Freeview: yes the service is free except for the cost of two set top boxes - on
You are quite correct in saying that a fair number of the channels on Freeview provide archive material on a repetitive schedule. This is, ahem, "more choice".
You might be better off buying a personal video recorder, rather than a Freeview box for the VCR. They are much, much easier to use and you don't have to set two boxes to record each program.
Personal Video Recorders.