How to Use a BBC Iplayer Proxy Abroad

You may have noticed that many of the big web sites have decided that they are not too keen on this big, free, sharing model of the internet.  Not so long ago you could log in to a machine anywhere in the world and surf around with impunity – but not any longer. The businesses involved have decided they prefer a sort of restrictive model that also makes them lots of cash. So now people get filtered based on their location  – for example forget watching BBC Iplayer proxy in the US or Japan for free, it’s not going to happen (well not without some sneakiness of course). Yep and the loveable BBC have decided against the public spirited World Service model of sending out their content for free, instead they restrict it just to people in the UK.

This is especially annoying for the people like me who already pay the license fee but can’t watch the BBC when they’re out of the country. But don’t worry here’s a way which will allow you to access anything you like including the BBC, Hulu irrespective of your location.  It doesn’t matter where you’re based, you can choose.  The solution works in most scenarios so for an example – here’s how to use a proxy to access BBC Iplayer outside the UK.

BBC Iplayer Proxy Workaround.

Firing up BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’ll pretty soon try and watch something and be greeted with the following message.

How to Watch BBC IPlayer by Proxy

Ha Ha No IPlayer for You

It looks like some technical wizardry of the highest order, but fortunately for us it’s not.  When we connect to BBC Iplayer, the site records your IP address and looks up which country it’s registered in – if it’s a UK address the show will start playing otherwise you get the above platitude. Now for these illustrations I’m going to use my subscription to Identity Cloaker, you can theoretically use free UK proxies for this though. Unfortunately finding any free proxies capable of streaming video is a full time occupation but if you try it – good luck !!

Choosing a UK Proxy for IPlayer

Choose a UK Proxy for IPlayer

I just open Identity Cloaker and scroll down to select one of the UK proxies and that’s it.  From this point even though I’m connecting through the Wifi at an overpriced Spanish hotel in Barcelona – it doesn’t matter.  The BBC will think I’m in the UK as it looks at the IP address of the proxy server and not mine. So using a BBC Iplayer proxy works incredibly well, here’s what I see now.

BBC Iplayer in Spain

Latest Dr Who from BBC Iplayer

Here’s a video of the process …that I hope explains it.

Instead of the warning when watching BBC Player using a proxy I get the play button and can watch whatever I want.  In fact the IP check is at start of the show so if I need to I can just disconnect from the proxy using Identity Cloaker software and stream it directly through my Spanish connection. Is it enough to cheer me up after just having my wallet stolen in a Barcelona bar?

Well probably not but being a fanatical Dr Who fan it might just save me from an evening spent drowning my sorrows drinking overpriced San Miguel from the Minibar.

(Note to all visiting Barcelona  – if some nice couple seem overly concerned about marks you have on the back of your jacket and offer to help you.  Then punch them/call police – you are having your wallet stolen – yes I did fall for it!) 

Just for the record – you can use a free proxy for this, the reason a legendary skinflint like me doesn’t is simple.  It generally takes several hours of searching to find a fast enough UK proxy to stream from the BBC Iplayer site.  That actually wouldn’t be too bad if you only had to do it once but the  next day it will almost certainly have disappeared.  For a one off it might be worth it though.

Here’s the link for Identity Cloaker – I can recommend the 10 day . if you’re just away on a trip or holiday, or just to see if it works.  There are loads of other services who offer something similar though, but this is simply the one I found to be fastest and best value.

If you want to watch using an Ipad – try this post about watching BBC Iplayer on the Ipad Abroad. Updated -20/07/2015

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36 Responses

  1. Olivia says:

    Will this work ok to watch the Olympics coverage on the BBC ok? I can watch it on local TV but the coverage is pretty hopeless.

    • says:

      Hi Olivia, sorry for late reply – I missed your question. Yes it works perfectly – install the software on your computer/PC/laptop to watch it there. Look inside the members area for details on how to use it on a phone/tablet or just drop them an email, they’re nice guys they will help you. The BBC coverage is on live through the website plus recorded highlights plus lots on the iPlayer if you missed anything usually up for about 30 days. Just connect to a UK server before you try and access.

  2. Henning says:

    I’m in Germany, could I use this to watch the BBC and US Netflix too ?

    • says:

      Sure, Identity Cloaker has just had an upgrade and is now one of the only VPN programs which still works with US Netflix. You can use any of the servers with the subscription – just pick a US one for Netflix and a UK one for the BBC.

  3. Indiana says:

    I heard that the BBC were clamping down on this and were blocking VPNs and stuff. Does this work anymore?

    • says:

      The BBC have indeed become a little more aggressive in blocking these methods. Basic proxies no longer work at all, you have to use an advanced SSH/VPN client like Identity Cloaker. They were blocking some of the IP addresses of the VPN clients but only one (out of 70 odd) of Identity Cloaker’s were blocked a couple of months ago – the rest are fine. Don’t know if they’ll restart this purge but the BBC don’t normally just block a few and forget about it !

      There were would have been big changes if we’d stayed in the EU as they were going to enforce the right of the license fee holders to access the BBC from anywhere in Europe but I guess that won’t happen now.

  4. Frank says:

    Thanks for this. You mentioned that I can also set this up on my tablet too – does that need a separate account?

    • says:

      Hi Frank, No just one account, you just use it in slightly different ways. Use the software on a laptop or PC then set up the VPNs manually (as per link) on any other device. It’s quite straight forward setting up a VPN for the BBC and you only have to do it once.

  5. Gregg says:

    i heard that the BBC and other services will be blocking VPNs – is this true and will this still work ???

    • says:

      Hi, It is true that BBC have become a bit more aggressive in blocking VPNs and proxies this year. However the reality is that there is currently only one practical way to identify/block VPNs and that’s by individually blocking each IP address. This is very time consuming and subject to errors in detecting the active VPNs, some of the biggest services do get blocked however they usually can switch their services to different IP addresses in a matter of hours.
      Identity Cloaker is deliberately low key and is a security service so rarely gets spotted – I’ve used it for 8 years without issue. Apparently they had one IP address blocked (out of several hundreds) a few weeks ago but it was simply swapped out.

  6. dino says:

    I would like to use this proxy to watch live TV as opposed to BBC iPlayer would it work?

    • says:

      Yes, if you connect to a UK server before visiting the BBC web site you’ll get the UK version of the web site. This has the links to watching live TV on all the BBC shows as opposed to the international version which just has adverts. Works for all the other UK stations too.

  7. tanya says:

    My internet connection is pretty slow (<4mb), will using this BBC iplayer proxy slow it down at all? It's just about ok for streaming video but if it went any slower would be quite difficult to watch.

    • says:

      Hi,

      I would be very surprised if it slowed down your connection, in fact because of the way Identity Cloaker uses compression – it might actually speed it up a bit. My connection is around 40mbs (sorry) and it doesn’t impact that at all. However it’s best to check first – try the trial first to see how it works for you. Remember if you’re using the proxy for the BBC then you can actually disconnect with Identity Cloaker after the programme has started (it only checks at the beginning of the stream).

  8. josh hamster says:

    There’s loads of these VPN services about now, why do you use this one? Are the others any good?

    • says:

      Josh, they are few others that are fine but most of them are overloaded and fall over all the time. I use Identity Cloaker primarily for two reasons – it’s very fast, you can also tweak the speed within the settings if you like and it has lots of different countries included. There are some cheaper ones but they are always very slow and infuriating to use, I’ve tried hundreds over the years. I’m also a bit paranoid so I need a really secure service for travelling – Identity Cloaker is primarily a security service.

  9. Polly says:

    Ok so I an use this to watch the BBC iPLayer on my laptop, does it work with all the other UK channels – ITV, Channel 4, Sky etc?

    Thx
    P

    • says:

      Yes it works with all UK channels if you select a UK proxy. You’ll obviously need a subscription for Sky Go though.

  10. Freddy says:

    Will using one of the US servers allow me to get access to US Netflix ?

    • says:

      Yes, as long as you have a Netflix subscription. Just connect to a country before you access Netflix and you’ll get that version. The US one is probably best, but there’s some good stuff on the UK, Canadian and Australian Netflix versions too.

  11. Steve Mags says:

    This works great for me, I’ve been catching up with all my UK TV – it’s great being able to watch the BBC News 🙂 I’ve been using it a lot, is there some sort of bandwidth cap, I’m just on the trial at the moment.

    • says:

      Glad it’s working well for you Steve. No there’s no official cap or limit, think they mention something about ‘reasonable use’ on the site somewhere. I’ve never been capped though over the years I’ve used it and sometimes have my whole family using it to proxy BBC on different devices as we don’t seem to be able to watch in the same room for some reason !!!

  12. herbie says:

    So will this work with something like Now TV? I live in Greece now and would like to watch it on my laptop.

  13. Aundrea says:

    Is there any way to get this working on other devices? Like for example on tablets and smart phones, I presume the software won’t work on them?

  14. Tanya Crimes says:

    Can I ask to what extent this is going to slow my connection down? I just want to access BBC iPlayer not interested in anything else tbh.

    thx
    Tanya

    • theninja says:

      Hi Tanya,
      It’s highly unlikely it will slow your connection down to any extent, there are lots of super fast servers located in various locations in the UK (for accessing BBC). You may have to try a couple to pick the fastest server relative to your position. In fact with the compression algorithm used in the latest version, it may actually speed your connection up slightly.

      But remember when watching iPlayer using Identity Cloaker you can actually disconnect it after it starts streaming. This will allow you to stream directly to your computer, you would need to reconnect if you switched to a different programme though (the web site checks at the beginning.)

  15. John says:

    Hi,
    I’m going to work abroad for a few weeks and was going to get Identity Cloaker so I could watch BBC iplayer and ITV player. Does it matter where I buy it from? I mean should I wait and buy it when I’m away or doesn’t it matter.

    sorry if stupid question, just a bit confused.

    thanks, John

    • theninja says:

      Hi John,

      It doesn’t really matter, although it makes sense to wait until you need it.

      If you want to try it out in UK before you go, just select something that would normally be blocked in the UK – like Hulu.com, then select a US server to connect through. Or try a Canadian, Australian or US channel – it works the same for all just pick the country you need.

      The software and the servers are exactly the same whatever country you are in when you buy it.

      Hope that helps

  16. theninja says:

    Sandra,
    It is rather sneaky but until companies change their business model it’s something I am going to use. The security side is important, especially for travellers checking their emails, bank accounts etc from unsecured internet connections across the world.

    Thanks for the comment 🙂 makes me glad I’m not talking to myself all the time !

    the ninja

  17. Sandra says:

    This is a rather sneaky way to get around something isn’t it, I have never heard of Identity cloaker but now that I have I am sure it will come in very handy, there are times I don’t want people I am messaging to know where I am either and this will also prevent that won’t it? From now on I would bet you put your wallet in your front pocket when traveling.

  18. John says:

    I was thinking about getting an Ipad and now that I have read this and know that I will still be able to watch the things I want to watch it is just about a done deal for me. Thank you for posting this I am scouring the internet all the time for new advice and tips like this maybe reviews etc. thank you for doing your part and posting this.

  19. Thomas says:

    This was very interesting and I am looking forward to doing some more research on this. The videos that you included in your post were put together very well and they were informative as well. Thank you for putting all of this together because I don’t think that there is another informative site out there that explains it better.

  20. theninja says:

    Hi Henry,

    Yes it works with all the UK TV channels including SKY Player if you have a subscription.
    The only British one it wouldn’t work with is tvcatchup.com although
    I haven’t tried it for a while.

    Hope that helps !

  21. Henryhiggins says:

    Can I ask will this work with the ITV and Channel 4 sites as well?

    Thanks

    HH

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