Updated in August 2020, using NordVPN as previous VPN has stopped working with the BBC iPlayer.
If you enjoy science documentaries then there’s one series that you don’t want to miss – The Planets which aired on the BBC earlier this year. It’s presented by Professor Brian Cox who explores the history of the eight planets which make up our solar system.
Here’s the introduction from the review from the Guardian’s TV section which I think sums up the show well. Even if astronomy is not a particular interest I can assure you’ll be blown away by some of the cinematic sequences.
Towards the end of the opening episode of The Planets (BBC Two), the new solar system opus presented by Prof Brian Cox, I found myself questioning whether this was feelgood, or feelbad, television. Cox has already made headlines with his suggestion that the future of humanity may lie in stretching our living quarters from Earth to Mars, which, I suppose, is a feelgood idea, if adventures and Matt Damon are high on your particular list. The wonder of Cox’s arguments, which take in the staggering, incomprehensible vastness of time and space, provides the kind of television that made this particular viewer stop and say “whoa” every few seconds.
And there is extreme joy, indeed, to be found in the miraculousness of life existing on Earth at all. When Cox dangles his hand in a rock pool on a volcano in the middle of the ocean, he marvels at all the chance events that took place over billions of years to produce these tiny creatures. Whoa, I thought, being due for another “whoa”.
“But it can’t last,” he continues, switching gear to a tone that speaks blithely of apocalypse and destruction. “Earth will, ultimately, follow the fate of the other rocky planets.” The sun, he informs us, ages relentlessly, and will engulf the planets closest to it during its red giant phase. Earth and Mars may escape, if luck so dictates, but really, the future is only bright in that it will be fried into inhospitality.
What The Planets also does is to tell science as a story, and what’s more it’s one of the most incredible stories of all time. believe me you want to see this programme and make you kids watch it too! Even the trailer is stunning especially on a HD TV, here it is.
There’s only six shows at the moment but they’re all about an hour long, and remember there’s no advertising breaks at all. The series covers eight planets in our solar system and is introduced and narrated by Brian Cox. Each show attempts to cover the whole life of the planet, from their initial creation to the present day.
The show was aired earlier in the year but thanks to the BBC iPlayer’s new archive policy you can still see it today. In fact the show is due to be removed from the archive sometime around June 2020. So you’ve got no excuse to miss it!
If you’re outside the UK and think you can’t access the BBC iPlayer – keep reading.
The Planets BBC 2019 Watch Online – a Quick Guide to Accessing
For many years now expats, anglophiles, travellers and just British TV lovers have been quietly bypassing the UK only restrictions on the BBC iPlayer website. Indeed estimates suggest that many millions of people regularly enjoy watching the BBC programmes online from all over the world. It’s hardly surprising that people make such an effort as the iPlayer and it’s archive contains literally thousands of the best of the BBC. Indeed it’s so extensive, I know many people who don’t actually watch anything else at all.
The Planets broadcast in 2019 is just one small example, you can watch all the BBC’s most popular 12 channels live on air. You can also listen to the many radio stations, plus access the majority in the archive for up to twelve months after. It’s easily better than many expensive cable subscriptions I’ve paid for in various countries and it’s absolutely free. Unfortunately anyone outside the UK needs to take a small step in order to access the site and all it’s media.
But Doesn’t BBC blocks access to all outside the United Kingdom ?
Indeed it does, but there’s obviously a workaround that these millions use to watch without restriction. It’s called a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and is a small program which allows anyone to hide their real location. By using a VPN service you can route your connection through a server in the UK which makes you look like you’re in the United Kingdom too.
It sounds geeky and technical but it’s not, in fact for the user it’s no more difficult than clicking on the UK on a little map. Here’s the one we suggest in action –
As you can see it’s no more difficult than clicking on an icon, and what’s more this particular program has versions for all sorts of devices. So you can install it on your phone, tablet and computer and watch on whatever platform you prefer, irrespective of course where you’re located.
There are many of the VPN services about, however you have to be careful with them if you want to access the BBC. The corporation do try and block these VPN connections, so if they’re not set up properly or are detected they won’t work. The company we use have literally hundreds of available network addresses in the UK so you can be sure that you can access the BBC with ease. If you do ever find yourself blocked simply pick another server off the list and you should be fine.
For the longer subscriptions the cost is very low, it’s currently only a few dollars a month for access to it’s complete network. Don’t worry that it doesn’t mention TV shows on the site, this is deliberate to prevent blocks. You can get any help you need watching TV shows from support, including enjoying the Planets on the BBC. Although it’s very easy to do yourself – just install then click on the right country (UK) and all should be fine.
Try it out first, you have 30 days to get your money back if it doesn’t work well for you. Remember to switch servers and find the fastest one for you, then save your favorite ones and you click from the list next time. You can also enjoy all the other UK TV channels free too, try ITV Hub for some great shows like Downton Abbey !