Watching IPlayer outside the UK

Tor is an anonymising network which allows people living in restrictive regimes to access the internet with relative impunity. If you know what you are doing you can use it to give yourself a UK IP address and watch BBC telly via IPlayer. This article tells you how to achieve same.

Why use Tor over other solutions? – Because it’s free, and because it won’t contain ads or malware, being an Open Source program.

What does this do? – It uses Tor’s Browser Bundle to connect the included web browser through UK only Tor exit nodes, which fools BBC IPlayer into thinking you are in the UK. The actual streaming still goes direct to your real IP address through Flash Player, so don’t use this if you want to remain hidden/anonymous, as it will definitely give you away!

My particular circumstances are that I am an English expat living in Ireland, but even though I can watch BBC channels through Sky or Freesat, the BBC block Irish IP addresses from IPlayer.

The steps are:-

  1. Download and extract Tor’s browser bundle.
  2. Manually copy the flash plugin into the Tor browser plugin directory.
  3. Enable plugins in Vidalia.
  4. Edit Tor’s config to only include UK exit nodes (preferably those with good bandwidth)
Tor’s browser bundle can be found here, be sure to choose the correct version for your operating system i.e. if you are using Windows download the Windows browser bundle.
Once you have downloaded the file go into the folder you downloaded it into and double click the file to extract it. You will see a dialog like so:-
Click extract and wait. Assuming you have Firefox you will probably already have the correct version of Flash installed, if not use Google installing Firefox and Flash is trivial and beyond the scope of this article. Now manually copy the Flash plugin into the plugin directory of the Tor browser bundle. There are 2 files needed “flashplayer.xpt” and “NPSWF32.dll” you will find these in “C:\windows\system32\macromed\flash”:-Copy and paste them into “Tor Browser\FirefoxPortable\App\Firefox\plugins” in the directory you downloaded the bundle into:-Then start the Tor browser for the first time:-
And open up preferences:-And deselect “disable plugins during Tor usage”:-Exit from Tor browser. All that remains now is to edit the Tor config to enable only UK exit nodes, the file is in “Tor Browser\Data\Tor\torrc”. Double-click on it and choose to open with “Notepad”, then click “ok”:-Paste the following
 ExitNodes {GB}
StrictNodes 1

at the start of the file:- Exit saving changes and start Tor browser again, test IPlayer, enjoy!:-Please note it doesn’t seem to work with live broadcasts. The procedure for Ubuntu/Linux is similar except you will need to copy the flash player plugin from “/usr/lib/flashplugin-installer” the file being called “libflashplayer.so”. The Linux version also includes the noscript plugin which means you will have to click on the no script icon and allow each time you watch a program!

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45 thoughts on “Watching IPlayer outside the UK”

  1. Where exactly did you copy the “flash” file(s) and what were the names of the files you copied?

    You also need “StrictNodes 1″ in the torrc.

  2. Hi John, Thanks for this useful blog. I have just installed Tor Browser as you explained and as far as I can see I have the latest version of Flash Player for Fire Fox but I am still having the same problem of iPlayer asking for the flash player to be downloaded. I have retraced my steps but the only thing I can see is that there is not much information in the torrc file. I have attached the contents. Have you any idea what I am doing wrong.

    # This file was generated by Tor; if you edit it, comments will not be preserved
    # The old torrc file was renamed to torrc.orig.1 or similar, and Tor will ignore it
    exitnodes {GB}
    AvoidDiskWrites 1
    ControlPort 9051
    DataDirectory C:/Documents and Settings/Keith/My Documents/Downloads/Tor Browser/Data/Tor
    DirReqStatistics 0
    GeoIPFile .DataTorgeoip
    Log notice stdout
    SocksListenAddress 127.0.0.1
    Thanks,
    Keith

  3. “NO LUCK” with what HSM?

    If you are trying to use nodes from a specific country to give yourself an IP in that country, that is not the way to do it. For example the article states to use “ExitNodes {GB}” to get a British IP. All you need do is substitute the country code for the country you are looking to view content in.

  4. Since I can’t be bothered to fire up my VM to check what you say is correct, Adam, I shall just take your word for it. Article updated, and thank you.

  5. In the new versions of Tor browser bundle there is no “Tor BrowserFirefoxPortableAppFirefoxplugins” directory:

    Place Firefox plugins in this directory (Flash, Shockwave, etc)

    Tor BrowserFirefoxPortableDataplugins

    Also tor preference is obtained by roght clicking on green onion button on top left of the browser and selecting preferences.

  6. Hi, thanks for the easy to follow walk through steps. I had trouble get my Torbundle (latest release) to cloack my identity, problem solved. I continued my stroll and completed every task you put infront of me, a very pleasant early evening august stroll. But sadly once I settled down to watch some aunty beebs latest I am met with ‘I need flash player’ I have the lalest version and copied the them as per your insrtuction. several times…..this included removing previous version of firefox and flash and I still have the same problem.
    The Tor bundle I now have installed was installed on 06/08/12 since that day i have been trying downgrading upgrading,re-installing fingers crossed, fingers un-crossed….’It still says in need flash to view’ I have copied the flash components to the tor browser>firefoxerportable>data>plugin folder. thid folder is now where these plugins should now be placed, a slight variation on your post. still no joy. Any help would be grarefully recieved.

  7. Hi, Difficult to tell. First of all you don’t need FoxyProxy and Tor. So, to keep things in line with how I use them I would recommend getting rid of that. Secondly if you could post your “torrc” I will see if there is anything obviously wrong there. Beyond that I will need the tor/vidalia log or some screen shots of it starting up.

    In fact it would probably just be easier if you followed the arcticle and installed the Tor Browser bundle from scratch.

  8. Hello! Thanks for the swift reply. My IP address (which I looked up on whatismyipaddress.com is 93.129.34.49 I checked what is was before I activated foxy proxy and tor and after and it didn’t change which is odd because I thought it would. I have been watching BBC iPlayer for the last two years and it has worked absolutely fine until yesterday. What on earth could the problem be for it to change so suddenly and without warning?

  9. Could you start by telling me what your IP address is when you are using foxy proxy and tor? I don’t and won’t use Skype I’m afraid, so unless you want to post and image here, or perhaps contact me on Google Plus and attach same if you’re worried about privacy.

  10. I use Foxy proxy and the vidalia tor. Until yesterday I was able to watch BBC iPlayer but something must have happened and now I get the message “Currently BBC iPlayer programmes are available to play in the UK …”. Do you have any idea where the problem could lie that I suddenly cannot watch anything on BBC iPlayer anymore? I set it up for youtube as well, as here in Germany quite a few music videos cannot be watched and for youtube it still works. Would be great if you could help, I need to watch Silent Witness in HD!! Thanks :) P.S.You could add me on skype and I could share my screen with you to show you how it’s set up.

  11. If you downloaded the “bundle” it will be in it’s own directory wherever you extracted it, and you can just delete the directory. Maybe I should take a look remotely, do you want to download and install the remote support software above and I will have a quick shuffty?

  12. Hi John, I have done all that. I have the latest version of Tor, and tried “ExitNodes {GB}” before but no luck. I even attempted running Tor from a USB thumb drive instead of the Desktop but ran into the same problem. On the subject of starting afresh any idea of uninstalling Tor? The measures mentioned in the Tor site is not useful as the Tor file is not even found in Windows program directory. Formatting the drive would be a little too drastic. Regards.

  13. First things first change “Exitnodes obelix, TorLand5, TorLand2″ to “ExitNodes {GB}”, that will ensure you always get a UK address.

    Secondly download the latest version of the Tor Browser and start again, It sounds as though the socks proxy settings in Tor Browser may have been messed up, would be as well to start afresh.

  14. Hi John, I verified the IP address. It is 146.185.23.179. This is actually the IP address of TorLand1.

    The torrc file is as follows.

    Exitnodes obelix, TorLand5, TorLand2
    StrictExitNodes 1
    # If non-zero, try to write to disk less frequently than we would otherwise.
    AvoidDiskWrites 1
    # Store working data, state, keys, and caches here.
    DataDirectory .DataTor
    GeoIPFile .DataTorgeoip
    # Where to send logging messages. Format is minSeverity[-maxSeverity]
    # (stderr|stdout|syslog|file FILENAME).
    Log notice stdout
    # Bind to this address to listen to connections from SOCKS-speaking
    # applications.
    SocksListenAddress 127.0.0.1

    I only added the first 2 lines to the file.

    As I said everything was working fine before and I did not make any modification to the torrc file. Lately, when I watching BBC the message was simply:’ The content does not appear to be working. Try again later’. I could not access BBC ever since. Thanks.

  15. I did say “whatsmyip.org” but never mind. Can you post the contents of your “torrc” file?

  16. Hi John, every thing was working fine previously. I did not change the settings but the last two days I encountered this problem. When I launched Tor browser it says: Your IP address appears to be 146.185.23.179. However, when I followed your link to whatsmyip.com the IP is: 220.255.1.144. Appreciate your assistance. Thanks.

  17. Yes, you haven’t followed the howto correctly. I just checked the setup again and it works fine for me. Go to whatsmyip.org in the Tor Browser and tell me what your ip address is.

  18. Lately this method is not working. When you activate the IPlayer it says the content does not seem to be working. Thus, you cannot view any program. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

  19. It’s ok, the article doesn’t make it entirely clear. You need to install Firefox and the Firefox version of Flash. That will then give you the correct files in the correct locations. Go to mozilla.org and click on “Get Firefox”. Follow the prompts.

    You currently have the Internet Explorer version of Flash installed which won’t work with the Tor Browser. The Tor Browser is based on Firefox, hence the need for the Firefox version of Flash.

  20. John I won’t waste anymore of your time…the only thing I noticed was in your screen grap you have Flash*_plugin.exe whereas I have Flash*_activeX.exe with no dll or xpt files

  21. Perhaps it has changed in version 11, but in version 10 it was stored in C:windowssystem32macromedflash as per the article, did you check there?

  22. Funny you should say that…I had noticed NPSWF32.dll was only version 10.0.12.36.
    The strange thing is when I downloaded Flash 11.1.102.55 this morning there were NO *.xpt or NPSWF32.dll files in the download directory. Had a search for them but didn’t find any.
    I seem to have flash file located in another place too…
    cdocs&settingsuserdesktopwindowssystem32macromedflash.
    do you know where adobe downloads flash to exactly?

  23. What version of “NPSWF32.dll” do you have in “Tor BrowserFirefoxPortableAppFirefoxplugins”?

  24. Hi John, no joy I’m afraid…i reinstalled TOR, and made all the changes but to no avail.
    I’ll keep at it, and let you know if I have any success

  25. You will have to copy the Flash plugin file as detailed in the instructions, otherwise it won’t pick up the new version. I expect you had the version 10 plugin copied into the Tor browser and that is what is causing the problem.

    Cheers from The Sunny South East.

  26. Hi John, thanks for the reply. I too have the lastest version of flash, version 11 +, I can cahnge all the parameters as you suggested but when I try to run the player it tells me I need to run a higher version of flash. BBC content needs flash version > 10 which I have.
    I may uninstall TOR and reinstall it which might then pick up the newer version of flash.
    Cheers from Roscommon

  27. I don’t quite understand that Aha. All I can tell you is I am using Flash version 11.1, and it works fine for me. Are you saying you have a version less than that e.g. 10?

    Perhaps you could post a screen shot to illustrate your dilemma?

  28. Thanks for the tip, however the iplayer could ‘see’ i had > version 11 flash running and denied me access to the player.
    Any ideas how to get around this?

  29. You don’t have to specify servers as exit nodes. You can also type “exitnodes {GB}” in the Torrc-file. Works just as well and you’ll never have to update your torrc-file when an exit node stops working.

  30. UK EXIT NODES AS OF NOW:

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  31. To access tor button go to Tools–>Add-ons–>extensions–>Tor Button and select Options–>Security Settings.

    You may also start with View–Options—Menu bar from Top left.

  32. It is possible to get Tor to proxy all traffic, but there are a couple of major problems using it for this purpose:-

    1. Tor is too slow to stream TV i.e. there isn’t enough bandwidth available.
    2. Ideally you would need to change operating system to do it anyway, which, I’m guessing would be neither desirable or achievable for you.

    There are many VPN services which will give you a UK ip, I expect most of them are dodgy, so I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole, but that’s me.

    Another alternative is to rent a dedicated server (or VPS) in the UK and setup your own VPN server. Would probably be comparable in cost to one of the VPN services but you would be the only one using it, pretty much guaranteeing a good service. Again I expect this is beyond your technical ability and I’m fairly sure you won’t pay me to set it up for you.

    All the best.

  33. Thanks a million for the really useful info – you solved my TOR/Flash problem – iplayer working now!

  34. Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with Sky’s player, but what I can tell you is that the “live streaming” from the BBC’s website wouldn’t work with this setup either, I suspect because the actual streamed data gets sent to your real ip address. I don’t have any further information on that at the moment but may look into it for you in the absence of another satisfactory solution.

  35. As you seem to be quite well-up on the subject, I thought I would ask you if you had found a solution to watching the new Sky Go Catch-up TV. Sky used to use Silverlight instead of Flash Player, which did not seem to work in Firefox. Now Sky has launched an all new Website for viewing TV for those who already have a Sky package and login. However, when outside the UK, and despite using a UK exit node in Tor, it still seems impossible to get it to replay any programs from any of the Sky channels that are included in one’s package. Without using Tor, one gets the message that one is not in the correct geographic region. With Tor, this message no longer appears, however the video simply will not play. I’d be grateful to hear from anyone who has found a solution.

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