Seven tips for using BBC iPlayer

Lynn Wright / 14 April 2016

Enjoying watching your favourite BBC TV shows with our seven top tips for getting the most from BBC iPlayer.



BBC iPlayer has transformed how we watch BBC TV shows, allowing you to watch what you want, when you want. 

As long as you’ve a decent internet connection, you can even watch BBC TV shows on devices such as iPhones, iPads, laptops and desktop computers, as well as games consoles and set-top boxes such as Apple TV. 

Dig a little deeper into BBC iPlayer, and there’s a range of features and neat extras that make catching up on BBC TV shows even more enjoyable.

Do you need a TV licence to use streaming services?

1. Use BBC iPlayer without an internet connection

Rather than watch iPlayer on your web browser, download the free BBC iPlayer Downloads app to your desktop PC or laptop. This lets you download TV shows to your computer and watch them whenever you want within 30 days. 

This means you can watch downloaded BBC shows without an internet connection – handy if you’re travelling with your laptop or tablet.

Is it safe to leave your mobile phone charging overnight?

2. Get personalised BBC iPlayer recommendations

Signing in to BBC iPlayer with a username and password unlocks a range of useful features that tailors iPlayer to suit your own viewing preferences. 

Once signed in, BBC iPlayer will recommend TV shows based on what you’ve viewed in the past and send you an email newsletter highlighting new shows to discover.

What is catch-up TV and how does it work?

3. Resume watching TV shows

Once signed into iPlayer, it remembers how much of a programme you’ve watched and lets you resume playing exactly from where you left off – even if watching it on another device, such as on your smartphone. 

Click on your 'Watching list' under 'My Programmes', then click on the show’s title to resume watching where you left off.

4. Never miss the start of a BBC show

Missed the start of a TV show that’s being broadcast live? Rather than waiting until it’s finished and then watching it later on catch-up, you can use iPlayer’s Live Restart feature to rewind and restart live programme. 

Simply select 'Restart the current programme' while watching live TV on BBC iPlayer.

What is Netflix?

5. BBC iPlayer Series Record

Make sure you never miss an episode of a TV series with iPlayer’s Series Record. You’ll need the BBC iPlayer Downloads desktop app to use this feature. 

When downloading a programme, click the 'Settings' menu in the top-right corner of the window. From the dropdown menu, click 'Series Record' and then 'On'. Now every episode of the show will be automatically downloaded to your computer as soon as it’s available.

6. Listen to BBC Radio

BBC iPlayer is a great way to listen to live BBC radio stations on your computer and digital devices. 

As with TV shows, you can download radio programs so you can listen to them later even without an internet connection. 

The BBC has a extensive library of programmes, including comedy classics such as Hancock’s Half Hour and Dad’s Army and shows, such as Book At Bedtime and Desert Island Discs. 

Click the 'Radio' link at the top of the iPlayer window, to go to iPlayer Radio, which offers Stations, Categories, Featured and Most Popular.

Seven cool things to do with your iPad.

7. Enjoy podcasts

BBC iPlayer Radio offers a vast selection of programmes that can be downloaded and listen to as podcasts. 

From factual and news to drama and comedy, there’s something for everyone. Podcasts don’t have an expiry date, so you can enjoy them at your own pace.

For more tips and useful information, browse our technology articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.