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(Pocket-lint) - Mobile phone users will now be able download TV shows on their mobile phone for the first time, via the iPlayer app the BBC has confirmed.

"From Tuesday, licence fee-payers will be able to download BBC programmes from the iPlayer video-on-demand service and watch them offline on Apple's iPhone and iPad at no extra cost, including while abroad," reports the Guardian on the news from the Beeb."The download function will launch on Google Android smartphones in the near future," 

Previously the iPlayer app has been able to stream content to mobile phones only if the user has an internet connection - which, if you are using 3G, can be very expensive in additional data charges. Users also have to be physically in the UK.

The new offering means that users will be able to "load up" their phone or tablet to use on flights or before they go on holiday or aboard for business.

Daniel Danker, the BBC's general manager of on-demand programmes, told the Guardian: "This fundamentally changes one of the most annoying restrictions about viewing programmes. It means audiences are liberated from the constraints [of online-only viewing] and it fundamentally changes what it means to go on holiday."

He added: "With mobile downloads, you can now load up your mobile phone or tablet with hours and hours of BBC programmes, then watch them on the road, on the tube, on a plane, without worrying about having an internet connection or running up a mobile data bill."

Once downloaded, programmes will be available for 30 days, or within seven days of being watched. Users must have a Wi-Fi connection to download the iPlayer content and be using the BBC's iPlayer app. 

The new service isn't vailable at time of writing, but we are expecting an update to the iPlayer app in the iTunes store shortly, or maybe by the time you read this.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 16 April 2013.