Let’s face it, there are many things wrong with the United Kingdom at the moment but our television is not one of them. Although people still moan about the license fee and alleged political bias (from all sides) of the BBC – if you’ve traveled a lot it’s hard to find an English speaking channel that comes close. The BBC is packed full of excellent dramas, comedies, documentaries and of course there’s lots of news and political commentary. There are loads of channels too, here’s a selection of the ones I can remember:
- BBC One – Main channel full of news, current affairs, comedy, drama and assorted entertainment.
- BBC Two – More factual programmes covering art, history, science and human interest. Policital programmes like the wonderful Newsnight.
- BBC Three – Younger channel, lots of pilots and new ideas aimed at slightly younger audience.
- BBC Four – Wide range of innovative programmes, cultural and documentaries. More in depth approach to subjects.
- CBBC – Channel for 6-12 years old. Some great educational shows, save your kids from YouTube!
- CBeebies – Channel for preschoolers.
- BBC News – Dedicated channel for News which broadcasts 24 hours a day.
- BBC Parliament – a UK channel dedicated to politicis shows all the debates from both Houses of Parliament.
- BBC Alba – Channel for Gaelic speaking people in Scotland.
All of these are available to watch live online, plus you can watch them for up to 3 months afterwards from the archive of BBC iPlayer. There’s more of course because the BBC also has loads of radio stations too including dozens of local channels. You can also access them online too if you’re unable to pick up the broadcasts on your radio. For many of us local radio is a great way to stay in touch with our local area when travelling. It’s also a great way to follow you local football team if they happen to play outside the Premiership, my home team is in the conference but the BBC still have commentary of every single match live. Of course, if you like Cricket it also gives you access to the wonderful Test Match Special which is broadcast on Radio 5 Live now.
All this is arguably better than many satellite or cable channel packages I’ve seen across the world. There’s certainly enough entertainment for all ages just on these TV stations. Plus of course, these come without any commercial interruptions at all, so you can sit and watch a two hour film on BBC without ever being sold anything! What’s more all the other UK TV channels are not far behind in quality and choice – there’s ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. All these broadcast the majority of their content online too, so you can watch live or use one of the catch up services.
Of course this is great if you’re actually in the United Kingdom but unfortunately none of these are accessible from outside the country. Any connection that originates from outside the United Kingdom is blocked from watching the channels live or to stream them from the archive. So can you get BBC iplayer abroad ? Well fortunately there is a way which we will demonstrate in the next section.
How to Watch UK TV Online Overseas
There have been a few attempts to let people watch these channels from anywhere in the world but without much success. ITV launched an international version a few years ago called ‘essentials’ where you could pay a subscription fee to watch from outside the UK but it never really took off. However in reality there is quite a simple workaround which will give you access to virtually all blocked TV stations including the BBC.
To understand how you can bypass the normal blocks it’s useful to understand how all these channels block overseas visitors. It’s actually quite simple when you access many of these websites they quickly check out your IP address. By cross referencing it’s location they can determine your location fairly accurately. So if you’re connecting from Paris you’ll have a French IP address, Spain – a Spanish address and so on. There’s not much you can do about this, as it’s not really possible to change the location of your IP address directly (without owning an Internet Service Provider!)
But there is a solution and it’s not that difficult, here’s a quick video demonstrating:
As you can see although you cannot change your IP address you can hide your real one. So by using something called a VPN you can hide your real location, the web site will only see the address of the server. So as long as the VPN server is in the UK then all the UK TV sites like the BBC will work perfectly.
What’s more the VPN will also provide you with increased privacy and security plus the ability to unlock thousands of other sites all over the world. Remember the VPN is not only a way to watch TV on holiday , it’s an essential security tool especially if you need to check confidential sites like email or your banking from unknown Wifi access points.
Over the years we’ve looked at loads of VPN services and many have disappeared or stopped working properly with the main UK TV channels. This is because the broadcasting companies often try and detect and block the IP addresses of the VPN servers. There have been a few services which have worked consistently with the BBC and all the UK TV stations online over the last few years. The key factors to look for are obviously doesn’t get blocked, fast, stable connection, a large number of UK servers and of course a reasonable price.
In our experience there is one VPN which works much better than all the others. The reason is that it’s run by a team of high skilled IT experts, who make sure the servers are configured securely and are never overloaded. You may not have come across it, as they don’t advertise widely and keep a low profile to avoid being flagged by the media companies. So if you want to watch UK TV online overseas then it’s definitely worth a try.
Try out the ten day trial first to see for your self.