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The best BBC iPlayer VPN 2022

BBC iPlayer open on an internet browser
(Image credit: chrisdorney / Shutterstock)

The BBC is as famous around the world for its high-quality as it is for being absolutely free to watch at the point of use. And the online BBC iPlayer has made it even easier watch all of its best shows, films and sports on just about any platform you can think of.

Unfortunately, you can't stream any of it outside of the UK. But by using a VPN you can stream anything from its huge library of TV shows and films no matter where you are in the world.

That's because the best BBC iPlayer VPNs are able to bypass geo-restrictions and unblock the platform. An iPlayer VPN works by rerouting your IP address to make your device appear to be in a country of your choice. So, if you want to watch shows on iPlayer, you’ll want to appear to be in the UK.

Speed, number of servers and server location are your top priorities when choosing your iPlayer VPN. And getting a VPN with a free trial can be useful if you want to try before you commit. Below you’ll find the most reliable VPNs for BBC iPlayer, and further down the page we’ll also explain how to use them once you’ve made your choice.

ExpressVPN - #1 best BBC iPlayer VPN

ExpressVPN - #1 best BBC iPlayer VPN
You'll often see ExpressVPN top lists of VPN providers, and it's no different for accessing the BBC library from abroad. It gives reliable unlocking with excellent speeds and is extremely easy to use - even for beginners. Sign up for a year to get 3 months extra free and you can give it a try for 30-days risk free thanks to its no-quibble money back guarantee.

The best BBC iPlayer VPN in 2022:

ExpressVPN is the best BBC iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The best overall VPN of them all

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 5

Lightning-fast speeds for streaming
Great tech support
Super simple to use
Bit pricey

ExpressVPN is our #1 VPN overall because it does everything a VPN needs to – and does it extremely well.

There’s a vast selection of servers - including several options in the UK - and finding a perfect connection isn’t a hassle. However, if something’s not working properly, we’ve found the live-chat support to be quick and helpful (and available 24/7), and they should be able to get you accessing iPlayer in no time - even if the Smart Location server choice doesn't let you get it working at first.

ExpressVPN’s split tunnelling also allows you to choose which of your connections route through the VPN. This is perfect if you’re running apps that are significantly affected by VPN use but still want to use BBC iPlayer abroad.

While a little more expensive than some competitors, ExpressVPN combines great iPlayer access with a full suite of features. And if you’re not happy, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.

(Image credit: Future)

2. NordVPN

Popular VPN with bonus security features

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 6

P2P optimized
Fully audited no-logging claims
Good live chat support
Not the cheapest

NordVPN has long been a great option for watching iPlayer abroad, with swift connection speeds, plenty of servers and great security. NordVPN is also optimized for P2P, so if you’re a keen torrenter it’s a great torrenting VPN, too. Add to that its reputation proceeds it as one of the most well known providers on the market, you can rest assured you're buying into a great bit of kit.

Loaded with plenty of excellent security features, NordVPN boasts an effective kill switch, DNS leak protection and 2048-bit encryption. That leaves the security conscious left to feel safe while streaming from BBC iPlayer with NordVPN - something which it's managed to do with a delightful amount of consistency as of late. 

You can also add US Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, and other key streaming services to its repertoire of streaming service unblocking.

If problems arise, the live-chat support will get you streaming in no time and, although some billing plans are a little pricey, NordVPN definitely earns its place on our top BBC iPlayer VPN list.

Surfshark BBC iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: Future)

3. Surfshark

Cheap and fully featured VPN making waves

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Tempting price
Plenty of servers
Unlimited connections
Not quite as fast as Express or Nord

Don’t be fooled by the bargain-basement price – Surfshark is a top-notch VPN that offers just as much as many of its pricier rivals, including plenty of security features, decent speeds, and the ability to unblock many streaming services - including BBC iPlayer. On top of that, you'll benefit from unlimited simultaneous connections - all at a wallet-friendly price.

The speed aspect is certainly important when you're looking for the perfect choice for streaming. While Surfshark doesn't reach some of the highest peaks we've seen, our WireGuard testing delivered 400-475Mbps results, which is a healthy figure for anyone looking to stream without issue.

Far from being a basic VPN, Surfshark offers great security with its private DNS on each server, and a double-hop ability to further obfuscate your location to ensure ultimate privacy. Add to this P2P support, split tunnelling and more, and you’ve got a premium package. And with servers based in London, Manchester, and Glasgow, anyone wanting to unblock iPlayer is covered.

The easy set-up, unlimited simultaneous connections and quick live-chat support make Surfshark the cheapest way to stream BBC iPlayer abroad with a VPN.

(Image credit: Private Internet Access)

4. Private Internet Access

VPN with one of the biggest server networks

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus | Streaming devices: Android, iOS | Maximum devices supported: 10

10,000+ servers
Unblocks major streaming services
Feature packed clients
No security audit
Doesn't offer the fastest speeds

After a feature-packed iPlayer VPN with a large server network? Private Internet Access more than does the job, boasting an almost unfathomable 10,000 servers across 78 countries. 

While to watch BBC iPlayer all you'll need is a few situated in the UK, it's good news if you want to go one step further and unblock the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus, too. Private Internet Access is able to slip between the gaps of any geo-restrictions and offer all the results of a streaming VPN, allowing you to watch all the most popular streaming platforms. 

What's more, of our four iPlayer tests, performance was excellent for three out of four, with our third attempt still gaining us access, but running on the slower side of average. Considering it certainly isn't the fastest in terms of speeds, we weren't surprised and were still able to unblock iPlayer and watch BBC's plethora of on-demand content.

Admittedly Private Internet Access doesn't have clients for many streaming devices. That said, what it lacks in devices, it makes up not only in the up to 10 simultaneous connections, but also its feature-packed clients, especially its mobile apps, which we are big fans of.

A clean interface across the board, a swipe up reveals a number of settings and features to toggle on/off and customize to better cater to your experience and what you want from your VPN.

ProtonVPN interface on various devices

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

5. ProtonVPN

A speedy, unblocking machine

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: No | Money back guarantee: 30 days pro rata | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Chromecast, Android TV | Maximum devices supported: 10

Fast WireGuard speeds so less buffering
Unblocks top streaming platforms
Great mobile apps
Need Plus plan for streaming
Not compatible with Fire TV Stick or Apple TV

Whether it’s a journey through time and space with the Time Lord in Doctor Who, or cracking up with Kerry and Kurtan in This Country, ProtonVPN does just the job in ensuring you can access BBC iPlayer’s extensive library of quintessentially British entertainment no matter where you find yourself. Whether you’re outside of the UK, or in an office or school where access to iPlayer is blocked, hop onto one of Proton’s UK servers and you’ll be able to stream iPlayer as if you were at home.

To add to the experience, ProtonVPN offers excellent performance with the introduction of WireGuard boosting its speeds to 720-740Mbps. That comes not far behind some of the most impressive speeds we’ve seen from the likes of NordVPN and lends itself to the best iPlayer VPN, allowing you to stream without falling victim to the dreaded buffering screen.

Alongside that, it does a great job of unblocking other popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. The catch is you will need the pricier Plus plan in order to benefit from its unblocking capabilities. It's also a little disappointing to see a lack of media streamer compatibility for Amazon Fire Stick and Apple TV. 

That said, having seen a huge leap across the board, hopefully dedicated clients for these devices won't be far behind, much like its live chat feature, which we've been informed is set to be 24/7 soon.


How do I unblock BBC iPlayer with a VPN?

For those who haven’t used a VPN before, the process of rerouting your IP can sound like a difficult task – after all, you're just just trying to watch some TV! Don’t be put off, though, as all of our picks above all feature in our overall best VPN guide and all have user-friendly interfaces that will allow anyone to access iPlayer.

Although your chosen VPN might have advice for accessing certain content, here’s our very straightforward four-step guide for unblocking iPlayer by using a VPN:

1. Sign up for and install your chosen VPN
2. Pick the fastest available server in the UK and connect to it
3. Visit the iPlayer website – you’ll need to make an account if you haven’t got one already
4. Pick a show to watch and relax!

What is the best working BBC iPlayer VPN?

Right now, ExpressVPN tops our list of the best BBC iPlayer VPNs. It hasn't always been, but right now it's a really robust, reliable service that also boasts excellent speeds and a brilliantly easy-to-use interface on desktop, mobile, streaming devices, Smart TVs and more. It's great for unblocking Netflix and Amazon Prime Video blocking, too.

Why would I need a VPN for BBC iPlayer?

With more streaming services popping up than we can feasibly subscribe to, the BBC's on-demand platform, BBC iPlayer, is a bit of an anomaly, offering thousands of TV shows and films to stream 100% for free. However, if you find yourself outside of the UK for whatever reason, you're going to need a VPN to bypass the geo-restrictions implemented across the platform's library of content.

Hosting incredible British television like Peaky Blinds and the latest season of Doctor Who, BBC iPlayer is also the place to watch Killing Eve and US imports like the 2021 reboot of Gossip Girl. You'll also want an iPlayer VPN to watch The Great British Bake Off, as well as Strictly Come Dancing and the latest episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race UK.

What else can a VPN do?

As we say, VPNs have become the way to watch your favourite shows when abroad and open up a whole world of new shows and films to watch on BBC iPlayer and beyond - the amount of people using a VPN for Netflix is enormous. And the same goes for Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and regular domestic stations, too.

The geo-spoofing nature of virtual private networks that make them so useful for streaming, also provides the perfect tool for unblocking restricted websites and sidestepping country-wide internet restriction, which is why VPNs for use in China are so popular.

And their encrypted tunnels also make VPNs a kind of de facto antivirus companion (or replacement). Using an unrelated IP address effectively makes you anonymous as you use the internet, and your data is shielded from prying eyes and cyber crooks.

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Adam Marshall
Adam Marshall

Adam is the Editor-in-Chief of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversees many of the articles TechRadar produces about antivirus software, VPNs, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews.