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BBC launches comprehensive programme search tool

By | Published on Wednesday 3 June 2020


The BBC has launched a new online tool to search over 200,000 current and archive TV and radio shows across its iPlayer and Sounds apps, and other digital services. The Programme Explorer is still a prototype, put together as part of the broadcaster’s response to COVID-19.

It makes BBC TV and radio shows all accessible in one place for the first time since the broadcaster pulled radio programming out of the main iPlayer app in 2012.

However, the new service also provides the option to search via keywords and filters – including searching for items available worldwide or in the UK only – making it easier to find programmes on specific topics across the BBC’s broadcast output. So, for example, you could find every appearance or mention of Ed Sheeran ever. Or any time anyone has talked about slippers.

“Programme Explorer is a real treasure trove for anyone with a niche passion about virtually anything, and an invaluable informal learning tool”, says Executive Editor of the BBC Archive Peter Rippon. “There are over 200,000 programmes available for people to watch or listen, and until now it’s been difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for”.

Or what you’re not looking for, maybe. “This tool also makes it easy to find things you didn’t know you were looking for”, he adds, “sending you down a rabbit hole, following your curiosity through a wide range of brilliant BBC programmes from across the archive”.

Explore the Programme Explorer here. See how long you can go before you just start tapping in swear words (there are no results for ‘cunt’, but ‘bollocks’ brings up Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to the joint US Senate committee).