If you're in the UK then accessing BBC iPlayer couldn't be more simple, so we're going to assume the fact that it is not and you have landed on this page means you are either a Brit abroad, or perhaps you just want to enjoy the delights of British programming. (And who wouldn't.) But what should be easy suddenly isn't, because iPlayer won't serve you content if you are not signed into a BBC account and browsing the platform via a UK IP address. Thankfully, there is a workaround.
The BBC is fussy about who can watch its programming mostly because it is not actually free, instead paid for through the UK TV Licence. So while you'll be pleased to learn that it is entirely possible to get around its restrictions, it is also against its terms of service. (We'd argue that if you are a UK resident who pays their TV Licence fee then you're not out of line on moral grounds, but our opinion is neither here nor there.)
As always, where there is a will there is a way, and no matter where you are in the world you can stream high-quality TV and radio shows such Doctor Who and His Dark Materials from BBC iPlayer. The process is much the same as if you were to watch American Netflix or Hulu from outside the US.
Below we've outlined exactly how to access the streaming service from outside the UK, but do note that following Brexit the process could become more complicated. The EU has confirmed that Brits will no longer be able to watch iPlayer or Netflix while travelling in the EU, given that the rules that allow them to 'carry their copyright' with them no longer apply. You're probably going to be able to get around that with a VPN, as we outline below, but until it happens we cannot know for sure.
It's not important to know the ins and outs of how it all works, only that a VPN (or virtual private network) conceals your true location from a website and makes it appear that you are somewhere else. So if you're in the US a VPN can fool iPlayer into thinking you are actually in the UK.
Use a VPN
The easiest way to watch BBC iPlayer abroad is to use a VPN.
VPNs (virtual private networks) are used for many purposes, as they allow you to surf the internet with anonymously and protect your privacy. They can also be used to virtually relocate your computer or mobile device by offering access to an IP address from the region you require. This is where they can come in handy for watching BBC iPlayer and other UK TV abroad.
Once you've got your chosen VPN service up and running, you'll need to set it to connect to a UK server and go to the BBC iPlayer webpage to start watching.
Here are more recommendations for VPN providers with UK servers.
Change DNS settings to watch on Xbox or PS4
If you want to get UK TV via the browser on your Xbox or PlayStation then you will need to fiddle with some DNS settings. If you head to the network settings of the console/device and manually configure the settings then you can enter a primary and secondary DNS (Domain Name Servers) numbers.
You can search the internet for these (they change fairly regularly) and DroidKid has a good list which you can try. They are free but easily get clogged up and slow, and occasionally send you to someone's own site rather than your desired TV source in an attempt to sell you VPN software or something worse.
If you want to watch iPlayer from abroad via a game console you might be better off simply installing a VPN directly to your router, which will let you connect your console through the VPN without any of the above concerns.
BBC iPlayer accounts and the UK TV Licence
The BBC requires that anyone using iPlayer is a UK TV Licence holder - to find out for sure if that affects you, check our guide to who needs a TV Licence.
It's also required that iPlayer users sign in with a free BBC account, which requires a UK postcode. You'll need an account if you want to watch or listen to iPlayer through the website or mobile apps, though for now the account remains optional for iPlayer's Smart TV and game console apps.
You can register for an account for free, but you'll need to give your date of birth, gender, and email address, along with a valid UK postcode, and the BBC says that it will use the information to better understand its audience and improve its recommendations to users.
The BBC says that the aim of the account isn't to pursue iPlayer users who haven't paid for a TV Licence, but admitted that it will cross-reference the email addresses with people who've previously claimed not to need a Licence.
If you're a British resident with a paid-up Licence Fee, the new account won't change your ability to watch iPlayer abroad - simply sign into your account, and continue to use either a VPN or altered DNS settings as described above.
The only change will be if you don't have a Licence because you live abroad or just haven't paid for one, and are hoping to access iPlayer anyway, as you'll need to give a valid UK postcode and your details to get access.