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 abroad 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 trial 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 -20/11/2013

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{ 10 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. 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.


    • 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.)

  2. 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

    • 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, 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 although
    I haven’t tried it for a while.

    Hope that helps !

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



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