BBC to bring classic TV and radio back to iPlayer “in unprecedented times”

Spooks, The Missing, Waking The Dead and more will be available to stream


The BBC has announced it will make classic TV box-sets and radio programmes available on iPlayer as part of a wide-ranging set of measures to help the nation through “challenging times” as the coronavirus pandemic continues.


The broadcaster announced today (18th March) that it will be “using all of its resources – channels, stations and output – to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained.”

TV box-sets confirmed to go up on BBC iPlayer shortly include Spooks, The Missing, Waking The Dead, French And Saunders, Wallander and The Honourable Woman, as well as more from BBC Three.

Also promised is “an exciting new iPlayer experience for children, offering a wide range of entertaining and educational series.”

Radio 4 will be digging into its archive of drama with titles including The Complete Smiley, all of the novels by the Bronte Sisters, film noir classics by Raymond Chandler, and “reassuring favourites [such] as Rumpole and Wodehouse”, while classic editions of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and Just A Minute will also get another airing.

Podcast dramas will also be available to a wider radio audience for the first time, including the award-winning Forest 404 starring Doctor Who’s Pearl Mackie and The Whisperer In Darkness.

Pearl Mackie in Forest 404
Pearl Mackie in BBC podcast Forest 404

Classic sport, comedy and drama will be made available via BBC Sounds, with an online archive of “thousands” of vintage radio programmes to be searchable by way of the BBC’s Programme Index.

Finally, “at a time when British culture is having to close its doors” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the BBC plans to run an arts and culture service – Culture in Quarantine – “focused most intensely” across Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and digital platforms.

This will include guides to shuttered exhibitions, performances from famous musicians and comedy clubs and new plays created especially for broadcast along with poetry and book readings.