No, you’re not dreaming. This anthology series from Amazon and the BBC comprises five feature-length films from acclaimed director Steve McQueen: the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA-winning director of 12 Years a Slave. And UK viewers can watch them all completely FREE on the BBC. Want to know how? Settle in as we detail how to watch Small Axe online from anywhere.
Each individual tale brings to light a recent chapter in the history of London’s West Indian community, largely focusing on real-life events that took place between 1968 and 1985. Co-written by McQueen, Alastair Siddons, and Courttia Newland, they alternately convey the oppressive reality of systemic racism, the joy of community, and the hope gained by hard-won victories in the fight for equality.
Watch Small Axe from every Sunday, November 15 at 9pm GMT on BBC One in the UK. Alternatively, you can stream the series online via BBC iPlayer live or on-demand as new instalments become available - meaning it's 100% free to watch Small Axe (with a valid TV licence, of course). In the US, Amazon Prime Video will be adding a feature-length episode beginning from Friday, November 20. It’s $12.99 for a monthly subscription - and you can access your preferred streaming service from anywhere with the help of a VPN
First instalment ‘Mangrove’ centers on 1970s Notting Hill, where the Caribbean restaurant of Frank Crichlow (played by Shaun Parkes) is repeatedly raided by police without justification. When the local community protest, including leader of the British Black Panther Movement Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Black Mirror actress Letitia Wright), their wrongful arrest leads to a historic, high-profile trial.
Following this is ‘Lovers Rock’, a beatific account of a reggae house party in 1980s London, and ‘Red, White, and Blue’, a biopic about police constable Leroy Logan that stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) in a career-defining role. ‘Alex Wheatle’ depicts the titular writer's early years and the lead up to the 1981 Brixton Uprising, while ‘Education’ is another true story about a 12-year old boy erroneously classified as "special needs’"
That’s an incredible amount of excellent drama, stuffed with talented actors and inspiring stories –and the BBC are bringing them to UK audiences for free! Just keep reading, and we’ll detail how to watch Small Axe online for free and from anywhere today .
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How to watch Small Axe online from outside your country
Currently abroad for work or taking a well-deserved vacation? Unfortunately, geo-blocks caused by regional licensing laws will ruin your chances of watching Small Axe live or on-demand through BBC iPlayer, or Amazon if you’re usually based in America.
However, by downloading a VPN you can effortlessly circumvent these regional restrictions. A VPN – short for Virtual Private Network – can alter your IP address to that of your country back home, allowing you to access film and TV content that would be otherwise be inaccessible.
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Once installed, just pick the location of your home country, and click connect! You’ll then be free to watch the Steve McQueen’s essential new anthology of films online, and stream Small Axe from world.
How to watch Small Axe online FREE in the UK
Yes, you heard correctly. Five films from award-winning director Steve McQueen are being made available for FREE to British audiences. Finally, 2020 has turned a corner! Brits with a cable or satellite subscription, or a Freeview box, can enjoy these awesome and socially-important films on BBC One from November 15 at 9pm, with a new instalment dropping at the same time every week.
If you’ve cut the cord? Don’t worry. You can watch Small Axe online live through BBC iPlayer. Each instalment will be added to their on-demand library after they air too, so you can catch-up with them at a time that suits you. And, while the entire series is available FREE to UK viewers, you will need to have a valid TV license.
While travel might be unlikely during this ‘second wave’ of coronavirus, if you’re currently abroad then you’ll need a check out a good VPN to access BBC iPlayer content, and so stream Small Axe from anywhere.
How to watch Small Axe online in the US
Small Axe looks to be another lauded UK-US TV collaboration following the release of drama series Industry, and American audiences can stream this BBC-Amazon Studios co-production via Amazon Prime Video. Starring Letitia Wright (Top Boy, Black Panther), ‘Mangrove’ will premiere on the VoD service Friday, November 20, with a new film being added each week up until December 18.
Amazon Prime Video offer a dizzyingly generous month-long free trial that provides new subscribers with access to over 18,000 movies and nearly 2,000 TV shows, in addition to premium membership benefits like free delivery and Prime Music. When your month of no-strings-attached fun ends, a subscription will cost you $12.99 a month – but if you decide to buy an annual membership ($119), you’ll make a saving of $36.84 per year.
In another country and unable to access your Amazon Prime Video account? Try using a VPN, which works by changing your IP address, thus allowing you to watch Small Axe online from anywhere.
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Can I watch Small Axe online in Canada?
The simple answer is…no. Surprisingly, Canadian broadcasters and on-demand platforms haven’t yet snatched up this exceptional series of films helmed by the acclaimed director of Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a Slave, although they have been acquired in France, Spain, Russia, South Africa, and many other international territories.
At this point we can only hope, given it’s available via Amazon in the USA, that the Amazon of the Great North will eventually bring this quintet of quality dramas to Canadian viewers. Or perhaps they’re engaged in a high-stakes bidding war with streaming rival Crave?? Watch this space!
In Canada from abroad and want to access a streaming service from your country of residence? Then you’ll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as detailed above. Luckily, it couldn't be easier to get started with a good VPN.
Can I watch Steve McQueen's Small Axe online in Australia?
Things look a lot more promising for Australian audiences, although there’s no broadcast date announced yet. Pay television company Foxtel recently purchased the rights to stream Small Axe in Australia, as part of a content deal in place with the BBC. When it finally does hit screens, cable viewers will be able to enjoy all five instalments through Foxtel’s BBC First channel.
Cord cutters would get access through IPTV service Foxtel Now by opting to add the Drama channel package to their Essentials Base plan, thus allowing them to view content from BBC First, BBC UK TV, Fox Showcase, Universal, and much more). While that will set members back AUS$35.00 a month, new subscribers are entitled to a 10-day free trial!
Alternatively, if you have Fetch TV – or are willing to shell out AUS$169 for a TV Box – just include the Variety package for AUS$6 a month to get BBC First access. A TV Box integrates all your TV media – uniting Free-to-air channels with TV apps like 9Now, your VoD memberships (Netflix, Stan), and any premium channel packages you add on – bringing it together in one convenient place.
On holiday but want to watch Small Axe as it airs? Downloading a VPN is a quick and easy solution: allowing you to access your preferred on-demand platform and watch Small Axe from anywhere in the world.
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Daniel Pateman is a freelance writer, producing articles across the cultural spectrum for magazines like Aesthetica, Photomonitor, The Brooklyn Rail and This is Tomorrow. He also provides text-writing services to individual curators and artists worldwide, and has had work published internationally. His favourite film genre is horror (bring on Scream 5!) and he never tires of listening to Absolute 80s on the radio.