The best BBC iPlayer VPN 2024

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BBC iPlayer—the BBC's award-winning streaming service—is home to brilliant TV shows, movies, news, live sports, and more. It's free to use with a valid TV license, but if you find yourself outside the UK, you'll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to bypass the BBC's stringent geo-restrictions, unblock iPlayer, and enjoy all that it has to offer. 

You won't get away with picking any old VPN, though. You'll need one of the best BBC iPlayer VPNs for the job. Luckily, I've been putting VPNs through their paces for the last 3 years—and some of them just aren't worth your hard-earned cash. Metrics such as speed and security are core to my review process, but I also spent a considerable amount of time identifying the best streaming VPNs, so you can watch UK TV from abroad without breaking a sweat.

Below, I've compiled a definitive shortlist of the 5 best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer. Each pick wowed me with its unblocking capabilities, not to mention its security and privacy credentials—so let's jump right in.

Written by
River Hart Tech Software Editor
Written by
River Hart

River helps take care of cybersecurity content on TechRadar—ranging from breaking news pieces, reviews, and buying guides.

The three best VPNs at a glance

Just want to get up and running? Take a look at the top 3 BBC iPlayer VPNs.

1. NordVPN: the very best BBC iPlayer VPN

1. NordVPN: the very best BBC iPlayer VPN
NordVPN is a streaming skeleton key, capable of unblocking BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more. Plus, it's the quickest service I've used in a long time, so you can count on uninterrupted HD streams.

You'll also get access to handy ad-blocking and malware-protection tools that'll keep digital nasties at bay. It's well worth taking NordVPN for a spin with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

↪ Read more in my NordVPN deep dive

2. ExpressVPN: a great pick for beginners

2. ExpressVPN: a great pick for beginners
ExpressVPN unblocks BBC iPlayer like a charm—and can help you check out content from other streaming platforms, too. The VPN is super-speedy, full of features, and incredibly easy to set up (even if you're new to VPNs).

Although it's more expensive than my other picks, you can get an extra 3 months free if you pick up a 1-year ExpressVPN plan. You'll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee to put the service through its paces before committing.

↪ Read more in my ExpressVPN deep dive

3. Surfshark: a budget-friendly choice

3. Surfshark: a budget-friendly choice
On the hunt for a bargain? Surfshark is well worth checking out. It proves that a rock-solid VPN doesn't have to break the bank. Surfshark is lightning-fast, unblocks all of your BBC iPlayer favorites, and apps that are a joy to use.

Surfshark also allows for unlimited simultaneous connections, which means you'll be able to secure all of your devices with just one plan. Check it out today with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

↪ Read more in my Surfshark deep dive

Recent updates

The TechRadar team recently completed another round of VPN testing - and the results are in. NordVPN shot to the top of the rankings, usurping ExpressVPN, thanks to its enduring balance of unblocking power and privacy. Want to see what else we discovered? Check out our summary of the latest VPN test results

The best BBC iPlayer VPN in 2024:

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Take a look at how my top picks compare, as well as each VPN's key features, test results, what I liked best about each service, and any reasons you might be better off avoiding them.

The best iPlayer VPN overall

(Image credit: Future)

1. NordVPN

Unblocking power that just can't be beat

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | UK servers:: 440+ | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ITVX, All 4, 9Now, 10Play | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 6

The fastest VPN on the market
Fully audited no-log claims
Good live chat support
Free Meshnet functionality
Unblocks BBC iPlayer and UK Netflix
Map interface can be fiddly
Fewer server locations than ExpressVPN
Subscribe if:

✔️ Speed is everything. In my most recent tests, NordVPN leapt to the top of our fastest VPN rankings.

✔️ You're an avid streamer. In addition to BBC iPlayer, NordVPN can unblock in-demand platforms like Netflix and Prime Video.

✔️ You want affordable quality. NordVPN strikes the perfect balance of features, performance, and security at wallet-friendly prices.

Don't subscribe if:

You're looking for a simple interface. NordVPN's map-style interface is fun, but Surfshark's UI is a lot more straightforward.

You need servers everywhere. Servers in 60 locations is pretty impressive, but NordVPN is more limited than ExpressVPN.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

🔒 NordVPN is an awesome all-rounder that won't break the bank. You'll get access to BBC iPlayer, as well as a ton of Netflix libraries, and lightning-fast speeds that'll ensure your streams are HD and buffer-free. Try NordVPN risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more?

Head over to our NordVPN review to see why this super-speedy service is also our #1 Netflix VPN.

NordVPN took center stage in our most recent round of VPN testing—though, to be fair, the VPN always impresses. I had no trouble unblocking BBC iPlayer with NordVPN's help (and its sleek and stylish apps), and getting set up only takes a second. So, you'll spend less time scrolling through settings and more time catching up on your favorite British content.

Currently, NordVPN has a broad network of more than 5,600 servers, and 44 of them are based in the UK. This is great news for folks looking to appear as though they're in ol' Blighty and access BBC iPlayer, ITVX, All 4, and other British streaming services. That's not all, though—NordVPN has no trouble unblocking Disney Plus and Prime Video. Where Netflix is concerned, I think NordVPN is one of the best Netflix VPNs out there, reliably unblocking catalogs in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan. NordVPN could even provide a solution to the Netflix password sharing ban.

Try NordVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Currently, NordVPN is sitting pretty at the top of our speed rankings, as 2024's quickest VPN. These speeds are reliable, too, meaning you can count on an awesome performance even during peak times. NordVPN is fast enough that you can leave it running in the background, and go about your day-to-day browsing, without noticing any major slowdown. That's not something all of today's top dogs can claim.

NordVPN can get serious, too—and packs a ton of features into a subscription. A kill switch ensures that you don't leak information in the event of a VPN dropout, and P2P support makes NordVPN a top choice for folks on the hunt for a torrenting VPN. I'm particularly impressed by the fact that NordVPN has undertaken four independent security audits—and it's something I'd like to see other services emulate.

One of my only quibbles is that the map interface is somewhat glitchy. Admittedly, this is a fairly superficial qualm, but if you're using NordVPN on a device with a smaller screen, it could be a bit annoying. It's also worth noting that you'll only get 6 simultaneous connections, which might not be enough to cover a whole household.

If any problems arise, or if you need help accessing your BBC iPlayer favorites, the live-chat support is happy to help. You can also reach out via email, or do your own troubleshooting with the help of a well-stocked library of support articles and tutorials.

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NordVPN test results:
DesignA fun and fresh design that can feel a little busy⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIntuitive apps for all devices, although the map interface could be easier to use⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest VPN I've tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and a ton of British staples⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyBuilt-in antivirus, a kill switch, and reliable leak protection⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLive chat is ready to help tackle questions and concerns⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceFair prices and excellent value⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best VPN for beginners

ExpressVPN across deviceseditor's choice award logo

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

2. ExpressVPN

Easy-to-use apps and speeds that don't disappoint

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | UK servers:: Docklands, East London, London, Wembley | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ITVX, All 4, 9Now, 10Play | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 5

Apps are well-designed and intuitive
Servers in more than 94 countries
Unblocks tons of content
Great 24/7 tech support
Super simple to use
On the pricey side
Not as fast as NordVPN
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want access to international content: Whether it's BBC iPlayer, Netflix, or Amazon Prime, ExpressVPN has no trouble unblocking your favorite shows.

✔️ You need a trustworthy service: ExpressVPN proves its commitment to privacy with regular audits and a no-logs policy.

✔️ You stream on multiple devices: All of ExpressVPN's apps are easy to install and use, so you can check out BBC iPlayer on desktop and mobile.

Don't subscribe if:

You're sticking to a budget: ExpressVPN is a pricey provider, so you might want to check out Surfshark if you're looking for a bargain.

You want a full security suite: While ExpressVPN is my number one pick for unblocking BBC iPlayer, it doesn't come with built-in antivirus capabilities like NordVPN.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🔒 ExpressVPN is the total package, with sleek, stylish apps for all your devices and tons of security features. Plus, the VPN can unblock virtually all in-demand streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, and you can try it for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more?

Visit our full ExpressVPN review for a more in-depth look at this premium provider and its suite of features.

ExpressVPN is one of my go-to services for unlocking streaming content—and it's particularly adept at accessing BBC iPlayer content. I didn't run into any hiccups during my testing, and I'm confident that total VPN newbies will have an easy time of it, too.

On the subject of servers, there are more than 3,000 to choose from, scattered across 94 countries, and a decent selection of UK locations in London, the Docklands, and the Midlands. These UK servers come in handy for unblocking BBC iPlayer and other on-demand platforms, like ITVX and All 4. During my tests, I was able to access a huge library of content without any roadblocks. The VPN also claims to unblock other Brit favorites, including BT Sports and Now, and international staples like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus.

Try ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You shouldn't run into any issues, but if you do struggle to unblock BBC iPlayer (and if the Smart Location server feature isn't fixing the problem), live chat support is available 24/7. ExpressVPN's agents are always happy to help, and can point out exactly which server you should use to continue your journey through the BBC's extensive collection of entertainment.

ExpressVPN has some of my favorite apps—they're incredibly easy to use, regardless of the device you install them on, and have a fresh, fun design. It's a little disappointing that the VPN only gives users eight simultaneous connections to play with, especially when Surfshark supports unlimited devices, but this is usually more than enough to cover the important gadgets in your house.

Admittedly, ExpressVPN isn't the fastest service on my shortlist—that honor goes to NordVPN. That doesn't mean ExpressVPN moves at a snail's pace, however, despite the slight drop in peak speeds to 560 Mbps. These results place it comfortably within the average performance range of a VPN, and you'll still be able to stream, torrent, and game online.

The ExpressVPN price point is on the steeper side, that's undeniable, but you're getting a premium provider stuffed with features, and proven security, as well as reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming platforms.

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ExpressVPN test results:
DesignA stylish (and clutter-free) design that stands out from its competitors⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNewbies and VPN veterans will have no trouble tweaking settings or finding UK servers⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceNot the quickest VPN, but still ideal for 4K streaming⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks BBC iPlayer and other UK staples⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyTop-notch encryption and an audited no-logs policy⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 live chat support can handle even the most techy questions⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceOn the expensive side, but the quality speaks for itself⭐⭐⭐

The best cheap iPlayer VPN

Surfshark interface across devices

(Image credit: Future)

3. Surfshark

Budget-friendly and fully featured

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | UK servers: London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester | Also unlocks: Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ITVX, All 4, 9Now, 10Play | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Low prices packed with value
A huge network of servers
Impressive speeds
Unblocks all streaming platforms
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Windows kill switch issues
Virtual server locations could be clearer
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're on a strict budget. Surfshark is the best cheap VPN out there, and manages to cram a ton of features into low-cost subscriptions.

✔️ You want a cheap security suite. Like NordVPN, Surfshark has its own set of built-in security tools to keep your browsing private.

✔️ Speed is a priority. Surfshark managed to max out my connection speeds at over 950 Mbps, making it ideal for HD streaming.

Don't subscribe if:

You rely on your kill switch. I managed to break the kill switch during testing, so stick with NordVPN to avoid IP leaks.

You're looking for unbeatable antivirus. Surfshark has plenty of tools, but you'll need one of the best antivirus solutions for guaranteed protection.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

🔒 Surfshark always manages to blow me away with just how affordable it is—and how much you get in exchange for a minuscule monthly fee. It's a great companion for avid streamers, and its speeds make online gaming and video calls nice and easy, too.

Want to know more?

Visit our detailed Surfshark review to see why this feature-packed service is also our #1 budget pick.

Don’t be fooled by the dirt cheap price—Surfshark is one of my favorite providers and has just as much to offer as many of its pricier rivals. You'll get a full toolkit of security features, well above average speeds (in fact, it's one of the fastest), and unlimited simultaneous connections to play with, which is some serious value for money.

Surfshark knocks it out of the park when it comes to unblocking streaming platforms—and with more than 3,200 servers spread over 100 countries, it's easy to see why. You'll have reliable access to UK staples like BBC iPlayer, as well as Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu. Basically, you'll never run out of box sets and movies.

Try Surfshark with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you're looking for the perfect streaming companion, Surfshark's speeds put it squarely in the running. The VPN prevailed in my latest batch of testing, hitting peaks of 950 Mbps which makes it one of the quickest VPNs around. In short? With Surfshark in your arsenal, you probably won't even notice you're connected to a VPN, even when streaming in 4K.

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 tunneling, and more, and you’ve got a premium package. The recent (and welcome) addition of Dedicated IP should result in fewer CAPTCHA checks, too.

The Surfshark apps are nice and simple to use, even if you're totally new to the world of VPNs, and work well on just about any device you can imagine. There's even a dedicated Linux GUI—which makes a nice change from the bog-standard command-line interface you'll see most other providers offering.

You shouldn't run into too many hiccups with Surfshark, but if you do need a bit of expert advice (about which server or protocol to use, for example), you can reach out to the customer service team via live chat.

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Surfshark test results:
DesignSimple and straightforward⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useAll features are clearly signposted⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceA super-fast service ideal for streaming in HD⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks pretty much all platforms in the UK and beyond⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyFull of features, including a kill switch and ad-blocking⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLive chat support is quick and resourceful⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceAn affordable option packed with value⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐