The Handmaid’s Tale was the must-see show of 2017, a shockingly relevant, harrowingly bleak and relentlessly gripping adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s all-too-prescient book (read our reviews of Season 1 here). But with such a huge delay in the show’s broadcast on British shores – and another wait for Season 2 – the question on everyone’s lips was the same: where can I watch The Handmaid’s Tale online legally in the UK?
The answer originally came in the form of Channel 4, which finally stepped in to snap up the exclusive rights to the programme. Season 2 already has a confirmed UK air date and will again premiere on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday 20th May, with episodes airing weekly – and available to catch up with on-demand for free after its broadcast.
However, as with all catch-up services, episodes expire after a few weeks, which means that if you missed Season 1 last time around, you were screwed. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.
What is The Handmaid’s Tale?
The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopian Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birth rate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s (Joseph Fiennes) household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred navigates between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.
“This may not seem ordinary to you now. But it will. After time, this will become ordinary.” It’s hard to believe the words of Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), as she introduces new recruits to Gilead, but this is a reality that’s depressingly, disturbingly ordinary, and the terror lies in just how quickly you do get immersed in such a grim existence.
Where can I watch it online legally in the UK?
A Hulu production, The Handmaid’s Tale is only available to stream in the UK, which makes its UK TV home of Channel 4 seem a little old-fashioned. On the plus side, the broadcaster’s ad-supported catch-up platform All 4 is free, so you can watch Season 2 weekly from Sunday 20th May without paying a penny, either live at 9pm or anytime you like on-demand.
Season 1 is not on All 4, which meant that you previously had to buy and download the show as a box set from pay-per-view platforms, such as iTunes and Google Play. Now, though, Sky has scooped up the exclusive streaming rights to the show, which means you can binge the whole of Season 1 on Sky Box Sets.
Don’t have Sky? You can also stream The Handmaid’s Tale on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription. That subscription also includes live and on-demand streaming access to FOX UK (home of Legion and The Walking Dead), Sky 1 (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl) and Sky Atlantic (Billions, Westworld). For new subscribers, a 7-day free trial is available, which means you can get through the whole thing in a weekend and still not pay a penny.
Hit the button below to start streaming – or read on below for a breakdown of how to watch each season online.
NOW TV (£7.99 a month)
iTunes (buy and download)
Amazon Instant Video (buy and download)
All 4 (Free) – from 20th May