All I want for Xmas is iPlayer (+ related books!)

What’s your favourite television show of all time?

Mine would be a toss up between Pride & Prejudice and Spooks – both of which are available if you subscribe to the BBC’s iPlayer app, which is now in the AppStore for the iPad (with other platforms to come, I gather) in Australia.

Of course, uBookish always reads the book before watching a film or television adaptation (well, I try to, at least), and recommends you do too (I’ve linked through to some of the book versions I’ve read further on).

When Pride & Prejudice first aired in the early ’90s, a group of us would get together in an inner Sydney share flat each week to watch it.

Later, I had a very sensible lawyer boyfriend who would stay home on Saturday nights to watch The Bill. BORING, I thought at the time. A few years later I was an addict, one who cried when the final episode aired.

During my three-year stint in Hong Kong a decade or so ago, I regularly joined a group of expats for champagne and DVD marathons: Cold Feet and Sex & The City (which was censored on HKTV) were favourites.

These days I’m into Monroe, The Slap, The Hamster Wheel, Miranda, Offspring, Downton Abbey, Covert Affairs and Crownies.

Other previous favourites have included Alias, To Play the King, Doc Martin, Cranford, Absolutely Fabulous, Mistresses, Cutting It, Silent Witness, This Life and Lark Rise to Candleford.

As a child, I loved watching Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister, To The Manor Born and The Good Life with my parents.

Oh, and I’m something of an addict of just about any period drama, especially those based on favourite books. Jane Eyre, Emma, Brideshead Revisited and Little Dorrit spring to mind.

But I don’t watch actual free-to-air or pay television anymore.

I never seem to be at home or awake or available when favourite programs actually air.

I was never very good at setting VCRs so I’m glad that’s over. I wasn’t keen on the idea of illegal downloads for obvious reasons either.

So I’m very happy about free catch-up TV and individual episode downloads on iTunes.

I watch Channel Ten programs I’ve missed via their iPhone app. Seven doesn’t have an app, but we have its catch-up service, and SBS’s, on our Sony Bravia internet TV. I haven’t needed to catch up on anything on Nine (what does that tell you?), but I gather they do have browser-based catch-up service.

My all time favourite app, though, is ABC iView. I get my regular fix of MediaWatch and Q&A, as well as a couple of hours of quality drama and comedy, via iView on my iPad every week. The Slap while I eat my lunch at work, The Hamster Wheel or Miranda in bed late at night (stifling giggles to avoid waking anyone else up).

My son is regularly glued to Fireman Sam, Peppa Pig, Grandpa in My Pocket, Mister Maker and Bananas in Pyjamas on iView’s ABC4Kids section too.

My husband switches between nature documentaries and current affairs.

He’d still like to subscribe to Foxtel for the AFL next season, but I’d rather receive a year’s subscription to iPlayer. It costs $89.99 for a year, or $9.49 for a month.

We’re only the second region in the world (after Europe), to gain access to this tablet treasure trove of archived video-on-demand (it’s not catch-up here because so many of the BBC’s current programs are already airing on different networks in Australia – rights are a tricky business).

If I were lucky enough to become a subscriber this Christmas, I’d probably then have to divide my summer holiday time between reading (or rereading) works by Flora Thompson, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Shelley and Henry James and watching the television versions. It’d be a tough few weeks, but I reckon I’d cope.