5 best iPlayer VPNs in 2022 for unblocking BBC content where you are

The best of British entertainment, make sure you always have access to BBC iPlayer no matter where you are with the best iPlayer VPN

BBC iPlayer app icon being launched on a smartphone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

No matter what you're after, whether you're hurtling across the time and space with Doctor Who and their latest companion, want to watch the latest thriller, The Girl Before, or get dolled up with Mama Ru in RuPaul's Drag Race UK, you're going to need the best VPN to tune in no matter where you are in the world. That's why we've stringed together a guide of the best iPlayer VPN to get the job done.

Let's face it, while VPNs are fundamentally about giving you a more secure Internet connection, the prospect of streaming with little to no limitations is by far the most interesting aspect of a VPN. Considering all content on BBC iPlayer is blocked to those outside the UK, then, a iPlayer VPN comes in handy when wanting to watch while abroad.

All you have to do is hop on a server located in the UK and watch as if you're right at home in front of the TV.

Of course, as well as our list hosting the very best iPlayer VPNs for the purpose of bypassing geo-restrictions outside of the UK, you'll reap the other benefits of a VPN with all our selections, too. From security to boosted download speeds (hello, no buffering!).

Sound good? Let's get started with our selection of the best iPlayer VPN detailed below.

1. ExpressVPN - the overarching best iPlayer VPN

1. ExpressVPN - the overarching best iPlayer VPN
ExpressVPN hits the top of the list time and time again - that's because it truly is the best VPN. In this case, it also does the job of unblocking iPlayer around the globe, as well as offering offering a superb interface, an array of excellent security features, competent speeds. Better still, you can try it out with a 30-day all your money back guarantee.

2. Surfshark – excellent streaming VPN for those on a budget

2. Surfshark – excellent streaming VPN for those on a budget
Surfshark just goes to show that you don’t need to spend a fortune for a feature-packed iPlayer VPN service. Starting at just $2.50/£2 per month, it provides unlimited connections, 3,200 VPN servers, fast speeds, the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer and other streaming platforms, alongside impressive security and privacy, plus 24/7 support.

3. NordVPN – the best iPlayer VPN  

3. NordVPN – the best iPlayer VPN  
NordVPN is not only a household name, but it lives up to its reputation thanks to a large global server network, fast speeds, user-friendly apps, access to major streaming services like BBC iPlayer, excellent security features, and lots more.

The best iPlayer VPN services in 2022:

ExpressVPN Best iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: Express VPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The best VPN out there is also the best for iPlayer bingers

Unblocks iPlayer?: Yes
Average speeds: 570-580Mbps
Number of servers: 3000+
Server locations: 160
Maximum devices supported: 5
Other streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+Fast speeds for streaming+Amazing tech support+Easy to use UI+Range of clients for devices
Reasons to avoid
-Steeper prices than competition

Once again, ExpressVPN ends up on top. The only VPN awarded a full 5 star rating, ExpressVPN is the best at what it does across the board, its only downfall being that it's on the pricier side, offering a service that sits above the average rate. That said, you can benefit from a risk free trial with its 30-day money back guarantee. The fact that it also adds the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer to its repertoire makes it the top choice for an iPlayer VPN.

With over 3,000 severs across 160 locations, ExpressVPN makes jumping over geo-restriction hurdles easy with the ability to access a working server in a number of countries around the world. Able to unblock the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus, too, customers can enjoy extensive bingeing. Better still, in our speed tests it had averages of 570-580Mbps, so you won't fall victim to the dreaded buffering screen anytime soon.

On top of being the best iPlayer VPN, ExpressVPN also boasts an exceptional user interface that is both straight forward to use and clean in design, making it a smooth experience even for newbies to VPN. This means benefitting from its boatload of features is exceptionally easy, able to breeze through the likes of its split tunnelling feature, which allows you run apps simultaneously with one connected to the VPN, while another could be turned off, or on another server.

Surfshark Best iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: Surfshark)

2. Surfshark

The best value iPlayer VPN on the market

Unblocks iPlayer?: Yes
Average speeds: 450-475Mbps
Number of servers: 3,200+
Server locations: 110+
Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Other streaming services unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Unlimited connections+Very cheap+Easy-to-use apps
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most in-depth service

Surfshark is a well-known and reputable VPN provider that won’t break the bank. However, it’s also one of the best iPlayer VPN services available, no matter where you're based.

Central to this service is a newly upgraded network of over 3,200 VPN servers globally, many of which are located in the UK. Using WireGuard, you can achieve UK speeds of 450-475Mbps, which is more than fast enough to enjoy great streaming on BBC iPlayer. 

Unlike NordVPN and many other providers, Surfshark enables users to install its VPN apps on an unlimited number of devices, which means you can cover just about every device you own, and then share your plan with those you live with, too. It also offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and many other platforms. 

Another excellent feature offered by Surfshark is CleanWeb, which offers protection from unwanted adverts, web trackers, malware, and phishing. Other features include a no-logging policy, a built-in kill switch, private DNS and leak protection, a camouflage mode, 256-bit encryption, and various protocols. 

NordVPN best iplayer vpn

(Image credit: NordVPN)

3. NordVPN

Exceptional security performance for your iPad VPN

Unblocks iPlayer?: Yes
Average speed: 760-880Mbps
Number of servers: 5,200+
Server locations: 60
Maximum devices supported: 6
Other streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Loads of servers+Fast speeds+Excellent streaming performance
Reasons to avoid
-Clunky map interface

In all honesty, there isn't a whole lot between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, so if you're looking for something a touch more affordable, NordVPN is a fantastic option and potentially a name you'll be more aware of.

Offering exceptional security features, including a dedicated kill switch (something ExpressVPN doesn't have), DNS leak protection, and 2048-bit encryption, NordVPN is also an incredible performer, too. Benefitting from its very own version of WireGuard, NordLynx, NordVPN had an incredible set of speeds in our testing with averages of 760-880Mbps - second only to IPVanish is the fastest provider out there - making this a great option for watching iPlayer.

Admittedly it's interface can be a bit clunky and awkward to use at times and you may have to jump through a few hoops to get iPlayer working. That said, as well as unblocking other big streaming services, it also comes with a wealth of amazing features and performance stats that put this in our top three best iPlayer VPNs.

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

4. ProtonVPN

A VPN excellent for streaming and performance

Unblocks iPlayer?: Yes
Average speed: 720-740Mbps
Number of servers: 1,800+
Server locations: 61 countries
Maximum devices supported: 10
Other streaming services unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+One of the few to still unblock Netflix libraries+Great WireGuard performance+Lots of connections+Quality apps
Reasons to avoid
-Need Plus plan for streaming unblocking-No 24/7 live chat support yet

ProtonVPN is more than capable when it comes to getting your fix of the latest BBC productions. It's proven to be an excellent one for streaming for a number of reasons, including being able to consistently unblock streaming platforms (which seems like a good place to start when it comes to an iPlayer VPN). In fact, other than ExpressVPN, it's the one we find to have the most success with unblocking Netflix since the streaming giant's latest crackdown on IP addresses - so if you're after an all-rounder for streaming, this is a contender. 

A speedy performance also goes hand-in-hand when it comes to watching content online. We were impressed with both Proton's WireGuard and OpenVPN speeds, averaging peaks of 510Mbps on OpenVPN and 740Mbps on WireGuard, which places it not far behind our fastest VPN (which NordVPN being the best on this list when it comes to speed).

Alongside BBC iPlayer and Netflix, it also unblocks Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus, making this a superb choice for keen bingers. What's more, its apps are plentiful across operating systems, and it's straight forward to use, too.

Seeing a boost to its network, now with 1,600+ servers across over 60 countries, ProtonVPN seems to be going from strength-to-strength, and is a more than capable BBC iPlayer VPN.

Private Internet Access Best VPN

(Image credit: Private Internet Access)

5. Private Internet Access

A VPN that hosts a huge network of server

Unblocks iPlayer?: Yes
Average speeds: 430Mbps
Number of servers: 30,000+
Server locations: 78 countries
Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Other streaming services unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Unblocks Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video, too+Big network+Great mobile apps
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't unblock Netflix

In our latest round of testing, Private Internet Access (PIA) pulled through and was able to iron out its issues and successfully unblock BBC iPlayer. That sees it swiftly join our rankings in terms of the best iPlayer VPN, with plenty of strengths elsewhere, too.

Featured packed, PIA serves one of the biggest networks of servers offered by any VPN we've tested with more than 30,000 servers available across 70+ countries dotted around the globe. This seems to work in its favor in terms of performance, too. While not the fastest VPN, Private Internet Access saw capable, average speeds of 430Mbps - more than enough for streaming through BBC iPlayer.

And if you're big on binge watching, PIA was also able to easily circumvent geo-restrictions on Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus content, too. Sadly this no longer stretches to Netflix, which many VPN providers have struggled to retain access to.

Alongside it's fantastic browser extensions, powerful kill switch, and great support site, PIA runs beautifully across both its Android and iOS apps, making it suitable for those who wish to equip their smartphone with both better security online and streaming unblocking prowess - which we imagine many watching BBC iPlayer on the move will want to do.

Best iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: Vantage_DS / Shutterstock.com)

What is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer?

Ticking all the boxes for the best iPlayer VPN is ExpressVPN. Not only does it expertly unblock iPlayer when you're outside of the country without too much hassle, it offers over 3,000 servers dotted across the world and the kind of speeds that mean no lag - music to all our ears and our bingeing hearts, too.

Of course, there are also another four recommendations from us depending on what you want from your VPN beyond simply being able to access iPlayer outside of the UK. For the true bingers, you'll want to ensure it successfully unblocks your preferred streaming services, like Netflix.

For some, ExpressVPN won't be the top choice either with its limitation on connections. For those who want one VPN account for not only all their own personal devices, but to share across their household, the likes of Surfshark  unlimited connections. This means simultaneous connections across any number of devices and across all servers.

How do I bypass BBC iPlayer restrictions?

Put simply, a VPN. For those who are less familiar with the tool, however, allow us to better explain how the best iPlayer VPN actually works in dismantling geo-restrictions implemented on BBC iPlayer content.

Those looking to watch any TV shows or movies on iPlayer outside of the UK will be met with a message stating: BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.

However, a VPN's basic function is to make your connection more secure and private. It does this by altering your IP address. IP addresses identify where you are and even the device you're using to browse on. When using a VPN, though, you'll be able to hop on a server, whether within your own country or another altogether. For those abroad, you can select a server within the UK and unlock the doors of iPlayer so you can enjoy entertainment as if you were at home on the couch.

Simply find one that works - any of our top five recommendations will more than do the job - and catch up on incredible entertainment straight from the BBC.

How do I watch iPlayer abroad for free?

Watching BBC iPlayer abroad for free is easy when using a VPN. Simply download the provider of your choice and connect to a server within the UK to access all iPlayer's content, including TV boxsets and movies.

It's worth noting, though, any of BBC's content is not strictly free. In the UK you require a TV license to watch BBC content, whether broadcast straight to your TV or online on iPlayer.

More VPN guides you might fancy:

Nicholas Fearn

Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, TechRadar, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!