Why I use torrents instead of iPlayer

BBC iPlayer
Great... but not perfect

I watch a fair bit of stuff off the BBC these days, yet I still find myself using torrents to download programmes rather than using the BBC iPlayer. I don’t have a TV so the internet is the only convenient way for me to catch up.

But why do I use torrents rather than streaming or downloading from the BBC directly? Some of the reasons are a little picky, I admit. Others genuinely bother me or could be something the Beeb could work on. In the meantime, though, despite the fact I can often download faster from Auntie, I’ll stick to slower torrents.

I’d like to point out, though, that I watch the programmes once then delete them – usually within the same time-frame given for iPlayer downloads.

  • Torrents are generally smaller downloads. An hour’s programming is typically 730Mb compared to iPlayer’s 850Mb or so. This does mount up if you’re on a limited, throttled or capped ISP account.
  • iPlayer playback can still be stuttery on my laptop and netbook. It’s particularly bad under Linux. No such issues with AVI files taken from torrents. GOM and VLC play them easily enough.
  • I can download or convert AVI files for viewing on a PSP. This means really small downloads if I get them direct and portable viewing once I have them.
  • iPlayer won’t work for me when I’m abroad even though I’m resident in the UK. This is very annoying though I do understand the BBC’s reasoning for the restriction.
  • Some programs on iPlayer are only available for streaming, such as Match of the Day. Again, I appreciate the licensing restrictions being placed on them by the Premier League, but that doesn’t help when I want to watch it at another time. After all, I could record it on video, DVD or hard drive direct from the TV to watch any time I felt like it.
  • There’s only so much stuff you can get on iPlayer until it vanishes over time. I like to watch series all in one shot, not week by week. With some series this is possible (series catch-up), but with others it isn’t. Some series just disappear completely. I managed to catch three episodes of Casualty 1909 then went abroad. I couldn’t get the last three on iPlayer when I got home.
  • I run dual OS’s on my laptops and also run two machines. I’d like to be able to d/l on one machine and still watch on the other – but I can’t due to the DRM. I have managed to d/l on one OS and watch on the other on the same machine, though.

Again, please don’t get me wrong. I think iPlayer’s great. It’s just a little too limited for my personal needs right now.

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Confession Part 2

Torchwood logo

That may be the name of a song, actually. In this case it’s referring to my ongoing addiction to all things “new gen” Doctor Who. Having finished all four seasons and the specials, I moved onto Torchwood. Anyone else watch the whole series in two days (while also watching Transformers 2)?

The sci-fi’s good, the effects are better than Doctor Who and there are women kissing in it. Mind, I still get uncomfortable watching two blokes paying tonsil hockey.

So what took me so long getting onto the Dr Who bandwagon? Simple – the first two episodes of the relaunch were bloody awful. The story was crap, the acting (Doctor aside) was dreadful, the effects were a joke, and Billie Piper had only just begun to show how mind-bogglingly annoying she was. It really was complete cardboard.

I forced my way through those episodes again and then onto the later stuff. Amazingly, it just got better and better, much as Buffy did between the first half-season and into the second. Story arcs and in-jokes get set up. References appear between spin-off series. Actual character relationships develop, and oh! that “Face of Boh” revelation at the end of season 3!

With luck I can finish season two of Torchwood in the next couple of days around booking flights and packing. Unfortunately, I gather season three – a 5-part, one-week special – will be broadcast while I’m Thailand. Arse. Seeing as I can’t access iPlayer over there (and it works like crap on Linux anyway), and will have expired by the time I get back I’m rather glad we have torrents.

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A picture of the TARDIS as taken at BBC Wales ...
Pic taken by Wongy. I'll never heard the end of this.

OK, it’s time to ‘fess up. I’m kind of embarassed about this and only one other person knows. They caught me at it, so it was quite hard to deny. Mind, she does it as well so at least I have someone else to feel guilty with.

I feel pretty bad about it, but I’m even doing it while I type this blog up. Thankfully there’s nobody else in, right now. Hopefully I’ve got some more “me time” before I get caught again.


OK. I’m sat in the front room and watching Doctor Who. I’m halfway through the second (recent) series and I’ve only been playing catchup for a couple of days.

There. That’s a weight off my mind. Please don’t think the worse of me for it. I’m sorry.

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The name’s Brand. Russel Brand. And I ****** your grand-daughter.

And I don’t care. Those outside of the UK likely haven’t heard of the people involved in the current BBC scandal doing the rounds. Russell Brand (who I only heard of this week, but I’ve been out of the country for some time) and Jonathan Ross (a somewhat whacky DJ/TV personality) left telephone messages for Andrew Sachs (who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers many years ago) claiming that Brand had shagged Sach’s grand-daughter Georgina Baillie. Who herself plays a goth vampire in a travelling burlesque show called the Satanic Sluts (look for her there under “Voluptua“).

Are you still with me?

Thing is, it was a joke. Sachs has come out and said that the apologies offered by the Beeb, Brand and Ross are all nice and he sounds like someone who’s pissed off but would rather get over it. His publicist is more angry by all accounts. And Baillie / Voluptua has cancelled some shows in embarrassment. Quite how someone who’s life revolves around wearing hot clothes with her boobs hanging out, pretending to cut other women’s throats in faux-lesbian photos and stage shows can claim to be embarrassed by anything is beyond me, but what the hey.

Sachs has pretty much retired, and his grand-daughter is going to be rolling in publicity through this. She’s been trying to get a career as an actress, and what any film studio wants is a “name”. It’s hard to make someone famous – she’s just had a shitload of free publicity. And she’s hot as ****.

The Guardian are calling for their heads (surprise), while the Sun’s published photos of Voluptua with her tits out. Nice to see how our media works. And a shame I can’t find those pics online.

What’s teeing me off is the number of people baying for the two DJ’s heads and asking them to be removed from radio for evermore. Hang on, if they were listening then surely they know the kind of stuff these two guys get up to. It’s often near the knuckly and Ross is known for being pretty sexually forward – or at least dropping more double entendres than a 6-year backlog of Finbarr Saunders cartoons.

If you don’t like them… don’t ******* listen. It’s as simple as that. Frankly I think Ross has/had (like I said, been out of the country for a bit) one of the few watchable chat shows on TV and he was the highlight of BBC2’s They Think It’s All Over. He’s genuinely funny. Brand… dunno. He’s some bloke that’s become famous since I left.

If we have to start banning people from the radio, can we please ban Chris Moyles instead? He doesn’t offend me. He’s just incredibly ******* ****.

And to save you googling, here’s some links to pics of the hot chick involved…

I’m also peeved as I just noticed they’ll be “supporting” Wednesday 13 at his Hallowe’en show in London. Which I really wanted to go to but I can’t as I’m flying to Geneva on the Sunday. Feck!

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A couple of quotes

From today’s BBC website live Premiership coverage page. Always a good way to follow the action if you can’t get any other coverage. You know, for stupid reasons like the bloody annoying regional/national licenses the FA insist on persecuting all non-resident Brits with. ********.


“1457: “My Geordie mate here has called his son Kevin Keegan Smith, as he was born the day Keegan was appointed manager again.”
Phil, RAF Waddington, via text”

“1330: And so it came to pass, that the 19th day of the first month in the two thousand and eighth year after Christ, should henceforth be know as Kevin Keegan Day.”

“1339: (See 1330:) “Otherwise known as the holiday of hopeless optimism.”
nogginthenogforever on 606″

“1343: “If Newcastle lose today, Keegan will be on a beach this time next week after getting the sack.”
Jonjo Wood, via text”

“1348: “According to reports, the people of Newcastle are petitioning for Keegan to be put on the back of local coins – one Toon local described the idea as ‘mint’!”
Anonymous, via text”

Personally, I feel like Oz in the last episode of season 1 of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Which I would quote directly if ITV.com’s ******* web page would let me view the archive outside of the UK. ********.