BBC Programmes: new features

Following the launch of the BBC’s Programmes website in October we’ve just launched a few new features – Radio Player calls to action and tags.

iPlayer Radio calls to action on episode pages

Radio Player CTAs

You can now launch the ‘iPlayer Radio’ to listen to our radio programmes from episode pages and see how long you’ve got left to listen from the various aggregation pages.
Passive CTAs


We are piloting the use of tags with Radio 4 programmes. We want to help people ‘browse by meaning’ to find programmes by topics, people, places related to the programmes they are interested in. So if you look at most of the Radio 4 episode pages you will find a set of tags – selecting a tag will take you to a page with all programmes with that tag.


On writing about Perl on Rails

When I wrote about ‘Perl on Rails’ on the BBC’s Radio Labs blog, naively perhaps, I didn’t expect the storm that resulted. I wrote it because I thought that it was interesting and I hoped that others would find it interesting.

Those that followed the story will be aware that much of the discussion wasn’t about what I wrote per se instead what it implied about the BBC’s infrastructure. This was a shame because ‘Perl on Rails’ is really a very good piece of technology. Its light weight, our teams understand the paradigms and syntax (without retraining) and it performs very well. Anyway you will be able to see for yourselves when we release the source.

But the BBC’s response to all of this has been incredible, and one that I am clearly very thankful for, as discussed by Curtis Poe:

We’ve recently gotten in some new IT management and today when I got into work, I found a scathing email from one of the higher ups. He read the “BBC Fails at the Internet” post and rather than blow a gasket that internal details had been made public, he forwarded it to the responsible parties, said he agreed, and made it very clear that the problem will be fixed immediately or else he will personally (do something which should obviously be kept secret). Whether or not this presages a significant change remains to be seen, but it was far and away one of the most enlightened responses I’ve seen from management to a situation like this. Rather than try to fix the blame, he is trying to fix the problem. What a novel idea!

And despite various things the BBC has done wrong, this is what the BBC does right. Blogs are for communicating, not for press releases. They’re not official discussions, but they can say a lot more about a company than an official communication which is carefully vetted by lawyers. And while the BBC has plenty of blogs, you don’t even have to blog there about your job if you don’t want to… I finally get to work for a company which “gets” blogs.

Quite right.