The BBC has signed a deal to offer its popular iPlayer service to Virgin Media television customers.

Viewers will be able to catch up on BBC shows such as The Apprentice, Gavin and Stacey and Top Gear without the need for downloading through the new contract, announced in a joint statement today.

And at the touch of the red button on their remote control, Virgin Media audiences will be able to access full-screen BBC programmes from the previous seven days at no additional cost.

Malcolm Wall, chief executive of content at Virgin Media, said the internet and phone provider was "delighted to be the first TV platform in the UK to offer our customers BBC iPlayer".

"The enormous success of iPlayer online has demonstrated the desire TV viewers have for viewing quality programmes at a time that suits them, and now it's available from the comfort of the living room," he added.

Some 42 million requests for BBC programming were made through the iPlayer service in the first three months of the year alone, with the number of weekly users rising from 75,000 in January to 1.1 million in March.

Ashley Highfield, BBC director of future media and technology, said the corporation has "always envisaged BBC iPlayer on a TV platform".

"By working with Virgin Media, this ambition has today been realised," he continued.

"This partnership takes us a step closer to transforming the way our audiences watch TV.

"It also further underlines our commitment to making BBC iPlayer a multiplatform offering that appeals to a wide range of audiences."

The BBC recently signed a deal with Nintendo to offer the iPlayer to Wii users.

30/04/2008 09:33:41