About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “How to watch BBC iPlayer shows outside the UK”. The post has become very popular with many comments and views, but the content is somewhat out of date. I’ve been meaning to update it for a while but have not got around to it until now.

For newcomers to this topic, BBC houses many of their shows on the web, however, viewing is limited to those within the UK. In order to be able to watch them from an IP outside the UK, you need to install some software using Windows and Firefox.

These steps also work on other sites, including Spotify if you are outside the UK or Hulu if you are outside the US. For both, just follow steps 1 through 9 as listed below.

Step 1: Download and install the latest stable release of Tor for Windows from http://www.torproject.org/. In this case we will be installing everything that comes with the package. (Tor is a tool that allows you to browse the web anonymously by routing your requests through various servers/proxies).
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Step 2: We now need to ensure that the last server your request is routed through is a server in the UK. Go to http://torstat.xenobite.eu/. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click “Show Custom/Advanced Query Options”. Under “Require Flags” choose “Yes” for “Exit” and under “Advanced Search” choose “Country Code” “equals” “GB”. (If you’re trying to use Hulu outside the US, enter “US” instead of “GB”.) Click “Apply Options”. Take note of all or some of the Router Names of the resulting servers except those marked Unnamed. These are your exit nodes in the UK.
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Step 2a: If torstat.xenobite.eu is down, you can try any of the following mirrors: https://kradense.whsites.net/tns/; http://torstat.kleine-eismaus.de/; https://torstatus.all.de/; http://torstatus.amorphis.eu/; https://torstatus.blutmagie.de/; http://torstatus.cyberphunk.org/; http://tns.hermetix.org/; https://torstatus.kgprog.com/

Step 3: Go to Start Menu and open All Programs -> Vidalia Bundle -> Tor -> torcc. This will open the Tor config file. Scroll all the way to the bottom and enter the following lines:
StrictExitNodes 1
ExitNodes <list of the names you found in step 2 separated by commas>
An example of the second line above would be:
ExitNodes anonion,anotherlink,colinwillsdorkyahoo
If a line starting with “ExitNodes” already exists, then overwrite the line with your new exit nodes. Save the file and exit notepad. Note: you may often have to update your list of exit nodes (step 2 and step 3) as the servers come and go.
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Step 4: Ensure you have the latest version of Flash installed for Firefox. You can do this by going to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/.

Step 5: Run Vidalia. After a few seconds, it should say "Connected to the Tor Network".
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Step 6: In Firefox, there should be a status at the bottom of the browser saying “Tor Disabled”. In order to enable Tor, you click it, and it should say “Tor Enabled”. This is where you can switch Tor on or off depending on whether you are browsing a site that needs it. In my previous post, I suggested installing Foxy Proxy to allow Tor to only be applied to certain sites, and you’re welcome to do this, but you don’t need it. Others have suggested Mgeni, which is another option depending on the flexibility you need. These instructions assume you don’t use either of those.
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Step 7: Right-click on the “Tor Enabled” status and select “Preferences”. In the “Security Settings” and “Dynamic Content” tabs, make sure that “Disable plugins during Tor usage” is unchecked.
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Step 8: Now that Tor is enabled, go to http://torcheck.xenobite.eu/. This page should confirm that you’re now using a Tor exit node.
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Step 9: Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/ to use iPlayer. Enjoy! (at this point you can also go to http://spotify.com or http://hulu.com if you’ve set it up for that)

I should note that trying to watch iPlayer through the proxy server is often very slow, and so some people prefer to download an episode and watch it on their computer. You can do this as follows (thanks to bisquick for the info):

Step 10: Go to the page of the show you wish to download and click on “More downloads” under the video. Choose “Windows Media Player” and save the file to your desktop. Let the file download – it will probably take a while. If you want, you could copy the location of the link from the Download popup, turn off Tor, and download it without using a proxy server, which might be faster.
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Step 11: Once the show has downloaded, you now need to set up Windows Media Player so that it will download a valid license to watch the episode. Open Internet Explorer and click on Tools -> Internet Options. In the “Connections” tab, click on “LAN settings”. Now under “Proxy server”, check “Use a proxy server for your LAN” and enter 127.0.0.1 for Address and “8118″ for Port. Uncheck “Bypass proxy server for local addresses”.
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Step 12: Play your episode in Windows Media Player. The license should download and your episode will play. Once the license is downloaded, you can undo the proxy settings in IE (by unchecking “Use a proxy server for your LAN”)