How to Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN or UK Proxy

Gavin Phillips Updated 03-04-2019

These days, watching TV on your computer is a cinch. It is so easy that many people eschew a regular TV altogether and exclusively use online services. Sadly, geo-restrictions limit some of the best content to certain countries.


BBC iPlayer is one such service. The BBC’s video streaming service is only available to viewers in the UK. Attempting to access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK displays an error message. However, there are ways to circumvent these location-based restrictions.

Here’s how you can watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN or UK proxy.

1. Watch BBC iPlayer Using a VPN

Your first option is using a virtual private network (VPN). You can use a VPN to make your web traffic appear as if it originates in the UK. Thus, when you attempt to access BBC iPlayer from another country, the service will show the content.

The BBC is no stranger to VPNs. At times, some VPNs struggle to maintain their connections to BBC iPlayer as the BBC blacklists known VPN server addresses. However, all is not lost; there are several excellent VPN providers that keep ahead of the blacklisting.


Are you new to the idea of VPNs? Then first read our explanation of what a VPN is and how a VPN works.

There are three VPN providers you should check out:

In our experience, these three VPNs consistently allow you access to the BBC iPlayer streaming service from another country. While traveling, I use ExpressVPN to make sure I don’t miss my favorite programs. You can grab a special MakeUseOf discount on an ExpressVPN subscription using this link!

Once you subscribe to a VPN provider, download and install the VPN software. Open the VPN software, input your user credentials, and then select a UK-based VPN server. After the connection establishes, you can watch BBC iPlayer.


2. Watch BBC iPlayer Using a Browser Extension

bbc iplayer geo restriction

Unfortunately, the number of free UK proxy services able to access BBC iPlayer has fallen dramatically since the BBC stepped up enforcement against known proxy servers. It is a similar situation to the VPN services above, and the Tor exit nodes in the section below.

The BBC actively monitors known proxy server addresses for incoming data, and as such, it makes using a free UK proxy to watch BBC iPlayer incredibly difficult. Difficult, but not impossible.


One of the best proxy options at the time of writing is a Chrome extension called Beebs. Beebs is a simple proxy extension for Google Chrome that allows you to access BBC iPlayer, as well as ITV Player and 4oD (two other UK broadcast channels with similar geo-restrictions). You will achieve the best results using Beebs with a single browser window open.


Download: Beebs for Google Chrome (Free)


Another handy UK proxy option is Wachee. Wachee is also a Google Chrome browser extension that allows you to watch BBC iPlayer. Furthermore, Wachee enables you to view Netflix and Hulu, depending on your country of origin.

Download: Wachee for Google Chrome (Free)

3. Set Your Browser to Use a UK Proxy Server

Of course, you don’t have to rely on a browser extension. You can tell your browser to use a UK proxy server at all times. Sending all of your traffic through a UK proxy will allow you to watch BBC iPlayer. But if you are in a different country, any services and apps that rely on your location will cease to work.


That’s where a proxy switcher comes into play. With a proxy switcher installed, you can load up several different proxy servers to cycle through until you find one that works. After you finish watching your BBC iPlayer program, turn the proxy switcher off, and your settings return to normal.

Download: Proxy Switcher and Manager for Google Chrome (Free) | Opera (Free)
Download: FoxyProxy Standard for Mozilla Firefox (Free)

Then head to Xroxy and check out their massive list of UK proxy servers. You can copy and paste the details of the proxies into your proxy switcher of choice, then access BBC iPlayer.

4. Use a UK Tor Exit Node to Watch BBC iPlayer

As you can see above, the availability of free UK proxy services to watch BBC iPlayer is low. There is an alternative to a UK proxy server, though. You can attempt to use the Tor browser and the Tor network to access BBC iPlayer.

Please note that connections through Tor are slow. It isn’t like the regular internet, and as such, there is a strong chance you will struggle to watch a live stream. See other ways to unblock live TV streams while traveling How to Unblock Live TV Streaming When You're Abroad While we can all understand why TV channels are blocked abroad, it's still frustrating. Thankfully, it's easy to unblock streaming services... Read More for better methods.

Tor works by bouncing your data through different nodes around the globe. The process makes your data untraceable. If someone were to trace your data, they would find the IP address of the Tor network exit node, not your originating IP address. An exit node is where Tor network data re-joins the regular internet.

Here’s our unofficial guide to Tor Really Private Browsing: An Unofficial User’s Guide to Tor Tor provides truly anonymous and untraceable browsing and messaging, as well as access to the so called “Deep Web”. Tor can’t plausibly be broken by any organization on the planet. Read More . Read through it and set your Tor browser up.

Most of the time, you should leave your Tor settings well alone. A poorly configured Tor browser can expose your data. However, you can specify the exit node country. In this case, changing it to the UK (or, GB, as you will see) gives you a chance of watching BBC iPlayer.

After you first open and configure the Tor browser, it creates the “torrc” file. The torrc file contains configuration information, and you find it in the Tor installation folder. For instance, my torrc file is found at: “C:\Users\Gavin\Tor Browser\Browser\TorBrowser\Data\Tor.” You can edit the torrc file using a text editor, like Notepad or Notepad++. Right-click the torrc file and select Open with > Notepad. (Or your text editor of choice; I’m using Notepad++, but the process is the same.)

Now, you need to add the following lines to the torrc file:

  • EntryNodes {your country code} StrictNodes 1
  • ExitNodes {gb},{uk} StrictNodes 1

tor torrc exit node configuration

You can find your country entry code using the Tor country codes list.

Save the file, overwriting the existing file. When you open Tor, your exit node preferences will update, and you should be able to access BBC iPlayer.

Yes, You Can Watch BBC iPlayer in the US!

As you can see, you can watch the fantastic range of programming from the BBC from wherever you are in the world, including the US.

The BBC is making it increasingly difficult to watch iPlayer, with geo-restrictions, limitations on programming, and known proxy and VPN server blocks standing in your way. However, by using one of the methods outlined above you will be able to unlock BBC iPlayer.

It isn’t just BBC iPlayer that comes loaded with geo-restrictions, mind. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and a heap of other video-on-demand services struggle with geo-licensing restrictions. In all honesty, a VPN is the best option to skirt those restrictions.

With that in mind, here is our guide to the best VPN services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More to get you started.

Related topics: BBC, Location Data, Media Streaming, Online Video, Proxy, Television, VPN.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. M
    December 5, 2019 at 11:07 am

    shame the "free" actually means you have to pay .. Clearly im using s different version of English ..

  2. Neil
    November 20, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    Many thanks for this. I've been using Hide IP Speed for years, but recently it's got creakier than the door of Frankenstein's castle and now the UK proxies either don't work or are recognised and blocked by the BBC. I followed your Express VPN recommendation and so far am very impressed. I hope it lasts...

  3. Soroush
    April 24, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Using Wachee from US for a few months. Good speed

  4. CL Anon
    June 24, 2018 at 1:21 am

    This page is sadly out of date. BBC does not sell bundles of Dr Who. Tunlr is long gone. In the past BBC iplayer could be tricked by using a VPN, that doesn't work now.

  5. Ian Wright
    January 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    It works on PureVPN for me here in US. Watching Sherlock Season 4 as it streams. :p

  6. Anonymous
    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. https://tunlr.com/ . It is a great service to get US Netflix content and other services. It is also very easy to setup.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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 [broken link removed] Service Provider of the industry

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

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

    Thanks for the tips Angela. I highly recommend UnoTelly.com . 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.

  14. 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 unotelly.com. 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.

  15. Angela Alcorn
    July 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

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

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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 Cnet.com and softpedia.com.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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: [Broken Link Removed]

    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. :)

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

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

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

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

      • Edward
        May 30, 2018 at 8:51 am

        Just downloaded Tunnelbear here in Switzerland and BBC iplayer is still not allowing access saying you have to be in UK etc. Tunnelbear shows it is connected via UK. Any thoughts ?

  30. 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