BBC iPlayer is home to a treasure trove of exclusive content, but if you're outside the UK, you won't be able to watch unless you use a quality BBC iPlayer VPN.
From Peaky Blinders to Killing Eve and Gentleman Jack, there's something for everyone on iPlayer, but in our testing it's essential to pick the best VPN for the job, as not every service can unblock the British streaming site outside the UK.
To get started, just pick from our recommendations below, pop the kettle on, and connect to a UK VPN server to enjoy everything good old Blighty has to offer.
What makes a great iPlayer VPN?
Besides the requisite speedy connections required to stream in HD, your chosen BBC iPlayer VPN should have a good amount of servers in the UK and have a good history of being able to unblock iPlayer (obviously).
A robust support team, ideally with 24/7 live chat will also be very useful – should you discover your iPlayer VPN suddenly can't unblock the site, a quick message may get you back up and running in a matter of moments. It's also worth going for a service that's simple and easy to use, alongside delivering great privacy.
Our top pick ExpressVPN fulfils every one of these criteria, but we've rounded up several more that are worthwhile alternatives. So, all you need to do is keep scrolling to find out how to watch BBC iPlayer anywhere.
- Get to the nitty-gritty – see who wins in ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
- Here's how to watch UK TV abroad
- PC users should get a Windows VPN, and Apple users need a Mac VPN
1. ExpressVPN – excellent security and iPlayer performance
If you need access to iPlayer – whether that's because you're abroad or it's blocked on your network – ExpressVPN is a reliable way of doing so. With tons of UK servers and super intuitive apps, it's never been so easy to unblock content. Plus, you'll now get three months free with a 12-month plan.
2. Surfshark – the best-value iPlayer VPN on the market
For bargain hunters who want to watch Bargain Hunt, Surfshark will be a seriously tempting proposition. At just £1.70/$2.30 a month, it's the most affordable way to reliably unblock iPlayer whether you're in Hull or Hungary.
3. NordVPN – big name is excellent for iPlayer
If you want all-round online protection and the power to watch iPlayer anywhere in the world, NordVPN is also a great choice. With over 5,500 servers worldwide a good selection in the UK, it's fast and reliable, plus it's great value, too.
The best iPlayer VPN today
If you're after our #1 BBC iPlayer VPN, we'd have to recommend ExpressVPN. Not only is it our top-rated VPN overall, but it's perfect for streaming iPlayer thanks to its great selection of servers, blazing speeds and, of course, that fact it can get you access in the first place.
What’s more, ExpressVPN is renowned for its excellent customer service. If something goes wrong while you’re watching iPlayer, you’ll be able to launch a live support chat immediately as agents are available 24/7.
Another ExpressVPN bonus is a diverse set of client apps for devices such as the Fire TV Stick and game consoles. With other VPNs, you could end up spending hours fiddling with your Wi-Fi router to connect these devices – not so here, as you’ll have a dedicated app right in the store, ready to download.
Some of these devices rely on Express’s MediaStreamer tech, which allows you to access blocked content through the use of Smart DNS rather than using VPN servers. This means that you can use ExpressVPN to unblock content on tons of devices like Samsung Tizen TVs that don't support true VPN connections. Be aware, though, that it doesn't provide the security benefits of a real VPN on these devices.
Like pretty much all VPNs, ExpressVPN has had moments where it has been unable to access iPlayer. In our experience, though, these have always been rectified in good time – and that gives us confidence in its iPlayer support in the future.
Get 3 months FREE of the best iPlayer VPN
iPlayer is a world-class streaming service, and ExpressVPN can really provide. Plus, Tom's Guide readers can save by getting three free months of ExpressVPN. That's 15 months for the price of 12 – not bad for the best iPlayer VPN on the market.
Our Surfshark review demonstrates that there’s no need to break the bank in order to access a top-quality iPlayer VPN. As long as you’re willing to sign up for 2 years, Surfshark is easily the best cheap VPN service provider on the market today.
In our most recent testing, Surfshark also delivered a clean sweep of streaming unblocking, accessing not only iPlayer but Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. That's an improvement from our last round of testing, where it struggled with Amazon.
Thankfully, even though it’s affordable, Surfshark doesn't lack any important VPN features. Your browsing data will be secure with thanks to 256-bit AES encryption and protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN and WireGuard – plus the apps are incredibly easy to use no matter what platform you’re on, making iPlayer access super simple.
One of Surfshark’s party pieces is its unlimited connections policy – this is almost unheard of in the industry, and having it combined with such a rock-bottom price offers excellent value. Overall, while it can’t quite compete with the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN in terms of sheer power and configuration, Surfshark is a cheap BBC iPlayer VPN option that doesn’t scrimp on quality – plus you’ll also have 30 days to claim your money back if you don’t love the service.
NordVPN has been a fixture of our best iPlayer VPN list for a long time now thanks to its large UK network and value-adding bonus features. While connected to the web via Nord, you’ll be protected from malware and phishing ads through NordVPN’s CyberSec tech – learn more in our NordVPN review.
Also, you can rest assured that your information will stay private because NordVPN employs powerful encryption and DNS leak protection. And, if you’re still not convinced, thanks to a 30-day money-back guarantee you’ll have the freedom to figure out whether the NordVPN package is right for you.
In previous testing, we've had to install Nord's browser extension to unblock iPlayer – and while that wasn't necessary this time, it's worth keeping in mind in should you go for Team Blue
Overall though, NordVPN is one of the strongest streaming VPN services on the market, and we highly recommend it.
In our testing it had no problem working as an iPlayer VPN, and each timed we tried we were able to watch whatever we wanted on iPlayer when connected to a UK server. Plus, if you subscribe to Netflix or just about any other streaming service, you'll be able to use ProtonVPN with them, too.
One downside to ProtonVPN is the fact that it doesn't support quite as many devices as other providers. If you only stream on your phone or laptop that won't be an issue, but if you're looking for a Fire Stick VPN or a Smart TV VPN, ProtonVPN's lack of dedicated apps and Smart DNS service lets it down slightly.
However, if that's not an issue, we highly recommend ProtonVPN thanks to its privacy and streaming power.
CyberGhost is one of the most popular VPN out there in general, and as an iPlayer VPN, it really impresses. You'll be able to get watching in no time, and its reliably good speeds mean you'll be able to get streaming painlessly.
One feature we really like about CyberGhost is the fact that it groups its VPN servers together, allowing you to choose a server that's tested and reliable for iPlayer or Netflix. While other services like ExpressVPN just seem to work on every server, this is a very useful feature, especially for other more niche streaming sites.
However, while they're powerful, CyberGhost's apps simply lack the polish of the very best providers, and while they're by no means amateurish, there's better on the market.
iPlayer VPN FAQ
How do we test iPlayer VPNs?
To ensure we're giving you up-to-date information on these iPlayer VPN providers, we regularly test them to make sure they're keeping up with the competition. This is our process:
First, we fire up the VPN to be tested, and connect to the automatically selected server in the UK – this best reflects what the majority of users will be doing.
We then head over to iPlayer and attempt to watch its exclusive content. We do this both in private browsing/Incognito mode and on a regular browser, note any differences, and repeat a number of times to check for any discrepancies.
We then note down the results, and update any relevant guides and articles if necessary.
Why doesn't every service work as an iPlayer VPN?
While almost every VPN has the power to relocate you by routing your connection through a server in a different country, relatively few have the power to unblock streaming services.
Most can act as a YouTube VPN, unblocking region-restricted content, thanks to the fact that YouTube has relatively lax VPN usage rules. Essentially, it's pretty easy to get around it.
Other services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are trickier, though. To access Netflix a VPN has to put work into avoiding the blocks and check in place, and Amazon also take into account where your subscription is based/being paid from.
However, in terms of VPN blocking, iPlayer is usually the most difficult to unblock. That's probably because there are no ad and it's free to use in the UK – so there's a lot of reasons why people overseas would want to get access. Thus, only the very best services can get you watching.