BBC iPlayer France – How’s it Done?

For many UK citizens, particularly those with a love of fine food, wine and with a little disposable income to spare France is a great place. For years lower property prices have meant you can pick up some wonderful bargains especially for those brave enough to use the auction market. A decent exchange rate, slightly better climate and loads of simple, cheap ways to get there provide an obvious attraction. All across France many people have transitioned from holidays, to moving and living there.

It’s usually good advice when you move abroad to try and adapt to the local way of life and not create some sort of expat community isolated from the locals. However there is one exception to this, and it leads to the subject of this post – How do I get BBC iPlayer in France? Of course it’s best to try to adapt into your new home’s culture, but all this cultural assimilation can be quite hard work initially, so maintaining this connection to your home certainly helps.

BBC iPlayer France
Many of us have experienced the disappointment of trying to access the wonderful BBC site online from France and discovering it’s all blocked. The corporation don’t single out the French though, try and watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere outside the UK you’ll get redirected to a rather rubbish International version of the site. It unfortunately includes no BBC iPlayer, no Live TV streams or access to all the local and national radio stations. If you try and force your computer to visit the UK TV version and try and watch anything you’ll just get a screen similar to this:

bbc iplayer watched

All very polite and friendly but the implications are huge, no News at 10, no Match of the Day, no wonderful documentaries. The same happens with other UK based TV channels and if you try and watch ITV player abroad too. Not having BBC iPlayer abroad means losing a host of other TV programmes that you won’t realise you’re going to miss until you can’t watch them! It seems counterintuitive to restrict a site which is most useful for travelling when you leave the country. There were moves afoot to force BBC to allow UK license fee payers access from anywhere in Europe as part of creating a digital single market. However much to the disappointment of more than a million people or so that’s probably not going to happen now thanks to Brexit. So forget legitamate methods internet users it’s back to the vpns or proxy servers I’m afraid.

So I’m afraid some sneakiness is required – here’s the solution.

How Do I get BBC iPlayer in France?

You have to convince the BBC website that you’re actually in the UK which you can do by bouncing your internet connection through an intermediate server called a VPN or Proxy server. Nothing complicated you simply hide behind a UK based server and then everything web based will work as if you were in the UK including the BBC website, iPlayer etc.  You should be able to watch British TV that is online and also any subscription channels that you are a member of – it’s useful to watch Sky Go abroad for example too.

Here’s a quick demo video that demonstrates some of the options, unfortunately now all the free ones illustrated here don’t work anymore.  However fast forward to about 4:30 and you’ll see a VPN program in  action, it’s certainly the fastest and easiest option that still works in 2017 for watching the BBC iPlayer outside the UK:

As you can see it’s quite simple, you merely make the VPN connection to a British based server before logging on to the BBC website and you’ll have access to all the functionality of the site including live TV and the iPlayer archive. Interestingly enough it used to be possible to use a free proxy server to watch the BBC from France or Germany but unfortunately those no longer work. The BBC started blocking proxies late in 2015 and subsequently have increased their detection of these programs.

It’s not a popular move, as for years the BBC have been fairly relaxed about programs that allow you to watch from outside the United Kingdom. Especially in places like France where many people actually pay the UK licence fee anyway using these services to access UK TV from their holiday homes or holidays. They have actually been a little more aggressive than some of the stations although ITV player ask you to register using a UK postcode as well, although you just need to use a legitimate one from anywhere.  It’s hardly surprising though as many Brits are now living in France and enjoying the advantages of French family life whilst accessing iPlayer on any device they own.

Update on BBC iPlayer France VPN 2018 Issue

In the Summer of 2016, the BBC actually started actively targeting VPNs too and hundreds of services were blocked.   It’s wasn’t that the BBC iPlayer detecting VPN  programs, nobody has figured out how to do that, but they can investigate IP addresses with multiple connections and track through advertising. They realised just how many people were using this BBC iPlayer VPN workaround in these areas and how it perhaps affected their commercial revenue from people watching the BBC like this.  There are a lot fewer of these services now, but the majority that remain still work – always get a short trial account though before paying for a longer subscription to make sure.

Here’s our recommendation working now for watching the BBC iPlayer abroad anywhere in the world. Working fine in the Summer of 2018 – .

Using a BBC Proxy Server to Watch Outside the UK

The definition of a proxy server from Wikipedia is as follows;

In computer networks, a proxy server is a server that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers.

Not that exciting, I’m sure you’d agree so why do literally millions of people use UK proxies every single day. Well the clue is the intermediary part, because a proxy site actually sits between you and the website you visit. It effectively hides your location from the website you are visiting which only sees the location of the proxy server not you.

It does give you a higher level of privacy, however this is not the main reason people use proxies which is to evade region blocks and filters. As you may have discovered many of the best media web sites are only available in the country of their origin. So online you can only use the BBC iPlayer in the UK, NBC is only accessible in the US and so on.  However there is a way around this, you can proxy BBC programs from any country,  using a server based in the UK you can stream the broadcasts irrespective of your location.

Using a UK Proxy Server to Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad

Just watch this video for information on how to use a proxy server:

Simply explained it’s a proxy server which is physically located in the UK, and when you use it then you will appear to be in the UK too. Which is why for example, hundreds of thousands of Expats are able to watch the BBC News live from anywhere in the world from the Costa del Sol to Australia. They’re not in the UK but as long as the proxy server they use is then everything works perfectly.

It’s not just the BBC, all the UK Television stations are the same – from Channel 4 to the ITV Hub.  Whenever you try and access any of these stations from outside the UK you’ll receive a little warning message.

BBC Proxy

Connect to a UK proxy server first however and the BBC and all the other stations will work perfectly.    This is because the systems work by looking at where your IP address is registered to, which of course for a UK based proxy will be the United Kingdom. Your own IP address doesn’t actually change, however when using the virtual private network that address is invisible. All the video sites will only see the location of the VPN proxy and it will appear you live in the UK as far as the web site is concerned.

However in 2016 things changed a bit, particularly regarding the BBC.  For some reason they decided to start restricting access to these servers and blocking them.   Many servers became useless particularly the free proxy server list which all stopped working.  However the best proxy server programs also operated as VPN services too and most of them still work fine.

There are no real issues about using them, the BBC does try and block many of them.  However if you use a slightly more advanced system called a VPN there should be no issue. Many people use VPN servers routinely to keep their internet connection secure, they have taken over from the premium proxy programs which previously offered some protection.

Most of the commercially available services are very easy to use and you’ll find the best of them have servers in other countries included too which means you can watch TV and movies from those countries too. These proxy switchers allow you to change your IP address to match lots of different countries with a simple click enabling you to access blocked content in other countries.

Literally millions of people across the world use proxies and VPNs nowadays, hiding your real IP address just makes sense. More web sites across the words are limiting access based on your location for a variety of reasons. Many of the ones which broadcast tv online are concerned about copyright restrictions which are still assigned on a country by country basis. Whilst of course in other countries, the filters and blocks are assigned as a means of political and religious control such as Turkey and Iran for example.

Most of us though just don’t like to get blocked online, and these simple web proxies with unlimited data accounts basically bypass them all. Just like the BBC in the UK, there are media sites all over the world which restrict access based on your IP address. My favorite ones are generally the UK TV stations which I access using the UK proxy servers when travelling. However it’s worth checking out Canadian or US TV channels for some great documentaries and movies not available elsewhere for example.

At the time of writing, . is still working perfectly as a BBC proxy and in fact all the major media sites.

You can try the no obligation, trial of Identity Cloaker for the cost of a sandwich!

How to Stream UK TV from Abroad

All the UK major TV stations broadcast online, however none of these are accessible when you’re outside the UK. Instead you’ll either get blocked or like the BBC you’ll get redirected to an ‘International’ version which has no video or live streams available.

Here’s the screen of the BBC International version:

stream uk tv

You’ll notice several differences from the domestic BBC screen:

  • Redirected to BBC.COM
  • Different Design
  • No TV Link
  • No BBC iPlayer Link

It’s designed for a different audience, that is anyone connecting from outside the UK.  It’s still a great news site but unfortunately it’s missing the core of the BBC content i.e. all the Live TV, Radio and archived shows.   You can’t watch the  BBC stations live and also the stuff that has already been broadcast is missing too.

The BBC site determines your location based on a single piece of information – your IP address.  Every address is registered to a specific country and effectively determines where you are connecting from.  So a UK based IP address would get the full BBC site with access to all the programmes whilst any other address is redirected to the international version.

Fortunately there is a workaround and it involves using a piece of software which can effectively hide your real location from anyone.  It’s called a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and it gives you complete control over what you can access online – you can even watch the BBC from Australia without an issue.

This video shows how you can use one of these. Using a simple secure method for hiding your real location and keeping your connection details private. It’s a trick used by millions and you can see the VPN in action here controlling the location each web site sees when connecting. Using the program demonstrated effectively opens up all the UK Television stations online irrespective of your location.

So yes you can stream UK TV stations abroad directly to your computer whilst on holiday, travelling or simply because you prefer British TV stations to the local versions wherever you happen to be.