How to Watch Doctor Who Special Online Free: Season 12 Premiere

Usually, a special episode of Doctor Who is released on Christmas or Boxing Day. However, this year, things are a little different. The bad news is that fans have to wait until 6:55 PM GMT (or 8 PM EST / 5 PM PST if you’re in North America) on New Year’s Day. The good news, though, is that instead of a one-off episode, January 1 marks the premiere of Doctor Who season 12. After the two-part premiere concludes on January 5, new episodes will air weekly at 8 PM EST in North America and 7 PM GMT in the UK.

You should note that we’ll only be recommending official sources for the Doctor Who season 12 premiere. Given how popular this show is, unlicensed streams are almost inevitable, but we advise against using them. For a start, they tend to have very low-quality video, plus unauthorized streams are usually swiftly taken down by the copyright holder. Luckily, there’s no need to resort to shady, unreliable sources since you can watch the entire Doctor Who special online for free.

The twelfth season of Doctor Who will only be shown on region-locked streaming platforms. As such, you’ll need a VPN to watch if you are traveling abroad and there’s no official local broadcaster.

How to live stream the Doctor Who special abroad for free with a VPN

Most streaming services are only available in specific countries. When you connect to a VPN, though, the streaming service provider only sees the IP address of the VPN server you’re using. Since you can choose which country your VPN server is in, you can spoof your location and use services that were previously inaccessible in your country.

Here’s how to watch Dr Who abroad:

  1. First of all, sign up for a suitable VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN although CyberGhost and NordVPN are both exceptional, low-cost alternatives.
  2. Download and install the VPN app. There’ll be a few different versions for different platforms, so make sure to get the right one.
  3. Log in and connect to a server in your desired location. For instance, you’d use a British server to unblock British streaming services like BBC iPlayer.
  4. Visit the site you’d like to unblock. You should be able to watch content without any issues, but if not, try clearing your cookies and reloading the page. You may also want to try a different server in case the one you’re using has been blacklisted.
  5. That’s it, you can now watch Dr Who from abroad and connect to your home streaming services as normal.

The Doctor Who special will air live, which means it’s vital that you make sure your VPN works ahead of time. This approach ensures that you’ll have plenty of time to get help (if required) from your VPN’s customer support team and means you won’t miss the beginning of the episode due to unexpected technical problems.

How to watch the Doctor Who special for free on UK TV

British fans can stream Doctor Who live from 6:55 PM GMT on BBC iPlayer. This service is completely free to use, although you will have to create an account before you can watch anything. If you have other plans on New Year’s Day, don’t worry; the season 12 premiere will also be available on-demand a few hours after airing.

UK law requires you to have a TV license if you watch anything on BBC iPlayer. However, contrary to popular belief, BBC iPlayer does not ask you to enter a TV license number. It simply asks whether you have a license or not, and doesn’t verify your answer in any way.

BBC iPlayer has particularly strict region-locking features built in, and many VPNs struggle to unblock it. However, we can confirm that ExpressVPN still works. Better still, this service comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee which means you can try it out risk free and claim a full refund if you’re unsatisfied.

Where else can I stream Doctor Who season 12 online?

Doctor Who might be a British show but it has a dedicated legion of fans spread all over the world. If you are outside of your home country you can still connect to your usual streaming services with a VPN.

Take a look below to find out which network is showing the season 12 premiere in your country:


BBC America will be showing the first episode of Doctor Who season 12, completely free of charge. There’s a catch, though: to watch any future episodes (or any of the previous seasons), you’ll have to log in with your cable provider details.

Luckily, BBC America also supports a handful of over-the-top services (fuboTV, Philo, and YouTube TV) so it’s still possible to watch Doctor Who without cable. Each of these services includes a free trial so if you don’t mind waiting, you can sign up, stream Doctor Who, and cancel within a week to avoid being charged. Otherwise, we’d recommend using Philo since, at $20 USD per month, it’s the cheapest way to watch.

The platforms above are all region-locked and only available in the US. You can still access them from abroad by connecting to an American VPN server.


In Canada, the season 12 premiere will be shown exclusively on CTV Sci-Fi. If your cable TV package already includes CTV channels, you can simply sign in with your provider details and stream Doctor Who live at 8 PM EST / 5 PM PST each week. Episodes are also made available on-demand shortly after they finish airing, so it’s not a big deal if you miss one. Unfortunately, there’s no way to watch CTV online without cable.

CTV is geo-restricted, which means you’ll have to either be in Canada or using a Canadian VPN server before you can watch anything.


Doctor Who will premiere at 7:31 PM AEDT on January 2. Fans can watch it for free on ABC iView, and won’t even have to create an account first. New episodes will be made available for on-demand streaming shortly after they air, and will be available for around a month.

As this streaming service is geo-restricted, you will need a VPN to watch from outside of Australia.

What can fans expect from the Doctor Who season 12 premiere?

First things first: Jodie Whittaker will reprise her role as the 13th incarnation of The Doctor. The season 12 premiere, titled “Spyfall” will see her attempt to bring down a criminal mastermind while attending one of his parties.

Meanwhile, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan catch up with friends and family back home, giving viewers a little extra insight into their personal lives. That’s not to say that this season will be slower paced, though, and with showrunner Chris Chibnall claiming there’ll be a huge cliffhanger at the end of the first episode, this could be their last chance to relax for a while…

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