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The number of BBC iPlayer programme requests rose by 33 per cent in 2013, in what was a record year for the online catch-up service.

In total, the broadcaster received 2.2 billion requests for BBC TV shows and 800 million for BBC radio shows across all platforms.

December alone saw 271 million requests for TV and radio shows - representing a 25 per cent rise on 12 months earlier.

Festive TV specials such as 'Doctor Who: The Time Of The Doctor', 'EastEnders' and 'Mrs Brown’s Boys' were the most popular programmes throughout the month.

'Call The Midwife', 'Gangsta Granny', 'Still Open All Hours' and CBBC’s 'The Dumping Ground' also fared well.

Throughout 2013 as a whole, 'Top Gear' proved to be the most popular programme on BBC iPlayer.

A total of 3.4 million requests were received for the show's 'Africa Special Part 1', and 3.2 million for the first episode of series 19.

Indeed 'Top Gear' made up ten of the top 20 most watched programmes on the catch-up service last year.

PCs remained the biggest single platform for requests in 2013, accounting for an average of 43 per cent of the total each month.

However, 2013 was seemingly the year the audience discovered new ways to watch catch-up content, with tablets coming to the fore.

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The BBC reported a 104 per cent increase year-on-year in tablet viewing, with the touchscreen devices accounting for 20 per cent of overall requests.

Indeed the iPlayer mobile app was downloaded over 20 million times - 942,000 of which were over the Christmas period.

Dan Taylor, Head of BBC iPlayer for BBC Future Media, said that with three billion programme requests across over 1,000 devices, 2013 was "another record-breaking year" for the service.

"We're delighted that iPlayer is enabling more and more people to enjoy the fantastic shows we create when and where they want," he stated.

Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content for BBC iPlayer, commented that the British broadcaster had "begun the journey to transform iPlayer from a TV catch-up service into an online TV destination in its own right".

She highlighted the introduction of iPlayer exclusive content and programme premiering - claiming there was a "very positive" audience response to both innovations.

"As we move into 2014, we will originate more exclusive programmes for iPlayer, as well as offer an ambitious range of content to complement our biggest brands and events," Ms Jaye stated

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