Updated October 2022
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 travelled 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 and live TV.
There are loads of channels too all available live on BBC iPlayer, 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. Political 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 pre-schoolers.
- BBC News – Dedicated channel for News which broadcasts 24 hours a day.
- BBC Parliament – a UK channel dedicated to politics shows all the debates from both Houses of Parliament.
- BBC Alba – Channel for Gaelic speaking people in Scotland.
All of these are available to enjoy live online, plus you can watch them for up to 12 months afterwards from the archive of BBC iPlayer. There’s more of course because the BBC also has loads of radio stations as well as TV shows 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 your 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 the vast majority of satellite or cable channel packages I’ve seen across the world. There’s certainly enough entertainment for all ages just on these TV stations alone. 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 access to watch UK TV abroad and channels like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub ? 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 legitimate attempts to let people watch UK TV abroad through premium settings 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. The same has happened with Channel 4 and Channel Five, plus the subscription channels have overseas options too. Sky Go can be accessed if you’re inside the European Union, however that’s likely to change when the UK officially leaves the EU in 2021.
However, in reality there is quite a simple workaround which will give you access to virtually all blocked TV stations including the BBC. In fact, this option to watch UK TV abroad, is much cheaper and offers loads more channels than any of the official versions. The solution will allow anyone to start watching UK TV on any device they like irrespective of their physical location. What’s more it allows you to watch live TV and the archive on every single UK channel over any reasonable internet connection.
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 its 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.
Any British TV Channel on Any Device
In fact, you’ll look absolutely identical to anyone actually surfing from the United Kingdom. So not only will it mean you’ll be able to watch UK TV abroad, but other sites will also be unlocked too. There’s a whole host of other sites which are only accessible from the UK too – including banking, lots of betting and gambling sites plus many other entertainment portals too. When you’re finished accessing simply disconnect the VPN to return your device to its original configuration. It should be remembered that when you have a UK VPN connected then all your browsing will be ‘UK’ orientated including search engine results. Plus remember that some websites in your actual location may be blocked until you turn off the VPN – I know it sounds crazy!
There were some hopeful signs that the European Union was trying to eliminate these cross-border restrictions and create a single digital marketplace. That still appears to be the case with digital blocks and filters being removed across the EU. However, this is probably not going to help with accessing UK TV abroad now because of the UK leaving the EU in 2021.
Using a VPN is Not Illegal or Dangerous !
Many people worry that using a VPN is something slightly dodgy or even illegal however it couldn’t be further from the truth. VPNs are routinely used by virtually all international companies to protect their laptops and mobile devices. In fact, if you’re using your computer when travelling it’s essential that you use a VPN. Literally millions of people use these programs as a matter of course to ensure their data stays secure.
A 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 UK in Cyprus on holiday, but also an essential security tool especially if you need to check confidential sites like email or you’re 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.
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and start watching UK TV stations like BBC iPlayer ITV abroad.