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The Programme List

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Tristan Ferne | 14:16 UK time, Monday, 26 September 2011

There's so much to watch and listen to these days. We often hear about exciting new TV and radio programmes through friends, adverts or reviews. But do we remember to watch them? And how easy is it to find something we half remember? The Programme List prototype from BBC Research & Development helps you quickly make a list of programmes when you hear about them and then easily find them again later. We support all national BBC TV and radio channels as well as some partner TV channels. Until now the prototype has been invite-only but now it is open to anyone with a Twitter account (and a love of lists).

What can you do?

Having signed in with Twitter you can use The Programme List on your computer or your smartphone to:

  • Quickly search for recent and upcoming programmes on TV and radio
  • Add entire shows, series or just episodes to your list
  • See what programmes are on your list and when and where they are available; broadcast and online
The Search page for The Programme List

You can search for programmes by title, presenters, guests or other keywords. We include programmes from the past 7 days and the next 10 days and support all the main BBC national TV and radio channels plus some partner channels from ITV, Channel 4 and Five. From the search you can add anything to your list, from a single episode to every series.

Saved List for The Programme List

Your saved list shows every available episode for all the programmes you've added. For each programme it will show you when and where it is available, including links to where programmes are available online. Programmes remain on your list even if they are no longer available and then they become active again if a new series starts or the programme is repeated - so you don't need to worry about missing them.

On Today screen for The Programme List

Finally "On Today" shows you which of your programmes are actually on TV or radio today. Something to use when you just want to sit down in front of the TV and watch something.


We are exploring how people remember programmes and how best to help them do that. So we'd like you to try using The Programme List and let us know what you think, how you use it and how you'd make it better. You can read more about the development of this prototype in our previous posts and you can follow our updates at @programmelist


  • Comment number 1.

    It looks like a fairly cool idea - somewhat reminiscent of the features I enjoy on my TiVo. But from a BBC perspective, why would I not just use 'favourites' on iPlayer? Or more to the point, why not put the effort into expanding iPlayer favourites to support future broadcasts, rather than building a totally separate prototype?

  • Comment number 2.

    A nice clean design and it all seems to work really well. It's interesting that you chose Twitter for signing in with rather than the BBC profile, but I suppose given the cross-channel approach to the application, that might be for a reason.

    I also really liked the smart handling of multi-layered programming names, where there might be an over-arching series title, sub-title and then programme name. Neat.

    A few thoughts about making it more useful:

    - Add programmes and series that currently aren't on-air. I realise that this might be a database/coding challenge, especially with non-BBC channels, but it would make it easier for users to learn when their favourite series are returning.

    - Add "Yesterday", or indeed a full calendar system. What did I miss last night? The quick links to iPlayer/ITV Player/etc. are great - so make more use of them!

    - We need to be able to get the data out of the system and into places where we can see it beyond the website. The option to have a daily summary email sent at a time of your choosing perhaps? An embeddable widget for Facebook/blogs/wherever. Or make "Today" into a personal RSS feed, so my RSS reader gives me a personalised list of radio and TV programmes each day. A basic mobile app?

    - It's a shame that there's not some kind of universal approach to the Sky+ Remote Record facility. Essentially I'd like to make programmes tag-able so that I can either record or watch them on demand via the platform of my choosing at a later date. But I suspect I'm asking a lot of this in particular.

  • Comment number 3.

    1. I'm struggling to understand why BBC iD was not offered as the primary sign in method. (Or at least, a sign in option.)

    2. I can't see how this will integrate with, or replace, or supplement, the 'favourites' toolbar in iPlayer. I guess the blunt strategic question is: are you planning to ditch 'favourites' from iPlayer?

    3. Is it possible to delete items from one's programme list?

    4. Why do you want to see tweets from someone's timeline and who they follow?

    5. If having signed in to Programme List, is it possible to sign out?


  • Comment number 4.

    Love this. It's bold and clear and gets straight to the point.

    What I would love though is a way of storing keywords so that when a programme that fits those keywords is broadcast or due for imminent broadcast I received a tweet or DM or even something on a RSS feed to tell me.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for all your comments. Some answers...

    Firstly, it's designed and built to find out how people would use something like this and we hope it will inform the future of iPlayer and favourites across the BBC. And thanks for all your feature suggestions - that's exactly the kind of thing we want to learn from you.

    Using Twitter for login was a quick and easy option for us to use as a standalone prototyping team and we thought it would be the best option for an initial release. There's a sign-out option in the top right of every page and we don't read your tweets or look at your followers, it's just the lowest level of access available when using Twitter as an authoriser (equivalent to what's visible on a public profile).

    And, yes you can delete things - go to your list, select a programme and then look for the "Remove from list" button.

  • Comment number 6.

    Looks interesting. I guess one of the things that baffled me will probably be tidied up in the next iteration of the site - the multiple entries for what is effectively the same programme e.g. Quantum Leap or Poirot.

    It'd be nice to have some sort of overview of what's on today or tomorrow, so that I can just add that. Even if it's just today's programmes so that I can add what I'm currently watching to the list.

  • Comment number 7.

    I do like this, as other posters have said the design is nice and clean and it's a good idea as I always forget to watch and listen to stuff. I've a few suggestions that might make this more useful though.

    If you are using Twitter then why not allow list-creators to quickly share and recommend with their followers. This would build the list and actually make it useful as a way of building audience etc through the crowd. An embed code for 'my list' would do the same. I know I'd add them to a list but then forget to check it. Equally, an 'add me to your list' icon within listings would be handy. A bit like using Sky+/V+. Radio hasn't really got this yet, so you do right to fill that gap.

    It is, though, only useful if we can remember to check the list. So, it probably needs a way to prompt us to listen/watch or as has been suggested a link to connect it to iplayer, so when we log-in there the programmes we've listed pop us as 'pending' items? or an email alert to say "Hi, you've got un-heard programmes waiting for you" Syncing to podcast clients might have the same effect. Can the list generate RSS that you can add to iTunes?

  • Comment number 8.

    " Until now the prototype has been invite-only but now it is open to anyone with a Twitter account (and a love of lists). "

    I would be willing, indeed happy and interested, to try this if you had set it up to work with my BBC ID. I'm already registered with the BBC but I am not, nor wish to be, a twittering squirrel!

    Clearly R&D were also copied into the memo about the BBC delivering licence fee payers to the advertiser via Facebook and Twitter.

    What was that I heard on BBC radio the other day about not having product placement on the BBC? Both Twitter and Facebook are commercial organisations and the BBC is littered with adverts for them!

    To not give any alternative is going a bit far. Unless Twitter are paying for the development, which I doubt they are.

    For this reason alone I am unable to comment further on this possibly excellent new service.


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