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Some iCal views into /programme data

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Duncan Robertson Duncan Robertson | 16:07 UK time, Thursday, 17 July 2008

UPDATE: Due to the webcal:// URI scheme not being official, and causing problems and confusion for people when subscribing to calendars in some browsers, and on some OS'es, I have removed them from this article.

iCalendar is a standard for calendar data exchange. It is most notably used by Apple's iCal application, Microsoft's Outlook and Google Calendar, to import and export calendar information. We thought that some of the views in /programmes would also work well in the iCal format, so we have exposed a few for you to subscribe to, and play with. We don't yet have public links pointing to these urls ( the work to automagically display all available formats per url is in progress ), but I have stuck some examples below so you can get the idea. We'll start with day schedules examples:

Subscribe to the day schedule for BBC One London:
or tomorrow:
or any day:
or the day schedule for Radio 6 Music:

Upcoming episodes that are in the genre Music/Dance & Electronica on the BBC:
Upcoming episodes that are in the genre Music/Dance & Electronica on Radio 1:
Upcoming episodes in the genre Sport/Athletics on the BBC

Upcoming episodes of Eastenders
Upcoming (New) episodes of Eastenders
Episodes of Eastenders available to watch again

Hopefully, that should get you going. Checkout the actual urls to see how they are constructed, this will help you experiment with others.

The Feeds above are all available to subscribe to. This means that in your iCal supported calendar of choice, you would choose to Subscibe to a calendar instead of just importing one. This would expect a URL (like the ones above), and will normally allow you to add how often you would like the URL checked for updates.

A note though. If you choose a top level genre to subscribe to on the BBC, like for instance Music, you will find that amount of data returned will overwhelm your calendar. In this case choose a sub-genre below to filter down the results.

Finally a photo of my phone, with some upcoming Sci-Fi programmes on the BBC showing. Just because I like to live the stereotype.

iPhone Sci-Fi screenshot


  • Comment number 1.

    Looks great! Are there any iCal examples of feeds for the BBC's Proms coverage, on radio and TV?

  • Comment number 2.

    @alfabet There are, you can get a feed of all upcoming stuff for Proms 2008 at this url:


  • Comment number 3.

    Nice. Would be good if they went further into the future. The proms one (above) seems to stop next Monday for example...

  • Comment number 4.

    @Ed Lyons Yeah, sorry about that, I agree. This will be resolved 'next release' in the next few days. Any calendars you have subscribed to will just extend their information when the data becomes available.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think this is a brilliant idea! I'm forever checking either the physical or virtual radio times (radiotimes.com) to check for when my programme's are on, all I do now is launch iCal. There's a great potential to provide links on specific programme's websites. I had a go at Top Gear and it worked beautifully even telling me what's on in the programme. Keep the amazing work coming our way.

  • Comment number 6.

    The use of the webcal:// scheme seems a bit redundant - the text/calendar mime type should be all browsers need to decided how to open/display the data.

    Either way, it should be possible to get Firefox 3 (and other browsers support these HTML5 API methods) to open iCalendar content in web apps like Google Calendar.

    That said, I can't get either of these javascript snippets to work properly (for different reasons). Any help? (I followed https://lifehacker.com/392287/set-firefox-3-to-launch-gmail-for-mailto-links as a guide).

    javascript:window.navigator.registerProtocolHandler("webcal","https://www.google.com/calendar/render?cid=%s","Google Calendar")

    javascript:window.navigator.registerContentHandler("text/calendar","https://www.google.com/calendar/render?cid=%s","Google Calendar")

    NB these need to be pasted into the URL bar in Firefox 3 above a tab with Google Calendar open.

  • Comment number 7.

    "The use of the webcal:// scheme seems a bit redundant - the text/calendar mime type should be all browsers need to decided how to open/display the data"

    The problem is that you 'subscribe' to these calendars. If you let the browser decide on it's own, it seems (in my experience) to just add the events as 'static' events, which is not what you want in this instance.

    As for the JS snippets, I can't help I'm afraid, but like to hear if you get it solved.

  • Comment number 8.

    To make the javascript work in Firefox 3, you need to naviagate to about:config, then change the setting: gecko.handlerService.allowRegisterFromDifferentHost to true.

    Then run the javascript, then turn that setting back to false.

    If you leave it as true, then any old website can add handlers, which is not secure. (i.e. a site could change the email handler to a "fake" gmail signin page that would steal your password.)

  • Comment number 9.

    Sorry - I don't understand the point of thw 'webcal://' prefix - the blog says it is to assist the browser to understand how to open the resource but in fact it (IE6) doesn't understand it at all and won't load the URL

    If you replace webcal with https:// then I can save the 'xxx.ics' files; however, Outlook does not understand the import.

    Despite the Outlook calendar import function specifically wanting .ics files, the import routine fails with ' import of vCalendar file failed'

    Any ideas ?

  • Comment number 10.

    Whomwah, I can't get the webcal feed for the Proms to work in iCal, get this message:
    No calendar was found at webcal://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ckzql/episodes/upcoming.ics
    Please check the URL

  • Comment number 11.

    It looks like the separate TV and Radio Proms programmes were collapsed into one. Try this address instead: webcal://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007v097/episodes/upcoming.ics

  • Comment number 12.

    I can't seem to work out the URL for the iCal file for the Olympic coverage, is there one?

  • Comment number 13.

    "I can't seem to work out the URL for the iCal file for the Olympic coverage, is there one?"

    Same problem here. Looking forward to solution on this one. I know the BBC can figure it out :)

    Adam@ Smooth Fitness Coupons.com


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