MythTV and BBC iPlayer


BBC iPlayer has some great content, but accessing it from Linux or MythTV hasn't always been easy. One way to do it is to use the get_iplayer script. This is a very powerful command line utility which has grown over the years into an extremely accomplished product, even including PWV-like capabilities such as recording all episodes from a series.

Here, we'll give you to the basics to get you going. We'll install the script and use it to download some programmes to your hard drive.

Installing get_iplayer

get_iplayer is basically a Perl script which uses a number of base components which can be installed as Ubuntu packages. We will download the script and install the dependencies.

Install the dependencies:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libwww-perl flvstreamer rtmpdump ffmpeg

Download the latest version of the script from here:

Extract it to your desired directory:

tar xf get_iplayer-2.82.tar.gz 

I would suggest adding the directory to your path so that it can be run from anywhere. For now, we will run it from ~/get_iplayer-2.82 (~/ is your home directory). The first time it is run it will set up some configuration:

cd ~/get_iplayer-2.82

To set the download directory, use the following command:

./get_iplayer --prefs-add --output /your/download/directory

Using get_iplayer

When run with no arguments, it will download a list of programmes currently available on iPlayer:


You can grep the output:

./get_iplayer | grep 'Heavy Metal'
392:	Heavy Metal Britannia at the BBC - -, BBC Four, Classic Pop & Rock,Music,TV, default
393:	Heavy Metal Britannia - -, BBC Four, Arts Culture & the Media,Classic Pop & Rock,Factual,Guidance,Music,TV, default

To download an episode, you can either specify the number of the listing or a search string. You also need to specify the quality of the transcoding. In this case flashhigh:

get_iplayer --modes=flashhigh --get Metal