+) and Windows 7, 8 and 10 (XP and Vista are not supported).

Windows users can download the latest version from: https://github.com/get-iplayer/get_iplayer_win32/releases/latest.

MacOS users can download the latest release from: https://github.com/get-iplayer/get_iplayer_macos/releases/latest.

For both Windows and Mac users the installer includes all necessary bits and pieces.

Linux users will need to install the packages individually and instructions can be found at https://github.com/get-iplayer/get_iplayer/wiki/unixpkg or it can be done manually as describe at https://github.com/get-iplayer/get_iplayer/wiki/unix.

This program was originally developed to run on the Linux operating system, so may appear “old fashioned” to some, in that it uses the command line, where you have to type apparently obscure commands into a black screen to make it do anything. Fortunately a slightly more friendly means of accessing it has been created as well. This is the “PVR” that the instructions mention and this is included in the installation process for Windows and Mac users.

There is a full set of instructions at https://www.squarepenguin.co.uk/.

Once the program has gone from the iPlayer website you won’t be able to get it so you need to actively download episodes of a series on frequent basis if you want them all.

Best of luck,


P.S. What the instructions don’t say is that sometimes a search of the listing of available programmes doesn’t find a programme that you can see on the iPlayer website. In such cases you can still download the program. You will need to find the PID, an identifier usually starting with a ‘p’ followed by another seven alphanumeric characters, in the page’s URL. For example it is p0679x84 in this example: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0679x84/y-ditectif-cyfres-3-pennod-6
The command to download this programme will be: get_iplayer --pid=p0679x84
I can’t see a way of doing this using the PVR so you will need to use the command line if you want to do this.


A word of warning. You are NOT permitted under BBC licence terms to keep your download for longer than the programme appears on the iPlayer. Even get_iPlayer will remind you of this if you keep files for too long.

1 Like

It will remind you to purge your cached listings of items over 30 days but it has yet to remind me to remove any downloads.

I purging my listings this morning and it hasn’t removed any of the downloads.

Maybe you have

get_iplayer --prefs-add --no-purge


1 Like

The only preference that I have set is to change the default save location.

I got that message yesterday, although without the PVR bit. I’ve never used the PVR and only ran it yesterday as I realise that most forumers won’t use a terminal.

And then I ran that and it removed the details from the index but didn’t remove the program.

As an observation, the request to remove a recording after 30 days is inconsistent with recording live material onto my Virgin Tivo box, where I can keep recordings ad infinitum and, albeit in a time-consuming and archaic manner, save that content to DVD.

After some discussion behind the scenes, it has been thought useful for SSI as a media-educational company to adopt a clear position on the use of the get_iplayer software.

It is clear that get_iplayer is an extremely useful tool for the downloading and off-line listening and viewing of BBC and S4C programmes and it’s a great alternative if for any reason the BBC’s own iPlayer web site or apps are not working for you. However, SSI heavily recommends that users respect the BBC terms of use and do not retain recorded programmes for longer than the 30 day limit that applies to the vast majority of programmes on the iPlayer. Although this isn’t a strict limit enforced by law, it is the traditional limit that has always been a guideline for personal use going back all the way to the days of home video cassettes.

One other thing to bear in mind is that although the BBC turns a blind eye to get_iplayer usage, it is not in any way supported and is always susceptible to unexpected changes in the way the BBC streams its content. In other words, reliability is in no way guaranteed or even expected!


The problem was everyone had and I probably still do, naughty me, video tapes well beyond the 30 day limit. It’s become much more of a minefield these days, but the BBC terms are at least clear, so the advice to delete after 30 days is the right advice.
‘Get iplayer’ may be a bit of a relic from the days when there was no way to stream iplayer programmes directly from a browser in Linux and the BBC let all attempts to allow Linix users access to the programmes as they didn’t have the resources to port iplayer into Linux themselves or provide support for those that did. Fortunatly, those days are also gone. However get iplayer, legally allows you an additional 30 days of legal play, if you download on their last day on the iplayer service. This could be very handy if you just discover an interesting series, just before it goes offline.