How to watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels online or on TV from anywhere

An imperiled red squirrel in Cumbria takes time out from the struggle to survive to enjoy its lunch in new BBC doc Cumbria's Red Squirrels
(Image credit: BBC)

From Squirrel Nutkin to Secret Squirrel, the red squirrel has always been the alpha of the species in the media but in real life it is a very different story. As new doc Cumbria's Red Squirrels explains, the invasive gray squirrel has almost driven the reds to destruction. The show is free on BBC iPlayer in the UK but don't worry if you're currently abroad – you can watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels from anywhere with a VPN.

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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Gray squirrels are less easily spooked than their red cousins and therefore deemed to be more friendly and so what harm could it cause to introduce them into the woodlands of Britain from North America? The answer is, of course, massive and almost existential for the much-loved red.

As this 59-minute documentary shows, the time for action to prevent the extinction of the species – affectionately known as 'red scamps – is now. "Red squirrels are legally protected, but despite the legal protection, there is no government funding to protect them," filmmaker Terry Abraham explains. "[Groups dedicated to helping them survive] fully rely on volunteers, donations and public grants." 

Here's how to watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels online from anywhere in the world, with all the information you need in this article below.

How to watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels in the UK for free

The BBC is airing Cumbria's Red Squirrels on BBC Four at 9 pm BST on Monday, May 27 and BBC iPlayer on the same day.

BBC Four and iPlayer are free to watch for licence fee payers. If you're trying to access your usual iPlayer account while outside the UK, you might want to try a VPN to allow you to watch from abroad.

Can I watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels in the US?

Despite the success of other BBC exports such as Death in Paradise and I Kissed a Girl no broadcaster or streaming services have picked up Cumbria's Red Squirrels at this stage.

So if you're traveling Stateside right now and want to catch the show we suggest that you download a VPN as described below to stream Cumbria's Red Squirrels. 

Can I watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels in Australia?

As with the US, Cumbria's Red Squirrels is not available in Australia as yet. However, if you are a Brit Down Under for work or on vacation and want to catch the show we suggest that you download a VPN as described below.

How to watch from anywhere with a VPN

You can watch Cumbria's Red Squirrels on the BBC iPlayer by using a VPN — no matter where you are in the world!

Normally a streaming service will know where you are trying to tune in from and block you if you're not in the right country but a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an app that hides your location. That means you can access your usual sports and entertainment services even while you're traveling abroad.

Our favorite VPN is NordVPN, which is the No. 1-rated VPN in the world right now according to our sister site, TechRadar, where you'll find a deeper reader on the best VPN services available right now.

How to use a VPN to watch any stream

  • Download the app at NordVPN
  • Choose the location of the streaming service you want to watch (UK, US, etc)
  • Navigate to the streaming service and start watching!

NordVPN is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to watch what you want, from wherever you want to watch it.

It's straightforward and easy to use, has great security, is available on loads of streaming devices and, best of all, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out 100% risk-free. Give it a go.

Cumbrian Red Squirrels FAQ

Why did the introduction of gray squirrels into the UK from North America prove to be so disastrous?

In only 100 years after gray squirrels were introduced to the grand homes and houses of Britain, the indigenous red species has been brought to the brink of extinction with Cumbria in Northern England the last remaining stronghold. 

In the first instance, gray squirrels carry the virus parapox that does them no harm but can be fatal to reds and also eat unripened green acorns (a key food source for their red counterparts). 

Other damage caused by grays to the ecosystem includes: Stripping bark at the base of beech, oak and chestnut trees; raiding birds' nests for eggs; and, eating/ destroying orchards and gardens, bulbs and recently sown seeds.

To make matters worse, it transpires that red squirrels are less likely to breed when under pressure. 

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Bill Borrows

Bill Borrows is an award-winning journalist, feature writer and columnist (Times Magazine/ Guardian/ Telegraph/ Daily Mirror/ Mail On Sunday/ Radio Times), author (The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life and Times of Alex Higgins) and book editor. A frequent contributor on talkSPORT and talkRADIO, his areas of specialisation include sport, history, politics, TV and film. He doesn’t get much free time but does admit to an addiction to true crime podcasts, following Man City home and away, and a weakness for milk chocolate hobnobs.