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S00per seekr1t project iFetch

iFetch is designed to download BBC radio and TV shows (now with Closed Captions / Subtitles) from the BBC iPlayer site.


The "Too Long; Didn't Read" version - install iFetch, RTMPDump and FFMpeg (and MP4Box if you want captions) from these links. Run iFetch, open the Options dialog, and set paths to RTMPDump and FFMpeg, along with checking and filling as many of the other options as you think make sense.

Personally, I like BBC Radio Four and BBC Radio Four Extra.

With iFetch, you can select a radio or TV station, Fetch the list of programmes, and then (when the Fetch button comes back) select various programmes to record. Hit "Process", and the checked programs will record.

OK, so there's a bit more to it than that, or it wouldn't be any fun.

You can right-click an episode, and select to mark all episodes in that series or that brand ("Doctor Who" is a brand, "Doctor Who: Series 5" is a series). That will mark all matching episodes for recording in this session. You can also choose to auto-mark by brand or series, which will mark matching episodes for recording in this and future sessions.

You can mark "channels" to auto-fetch when the program loads up, either from the Channels setting in the Options dialog, or by Fetching a channel, and then hitting Fetch again. By "channel", I also include "format" and "genre", so you can fetch all animation, or all Sci-Fi.

More options coming later - revisit the Options dialog to see what you can do. Sorry the "Browse" buttons don't work yet.


iFetch requires a number of external tools to download and convert streams. It will put the title, description and background image into the MP3 or MP4 files generated. You have to tell iFetch where these programs are installed, by editing the appropriate Options settings.

FlvStreamer or RTMPDump can be used to download streams - one or the other is required, but not both. We suggest using RTMPDump instead of FlvStreamer, because if you happen to be in the UK, RTMPDump will download TV episodes. Yeah, that came as a surprise to me, too. Visiting my parents in the UK, I casually removed the "Radio only" filter to see what happened, and blow me if we weren't a hop, skip and a jump away from fetching TV.

To convert TV from FLV into MP4, or Radio from WAV to MP3, I use FFMpeg. I'd use FFMpeg to download the streams, but it's slooow. [So is WMA support - iFetch will not even try downloading WMA streams]

We no longer use MPlayer or LAME to stream or convert files.

The three ancillary programs, FFMpeg, RTMPDump / FlvStreamer, and MP4Box aren't mine, but the last time I downloaded them I got them from the following sites:

New Features

New features: Many options can now be saved, and actually work. The dialog can be resized, and the grid resizes along with it. After you have successfully transferred a program and converted it to MP3, it will be marked with a grey background.

Newer features (2009/03/26): More options should work. The progress bar now works (but slowly, because it takes a long time to download radio and convert it). The Hide button works. After saving several files, the successful ones are highlighted green, the unsuccessful ones are highlighted red. The MPlayer and LAME windows now run hidden.

Even newer features (2009/06/20): Hide / Auto-hide Brand, Mark / Auto-mark Brand - a Brand is what was previously called a "series", but now in line with BBC's labeling, I draw a distinction between brands and series, so that, for instance, a brand might be "Nebulous", and a series within that brand might be "Series 1" or "Series 2". Hiding a brand stops it from displaying in this session - auto-hiding it stops it from ever displaying again. Marking a brand selects all episodes from that brand in this session - auto-marking it selects all episodes from that brand (that haven't yet been recorded) every time you open the software.

Also new this time around - once you've fetched a channel, and the Fetch button turns solid again, press Fetch again and you'll be asked if you want to auto-fetch that channel. Channels are populated dynamically from the BBC Feeds site, so that Channels now include Genres.

The program now checks for new versions whenever you run it, which should prevent me having to email everyone with a new version - however, because this installs the software differently, you may lose all your settings the first time you install it. If you want to keep your settings, you will need to find the new user.config file and replace it with your old user.config file.

Still newer features (2009/09/13): You can mark brands and series - there's a difference. For instance, "Woman's Hour Drama" is a brand; "Woman's Hour Drama: Au Pairs" is a series.

I've added a proper icon for the software, so that should make life more pleasant on the eyes.

Even more excitingly new features (2009/11/28): I've added a dialog allowing you to edit the auto-marked brands and series, in case you accidentally hide a brand you now want to see, or if you want to see which brands are already marked.

There's now support for Flash streams, using FlvStreamer, which you will need to download. The link here is to the copy I downloaded - there may be newer versions available over time to fix various problems. As with all external programs, please take great care in what you download, and don't trust the program just on my recommendation. [Maybe I got fooled into downloading some malware.]

With all the streams available now - RealAudio, Flash AAC, Flash MP3, WMA, you may wish to tell iFetch which you prefer - and indeed, the program now features a dialog allowing you to sort the streams by preference. I would suggest not choosing WMA as anything other than a last resort, because WMAs only download in realtime using MPlayer - a half-hour programme will take half an hour to download!

More newer features (2010/07/26, version I've fixed the FLV streaming, as well as added parallelisation on the streaming, to cope with the fact that WMA streaming is done in real-time. You can alter the number of simultaneous streams, if you find that quality is a problem, from the Options page.

I've also added the version number in the top right-hand corner, so you know which version you're running.

I'm hoping to add the ability, soon, to select programmes from future schedules, so that you can set up to record ahead of time. Not sure yet how that feature will work.

Superbly newer features (2011/06/28): Wow. TV. Yeah, this took a while to get semi-right, and it still needs some serious improvement. Plus I've added support for fetching genres (aka categories), and formats. Look in the Channel drop-down list, or Browse them in the Options -> Channels dialog. TV programs currently stream as FLV files, and convert to MP4s if you have FFMpeg installed and set up correctly. Look for future versions to include the ability to specify, in some way, what size (width/heigh or number of bytes) and quality you're willing to accept. Not sure how that will work.

Running out of Superlatives features (2012/10/20): Decided to add caption / subtitle support (not sure what to call them). Spent a while trying to get ffmpeg to do this, only to find out that ffmpeg doesn't support placing captions in MP4 files. Or playing them.

Sadly, also, Media Player won't play captions in MP4 files, so you'll only notice the captions or subtitles if you're using, say, iTunes or your iPad. Or SMPlayer, or VNC, or any of a number of tools that do happily play MP4 subtitles. Hey, Microsoft, why not add support for playing captions in MP4 files? While you're at it, supporting inserting caption streams into MP4 files would be great.

Here's a picture of the program in action:What iFetch looks like

And here is where you can download the current version:

iFetch 2012/10/20