It was a couple of years ago I think when the BBC actually lifted the restrictions on a Dr Who Special for Christmas. That meant, wherever you logged in you could watch the show live and didn’t get blocked. Of course this is the exception, normally watching live and using BBC iPlayer is normally blocked abroad. It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you pay a TV license or not – the vast majority of online BBC is blocked if you’re not physically in the UK.
So how can you watch the Dr Who special or indeed any of the UK Television sites online, when based outside the UK? Well there’s a few methods – some involve specialized hardware and streaming from a specific server but most involve simply hiding your location from the BBC web site. This is because all these media sites determine your location in the same way – by checking where your IP address is registered. So if you’re connecting from a wifi connection in an Italian cafe or a US airport, your IP address will reflect this.
You cannot change this, if you’re in the US then you’ll be assigned a US IP address, in Germany a German address and so on. What you can do is relay your connection through another server before you connect to the BBC site. These intermediate servers are called proxies or VPNs and literally hundreds of thousands of people across the world use them to access sites that would normally be blocked due to your location. Some people use them to access US media sites like Hulu, HBO and Pandora, or the BBC or ITV from outside the UK. Others use proxies to bypass restrictions instigated by governments, places like China, turkey and Thailand heavily filter internet access through state controlled telecom companies.
IT’s sounds geeky, it sounds difficult but in fact it can be extremely easy to access anything online, wherever you happen to be. This video is a demonstration of just how simple it actually is to use a BBC iPlayer proxy –
That’s it, click a country – UK for British TV, US for American stuff, Canada for Canadian TV or any one of a dozen or so different locations. When you’ve finish simply disconnect and your browsing is back to normal, in fact with the BBC iPlayer you can actually disconnect after the programme has started streaming as the location check only happens at the very beginning.
The software illustrated is called Identity Cloaker and is featured here after trying out loads of similar services. Like all the services it is subscription based, there are free proxies available but they’re extremely slow and unstable – it can take hours to find one that works properly just to watch a single show. It doesn’t cost much though and you know you get a reliable, secure and super fast connection from whatever country you need at a click of the button.
You can also set it up on your Smart Phone or tablet – just see this post. As always – it’s best to try the short trial first to see how it works for you – . . This is enough to take in all the UK Christmas shows and of course you can watch the Dr Who Christmas Special!