The list of features lacking from the BBC's iPlayer is really beginning to dwindle! Latest to be stricken is the inability to 'pre-book' programmes to be downloaded once available. That's right, folks; in a yet-to-be-rolled-out update, the iPlayer will gain the function to set shows as-yet-un-aired to be downloaded as and when they become available.
Obviously these programmes will still be subject to the same restriction as any others. Videos must be watched within 30 days of downloading and expire after seven days of the first play. That's a small price to pay for being able to call dibs on downloads seven days before they're actually available to download for free, though.
For now the service is to be PC only so Virgin Media subscribers will still have to play the fun game of "is that programme available yet?" There's no reason to think the BBC wouldn't include cable viewers in the fun at some point, though. Even if only to the extent of pop-up notifications once programmes hit the catch-up service, perhaps.
Frankly, though, anything that saves me the effort of sitting at my PC hitting F5 until 11:20 on a Sunday night waiting for Stephen Fry in America to be available to download is a Good Thing in my book. Well played, BBC, well played.