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If you enjoy British television, you'll realize very quickly that only a tiny fraction of the shows made in the UK are available for easy viewing with things like Netflix and Acorn and BritBox. Many British shows are only available on DVD – and a lot of those are only available on PAL-format/Region 2 DVDs, which means you can't watch them on a standard North American DVD player.
If you're serious about watching less-common British shows, you'll need to buy a region-free DVD player. You will not find these DVD players in normal electronics stores, but once you have one you'll never have to worry about DVD format again.
For those who aren't very comfortable with technology, I'll break this down and describe the options.
- Regular DVD Player – This is the standard DVD player most people in the United States have. It will NOT work for watching DVDs from the UK.
- Region-Free Standard DVD Player – This device will play DVDs from both the US and the UK, but it will not play any kind of Blu-Ray DVDs. However, because most of the British television DVDs you find are printed on regular PAL format DVDs, that doesn't matter. There is really no need to buy a Blu-Ray player unless you already watch a lot of Blu-Ray movies. This Samsung Region-Free DVD Player is a good basic option. For a slightly nicer version, try this Panasonic Region-Free DVD Player.
- Regular Blu-Ray Player – This is a standard Blu-Ray device that will play regular DVDs and Blu-Ray discs in the United States. It will NOT work on UK DVDs.
- Region-Free Blu-Ray Player – If you have the budget to spare and you want to be able to watch all DVDs and all Blu-Ray discs from any part of the world, this is the device you want. This Sony Blu-Ray Player is highly rated.
If you don't need anything fancy and you're on a tight budget, I'd recommend the Samsung player in #2. I use one that's very similar, and it has never failed me. For a one-time investment of $30-60, you'll be able to watch all the UK DVDs your little heart desires – and if you need some ideas to get you started, check out our Big Lists of British TV Shows.