Podcast Choice #02 – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4.

Bringing you a satirical take on the week’s news with the cream of UK comedy talent from BBC Radio 4.

Every Friday at 6.30pm on Radio 4 you can listen to (usually) either the News Quiz or the Now Show. These, if you like satirical comedy, are very funny and well worth listening to. The News Quiz was the inspiration for Have I Got News for You (on the telly) and is hosted by the talented Sandy Toksvig with a panels that changes every week. It’s a light hearted look at the week’s news in the form of a quiz!

The Now Show is a different kettle of fish, hosted by Punt and Dennis, if you enjoyed the Mary Whitehouse Experience (also from the Telly) then very likely you will enjoy the Now Show. It takes a satirical look at the week’s news and the running gags, “come on Tim” ensure a regular listen is a must.

The Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4 podcast alternates between these two shows, and occasionally with something less satisfying.

As a BBC Podcast one of the annoying aspects is that only the latest episode is available, if you forget to download it then you’ve missed it. I suspect that this is a licensing issue and the BBC can’t avoid it. I know I regularly check for new episodes in iTunes, however if you don’t subscribe to many podcasts it can be easy to forget to check on a regular basis. As it is a podcast, unlike iPlayer downloads, there is no DRM, so you can hold into past episodes. Unlike some of the other podcasts I listen to, these I will listen to again, so have a fair archive now of episodes going back a few years.

I usually listen to the podcast on the way into work on a Monday morning and it certainly has me laughing out loud as I trundle up the M5.

My only complaint, well, I wonder where the podcasts of Just a Minute or Sorry I Haven’t a Clue are? Would be great if they were available – they are occasionally as part of Radio 4’s Comedy of the Week, but would be nice if every episode was available to download.

Live BBC TV on the iPad

Okay so there is one feature of the iPlayer iPad App that “could” make it worth downloading (remember it is free anyhow) and that is it allows you to live stream the BBC channels to your iPad. Now if you do this, you will need a TV Licence. You can watch all the (SD) BBC Freeview channels.

It was also pointed out to me that as the BBC iPlayer App is an App it currently doesn’t support VGA-Out as many other video apps do. You can do VGA-Out with the web version.

Thanks to Carol Walker (@weedog) for these.

Neither the App or the web version of iPlayer support AirPlay which is what you would use to stream content to your Apple TV. Now that would be useful especially as BBC iPlayer is not native on the Apple TV (and in the UK it should be). Of course if we could put Apps on the Apple TV then we could put this BBC App on the Apple TV! Sometimes I wish life was a little easier and simpler.

iPlayer on my iPad

The BBC have released an App for the iPad for BBC iPlayer. I have now used it a few times and to be honest, it’s just okay. I think it is better than the website version of iPlayer on the iPad and it seems to be a little more stable. A bit easier to go back to a video you have paused for example.

Navigation is slightly different to the website version you get on the iPad, but not much really too different.

This is the iPad App.

This is iPlayer on the iPad browser.

So my next question is why?

Why on earth did the BBC spend time and money on an app for the iPad if it adds virtually nothing to the experience that you get from using the website on the iPad?

So is the content different from what you get on the web on the iPad? As you know from my previous post what you see on the iPad is never the full iPlayer experience, and from what I can see on the App the availability is the same as you get via the web on the iPad, ie less than what you get in a full web browser on your computer.

So can you download content for offline viewing? Like when you are on a train? Something you can do on your computer. Well no, you have to have a decent internet connection to watch BBC iPlayer.

In the end I can’t see what the app adds that viewing on the iPlayer on Safari doesn’t have already, apart from “favourites”. What’s the point of that as most content disappears in under seven days anyway…

Hopefully this is version one.

Not available On iPad or my TV!

I do like BBC iPlayer and I like how it allows me to watch BBC programmes when and where I want to…

Well nearly…

There are still a fair few programmes that are only available through a traditional web browser and are not available via my iPad, my TV (which has BBC iPlayer access built in) or to download.

So for example on my iPhone there are only three films available to watch.

However via my web browser I can see six films including National Treasure: Book of Secrets which isn’t available on the iPhone.

The reason is not technical, but a rights issue. Most new BBC programmes are available in many different ways via BBC iPlayer, this is because the BBC has secured the rights to do this from the production company (that makes the programme) and (probably) the talent in the programme.

Older programmes that are repeated were made at a time when BBC iPlayer was either not technically viable or wasn’t even a consideration or who would know what was possible in the future… so such rights would not have been secured.

With films such as National Treasure: Book of Secrets when the BBC “buys” the film for showing on their channel, they don’t necessarily also buy the rights for mobile distribution or download. This means that the film is only available via the web browser. Some films won’t even be available via iPlayer.

So the solution? Well unless I go and buy the film or programme in iTunes, I will either have to watch it when it is broadcast, on my computer or record it.

BBC iPlayer launches Wii channel

According to BBC News

The BBC iPlayer is relaunching on the Nintendo Wii in the form of a dedicated Wii channel on 18 November.

The BBC iPlayer has been on the Wii since April 2008 but many console owners reported problems with the original interface.

Will check this out on the 18th November.

I have tried using BBC iPlayer on the PS3 and that works okay, though actually prefer to use iPlayer with an iPod touch connected to the TV.

Though my main issue with iPlayer has to be that fact that my broadband connection is too slow to take real advantage of the service.

No iPlayer HD for me

I do like BBC iPlayer, I like the fact that I can catch up with old BBC programmes that I have missed that week or can catch up on series that I may have missed. I like the fact that I can watch BBC iPlayer on an iPod touch and that I can connect the iPod touch to my TV and watch that way.

However there are a few things I don’t like, some of this is down to BBC iPlayer, and a lot down to my poor ADSL connection.

I don’t like the fact that not everything on BBC is on BBC iPlayer. I know that ITV and Channel 4 content won’t be on iPlayer, but their versions are nothing like as good as iPlayer and as easy to use. They also don’t work as well on the Mac and there are no iPod players either. Of course though a lot of BBC content is on iPlayer, not all of it is. Films I understand, however why isn’t The Day Of The Triffids on iPlayer? It’s currently on BBC Four, however no triffids on iPlayer!

I don’t like the fact that some of the BBC content is on BBC iPlayer and is available through a web browser, however that same content is not available on the iPod. For example 12 of the 13 episodes of Robin Hood
are available on my iPod touch at the time of writing, however episode 13 is not available!


Well I know it’s probably a rights issue or something. The same thing happened with Outnumbered
series two, again with the final episode.

I have mentioned my slow ADSL connection before, as broadband has got more popular my connection has got slower and slower. I did once have nearly 4Mbps, today my speed is less than 1Mbps! The other problem is that BBC iPlayer is quite popular and so at peak times it is almost impossible to watch!

I was though quite intrigued to see that BBC HD is now on BBC iPlayer in HD!

So tried to watch Torchwood – Children of Earth on BBC iPlayer HD and got this message:

Well my  > 1Mbps connection is way too slow for this HD content, not even close!

I guess I could download it, but it’s large at 1.3GB.

Of course I then have the issue that my ADSL connection has a bandwidth cap, which is another problem I have with BBC iPlayer.

I do like BBC iPlayer, I have issues with some of the rights issues, however most of the problems I have with BBC iPlayer are mine and my ADSL connection.

Maybe I just ought to get Torchwood on Blu Ray instead of trying to watch it on BBC iPlayer HD.

BBC iPlayer to go HD

BBC’s iPlayer is to go HD.

The BBC’s iPlayer is to start offering high definition (HD) streams and downloads of some programmes. It will mean improved picture quality on streams to web browsers.

Read more.

Other new features include a new internet speed diagnostics page, the full release of the new BBC iPlayer Desktop, and a cross-platform manager that will allow Windows, Mac, and Linux users to download BBC programmes, including those in HD. 

Sounds good, but I do worry about those like me who have bandwidth caps, downloading HD video takes up a fair bit of bandwidth.

BBC iPlayer on Linux

Recently I have been playing about with a couple of those little netbooks which are so popular now.

Though I have had an Xandros based Asus EeePC for a while now, I realised that I had never really tried to use it to watch Flash based video. I had used it to watch DivX and MP4 video files which it did fine with, however when using the Asus to try and watch BBC iPlayer, well the results were less than satisfactory.

I also tried BBC iPlayer on a SUSE based HP 2133 netbook and got similar results.

After a bit of Google searching the verdict appears to be that the Flash Player for Linux is not that capable when it comes to playing video, rather than the chips on these low powered netbooks aren’t capable of playing Flash video.

I am now going to try the BBC iPlayer Desktop once I have re-charged the HP 2133 (well the battery doesn’t last very long).

Reached my bandwidth limit

Reached my bandwidth limit on my ADSL account with a day to spare!

I don’t normally get anywhere close to the cap on my ADSL connection, but some months I do get close.

The main culprit these days is the iTunes Store and BBC iPlayer. I seem to watch more video using these two services than anything else at the moment.

I do get a “free” window between midnight and 8am and I do try and schedule my video downloading during these times, otherwise I do find I use up all of my allocated bandwidth. Though sometimes you don’t want to wait!

No BBC iPlayer with JokiuSpot on the iPod touch

If you have an iPhone and want to watch BBC programmes using BBC iPlayer, you need to be using a wifi connection, it’s not possible with a 3G (or EDGE) connection.

Of course the iPod touch only has wifi, so in theory you shouldn’t get that problem.

Oh look!


So how did I manage to get that with the iPod touch?

Well I was using wifi, but I was using JoikuSpot. What JoikuSpot does is basically turn your 3G wifi mobile phone into a wireless hotspot. So the Nokia N95 connects to the internet via the 3G network and then allows wifi clients connect to it via the 802.11 wifi.

Well the BBC must know that I am accessing their server from a 3G connection and serve me up with that error message.