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Foreign travel can be fun, glamorous and exciting, but sometimes it's more about sitting in a dull hotel room in the middle of nowhere on a cold, wet Wednesday evening.

If your hotel gives you access to a fast internet connection then you could pass the time by catching up with UK radio or TV – but what's the best way to do it?

Your first approach should be to try the regular catch-up sites, such as iPlayer or 4oD. Normally they block IP addresses outside the UK, but this doesn't always work. Radio in particular is generally available worldwide.

If you absolutely must catch the latest Mock the Week and iPlayer won't give you access, the simplest solution may be to find a free UK proxy server. Your traffic goes to the server, which then makes the connection to iPlayer. The proxy is UK-based, so iPlayer accepts it, then the TV stream is routed back to you.

The problem? The BBC knows about this, and has blocked many proxies already. Most of the rest are slow and unreliable, without the bandwidth to cope with TV watching. But if you'd like to try anyway, browse sites such as, or to see what options are currently available.

Television on the move

A more effective solution may be to use Tor, which is intended to help you browse the web anonymously, but also works well for our TV-watching purposes. You'll need to install Tor, then configure it to use UK exit nodes.

Cherie Hurwitz has written a helpful blog post that explains exactly how you can do this, and WebTVUnleashed has a portable package that includes every software tool you'll need to get the deed done.

Tor can still be slow, though, so for decent performance we recommend paying for a commercial solution. There are plenty of choices. iPortal is an effective VPN tool. It's somewhat short on documentation, but you get a 24-hour trial, and even after that it's only €5 a month.

VPNUK has more features, will work with just about any device you point at it, and is yours for £5.99 a month (no minimum contract). WatchUKTV is cheap at £4.99 a month, with a free one-hour trial.

If you don't get on with any of these sites, ViewTVAbroad also offers a free one-day trial, and while it's a touch more expensive at £6.49 a month, it enables you to watch programmes from the USA as well as UK TV – which is a valuable extra benefit.