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bbc iplayerThose of us who spend a lot of time online often choose to view TV and films on the computer instead of on their TV. In fact, often these days the computer is the TV. Sadly though, some of the world’s best content is restricted to certain countries, without the option of allowing citizens elsewhere to just pay for access. Instead they seem content to allow third parties to profit by offering perfectly legal hacks.

So, if you’re a fan of Internet TV, but not a fan of “Sorry, you can’t view this content in your country” notices then read on. Here’s three great (mostly free) ways to get access to your favourite content worldwide, particularly the BBC iPlayer.

Proxy Switching

The first method most people try to use is by using a proxy. Proxies can work really well for some sites, but not at all for others. Plus, active proxies come and go all the time. Sometimes you can spend quite a while just trying to get things to work – and even then it can leave you with a flaky or slow connection!

However, if you’re going to give proxies a try, here’s some cool tools to help you:

Some starting points for proxies:

bbc iplayer

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VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Using a VPN will usually work for accessing most video sites. However, the downside is that you’ll usually have to pay for access or convince a friend in the desired country to host a VPN server for you.

Here’s a few articles on VPNs you might like to read:

We won’t go into too much detail on generic VPN access, since if you know how to use one you probably don’t need more information. There are also a few specific tools (mostly based on VPNs) which are free, easy to use and they work!

bbc iplayer download

Expat Shield

Expat Shield is a free program for Windows users (Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7) which gives you a UK IP address. It does all the fussing about for you and simply works. Because it gives you a UK IP address, it will allow access to sites as if you are in Britain, but not allow access to country-specific sites from elsewhere. In order to pay the bills, Expat Shield asks you to pay a small amount for Elite Access to watch BBC iPlayer.

bbc iplayer download


Tunlr is a simple, free tool designed to give you access to any video sites anywhere. They do the hard work at their end to ensure that you have access to Netflix, Hulu, MTV, CBS in the US, plus BBC iPlayer and other great services from various countries.

As a user, all you need to do from your end is to change your DNS (Domain Name System) servers to use their addresses. It’s easy to set up and once you’re done it just works. Now, you can’t go leaving your DNS settings like this though, as they have a lot of people to serve. In order to remind you to change back to your own ISP’s DNS servers for everyday use, they artificially slow down any network traffic that isn’t video streaming.

bbc iplayer download


TunnelBear is a free tool for Windows and Mac users, which uses a simple switch to give you a US or UK IP address whenever you want it. The only catch is that the free account is limited to 500MB per month, so you’ll need to be sparing with it if you want to keep your access free. Read more about how to Access US-Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear Access US-Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear Access US-Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear If you’re living outside of the United States, here’s a familiar scenario for you. You’re reading your favorite tech blog, and suddenly see a post about the latest and greatest in web services. Maybe it’s... Read More .

bbc iplayer app

Mix It Up For Free BBC iPlayer Access

So, you’ve tried all these services and you want to keep your access free? Here’s a plan of attack: Use Tunlr, ExpatShield, a VPN or a proxy in order to download your BBC iPlayer shows. You could choose “Series Record” for all your favourite shows and leave the computer downloading them all while you’re busy elsewhere.

Then when you want to watch your shows and authenticate iPlayer, use TunnelBear to quickly switch you to a UK IP address while you watch. To keep TunnelBear free, ensure that you’re not using any data while you’re watching.

bbc iplayer app

bbc iplayer

More About Watching BBC

If you love the BBC, check out these articles too:

Note: If you work for the BBC and you think this is unfair, please consider simply letting us pay a monthly/yearly BBC fee for access. There are a lot of us who would pay you! The iPad application is a good start.

What’s your favourite way to get access to BBC iPlayer?

  1. Steve Jones
    June 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I would suggest going with a Smart DNS instead of a VPN in order to increase the speed of the content delivery. You can get onto a beta with Tunlr now for free as they appear to be re-launching their service. . It is a great service to get US Netflix content and other services. It is also very easy to setup.

  2. Jamie
    April 7, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Completely disagree with articles like this, we pay our license fees for us to watch not you lot!!! The BBC is one of the few things that are a British privilege and should remain that way!

    • bumbery
      May 3, 2015 at 7:42 am

      do not be jalous.
      what difference does it make? it won't get BBC bankrupted...

    • Joanna
      May 24, 2016 at 5:50 am

      British privilege?
      What about all the Brits that have gone on holiday?
      Or those that have gone to a different country for business?
      Or those that have settled in another country? - does that make them any less British?

      And if it is such a British privilege then maybe passwords should be handed with your British passwords.

  3. ab1
    December 12, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Legal issues aside, if you are not afraid for roll up your sleeves and dive into Linux and The Cloud, this guide shows how to implement a solution to get around BBC iPlayer geo-restriction in Australia:

    Also, having a few friends share a solution like this is significantly cheaper than individually paying $5 a month for a commercial service.

    -- ab1

    • ghrib
      March 10, 2015 at 9:17 am

      May halp mee plz ac/pk13HABB 0009127900110501

  4. Alastair Andrew
    December 19, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I can suggest a VPN solution. With private VPN account you can bypass your firewall, visit all blocked web sites, watch TV online, bbc iplayer, hulu, Netflix, Boxee box, listen radio, access Flickr, YouTube, use Skype if it is blocked in your region and more. For me all work perfect with SSL based VPN.I researched appropriate VPN service and I found HideMyAss and I must admit I am very satisfied! Their services are highly effective and affordable!
    Here is the list of Top Best VPN Service Provider of the industry

  5. Kieran
    December 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Expat Shield is a nasty piece of software... best to avoid it and its also extremely hard to uninstall from Windows.

  6. NiKEUS
    October 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Smart DNS service does the trick for me, I purchased a VPN service with smart DNS, you can buy just smart DNS services for under £3 a month.

  7. Lesley Kinney
    October 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I lived in US for 15 years. I moved back to UK this summer. I have a Mac laptop that I bought in US. Now I can't watch a lot of UK videos because they think I'm in America and I can't watch a lot of American videos because I'm in England. Help!!!

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I think Hotspot Shield is the US counterpart to Expat Shield, so you could give that a try. Also, Tunnelbear lets you switch from UK/US, so try that!

  8. Finch
    October 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for the tips Angela. I highly recommend . It is a DNS based IP changer so it is so much faster than any VPN. It works with iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Lovefilm, and many more devices.

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Nice tip, thanks. Might take a look at it later.

  9. madfru
    October 1, 2012 at 11:11 am

    tunlr was working great till today when they decided to officially stop their support for netflix (i know this post is about iplayer !!).

    So without netflix, i tunlr is bad business (if business at all!!).

    For a paid solution, you can look at They support iplayer and have a useful tutorial on getting iplayer for users outside UK.

    Check that out!

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Ouch, cutting off Netflix is a big one.

  10. Jimmy
    July 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I`m using to watch some BBC shows from the US. The UK server is the fastest I tried, streaming video on BBC iPlayer works great with it.

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing!

  11. Andrei Anikin
    July 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Expat Shield is really a great thing, works like a charm, thanks!

  12. Scott Hedrick
    July 15, 2012 at 12:06 am

    If I can't watch it legally, I'll find a pirated copy. If I could pay a small fee- say, $25 a year or so- I'd happily do so to watch BBC programs (or should I say programmes). $25 a month, no.

  13. Fahd Abo Hashish
    July 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    what about Hotspot shield.. or it doesn't giva a UK IP?

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      I think Hotspot Shield is basically the US counterpart to Expat Shield. It might be possible to get a UK IP address, but it would be easier to just use Expat Shield.

  14. Angela Alcorn
    July 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I had one negative comment privately about Expat shield, so I'll just add this here:

    Ex-pat shield isn't malware. I can understand a few people being annoyed at some pop-up (or pop-under) ads, but there's nothing more malicious than that in it according to many sources. Here's results of a test that might help verify:

    It also comes well-rated on and

  15. scott
    June 29, 2012 at 1:01 am

    let me clarify. if i used HIDE MY IP to pick a country in the UK to be able to use BBC.

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      If you have a British IP address it should work. Good luck!

  16. Scott
    June 29, 2012 at 12:02 am

    i'm new to all of this, but was wondering if a HIDE YOUR IP program would do the same things?

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      I doubt it for BBC, because you need to be able to prove your IP is in the UK for iPlayer to work.

      For other services in different countries it might work. It will depend on the service, though.

  17. Brad
    June 28, 2012 at 6:07 am

    That's a good list. One thing to keep in mind when using a proxy is that you are probably compromising on your computer's security:

    Yes, a VPN account costs, but it offers encrypted connections, multiple connection options for those places where local government gets busy with imposing restrictions. And it's safe to use, VPN is a business and they want to have more happy customers.

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Yes, this is all well worth remembering. VPNs are a great solution. :)

  18. steve2222
    June 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Expat Shield web site seems to suggest you have to pay for the Elite version to watch BBC - so it is not free as the article suggests

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Sorry, the program itself is free, however the elite access isn't. It's still free to use generally and to view other content as if you're in Britain. However, BBC iPlayer is a particular exception they ask you to pay for in order to pay the bills.

      • Dave
        July 13, 2012 at 5:55 am

        I have been using iplayer on expat shield for ages and have full acces. I have never payed, once expat sheild is switched on I close the browser then open up another browser in safari and have full access to many uk TV from Australia. 4OD, iTV player, Full bbc iplayer and in HD when available. Also live TV but a bit pointless this side of the world ha ha

        • Angela Alcorn
          July 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

          That's a very interesting little hack. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Gary Richmond
    June 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm


    Although this article is primarily about accessing TV with proxies I live in the UK and if I want to view and download BBC content without DRM and keep it indefinitely I use a greta piece of free, open source software called iPlayer. You should find it in the repositories of GNU/Linux distros. I use Ubuntu. It's very easy to use. I wrote a piece about it for Free Software Magazine:

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      That sounds very handy.

  20. John
    June 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    It's worth saying that with some of these services - the BBC iplayer for instance -you can start watching and then revert to your normal internet address - it seems the service just checks you at the start. This not only means that you need little bandwidth but it's also much faster - some of the proxies and vpns are very slow for streaming. By the way I appreciate the legal problems but many people are travelling away from home and have already paid their fees and so on.

    • steve2222
      June 28, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Hi John,

      Which service in particular (VPN, Proxy, DNS) were you using that allowed you to switch back to your normal configuration mid stream?

      Seems like something like Tunir requires you to re-set your DNS and then re-start your computer, so you could not do this mid stream.

      • Angela Alcorn
        June 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm

        It's true. You'd need to re-set your DNS with Tunlr, but on a Mac you can do that without restarting your computer. Maybe you can do that with other operating systems too.

  21. Kevin Vaillant
    June 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Gonna have to give Tunlr a try, thanks for the article.

  22. Chris
    June 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I use an add on called stealthy with firefox. It's funny because I was looking for a way to watch Iplayer when I found out it. It has both a free and Pro version and proxies for several countries so it's use is not limited to Iplayer.

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks for sharing. :D

  23. Jackie
    June 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    What about ITV, will the proxy servers allow that channel, too?

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      It should do if you use a British proxy. If not, Tunlr and TunnelBear definitely do.

  24. Arthur McKenzie
    June 27, 2012 at 5:27 am

    I tried installing the TunnelBear client but I keep getting alerts from my Avast antivirus. Is this VPN it safe to use?

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 27, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Everything I know about Tunnelbear is good. I trust it. Avast is probably just being extra careful. Generally, though, you wouldn't use VPNs and tools like this for your banking or whatever just in case.

  25. Johann
    June 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    ...then send some money to the people in the UK who have to pay a license fee each year to generate this content that you're leaching.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 27, 2012 at 12:45 am

      The programmes are getting made anyway. I'd rather more people got to see them. And I'm a license fee payer :)

    • Angela Alcorn
      June 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

      I could send money to friends in the UK towards their license fee. Or, BBC could just let me pay them directly for access. That'd be better. :D

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