The BBC is to allow people to download its shows to their mobile phones and tablets for the first time.

It is hoped the move will avoid nightmare tales of holidaymakers accidentally racking up huge mobile phone bills while watching TV abroad.

Now, they can simply download shows before they go

Programmes to be made available for download from today on iPhones and iPads include Doctor Who.

A version for Android handsets and tablets will be made available 'in the near future'

The BBC also revealed new data about who was watching programmes on the move.

It said children's content is particularly popular on tablets, as they are devices kids can sit and play with wherever.

BBC Three comedy is popular on smart phones, and the corporation believes it is watched by young people while out and about or waiting for a bus or train.

Daniel Danker, the BBC's general manager of on-demand programmes, said: '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.'

'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.

Up to 50 hours of TV will fit on a 16GB iPhone or iPad, or 25 hours of higher-definition content.

Users must have a wi-fi connection to download BBC programmes, but will soon be able to select shows for offline viewing via a 3G mobile phone network.

The iPlayer service has been a huge success, and the BBC says mobile requests for the iPlayer have leapt 142% in the past year to 30m a month.

The iPad is now the second most popular way to watch the iPlayer, after the PC.

The BBC has also made the service available via a plethora of other devices, from the Xbox 360 and PS3 games consoles to TV set top boxes such as the YouView service.