Benjamin Franklin – Ken Burns' latest documentary for PBS – takes a warts and all look at the life and times of the Founding Father, ground-breaking inventor and occasional slave owner. US viewers can watch and stream Benjamin Franklin on their PBS station. Travelling abroad from the US this week? Make sure you know how to watch a Benjamin Franklin live stream from wherever you are with a VPN. (opens in new tab)
Ken Burns's two-part, four-hour documentary explores the remarkable life of "one of the 18th century's most consequential and compelling personalities" – a man who found time to unlock the mystery of electricity, create the first public library and set up the United States. Not a bad morning's work.
"His story is one of hope, with a faith in the common man. But his shortcomings are also a reminder of this country’s failure to address slavery at the time of its founding and the racial divisions that continue to impact our country today," noted Burns, who is famous for documenting the American experience in films such as Baseball and The Vietnam War.
Benjamin Franklin airs in two parts on PBS (opens in new tab) on 4th and 5th April. Make sure you know how to watch Benjamin Franklin live stream from anywhere. See below.
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Watch Benjamin Franklin live stream for free
PBS is available in the US only. Travelling outside the States? Simply use a VPN to access PBS from wherever you are (opens in new tab). Instructions below...
Watch Benjamin Franklin from overseas using a VPN
Even if you have a PBS account, you won't be able to access Benjamin Franklin when outside the US. The service will know your location based on your IP address, and will automatically block your access.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps you get around this obstacle. It creates a private connection between your device and the internet. There are lots of VPNs to choose from, but we think ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) is one of the very best...
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How to use a VPN
Using a VPN is incredibly simple.
1. Install the VPN of your choice. ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) is the one we recommend.
2. Open up the VPN app and choose the location of the service you wish to access. For Benjamin Franklin, you may wish to choose 'US' for PBS.
If, for whatever reason, you can't get it working, do remember that you have the comfort of a 30-day money back guarantee with ExpressVPN (opens in new tab). You could also try NordVPN (opens in new tab), which also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, and Surfshark (opens in new tab) which offers 24 hour assistance.
Can you watch Benjamin Franklin in the UK?
No. Or rather, not yet.
Ken Burns' documentaries tend to air on the BBC so we'd expect to see Benjamin Franklin appear alongside the likes of Hemingway, which is currently still available on BBC iPlayer (opens in new tab), later this year. There's no official confirmation, though.
Remember: US viewers who are outside the US can watch Benjamin Franklin free of charge on PBS right now using a VPN (opens in new tab). Details just above.
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Benjamin Franklin official trailer
Benjamin Franklin episode guide
Benjamin Franklin – two part, four hour documentary by Ken Burns
Episode 1: Join or Die – airs 4th April 2022 (8pm ET)
Leaving behind his Boston childhood, Benjamin Franklin reinvents himself in Philadelphia where he builds a printing empire and a new life with his wife, Deborah. Turning to science, Franklin's lightning rod and experiments in electricity earn him worldwide fame. After entering politics, he spends years in London trying to keep Britain and America together as his own family starts to come apart.
Episode 2: An American – airs 5th April 2022 (8pm ET)
Benjamin Franklin leaves London and returns to wartime Philadelphia where he joins Congress and helps Thomas Jefferson craft the Declaration of Independence. In Paris, he wins French support for the American Revolution then negotiates a peace treaty with Britain. He spends his last years in the new United States, working on the Constitution and unsuccessfully promoting the abolition of slavery.