New ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office tells the shocking real-life story of the Post Office scandal, which saw hundreds of subpostmasters and mistresses being wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a defective IT system.

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The four-part series features an ensemble cast including Toby Jones, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Will Mellor playing the real-life figures who got caught up in the scandal.

Another of the real people whose story is told in the drama is Jo Hamilton, a former subpostmistress who was convicted due to a shortfall showing on her system, but later got her conviction quashed.

Read on for everything you need to know about Jo Hamilton, as depicted in Mr Bates vs The Post Office, including who plays her in the series.

Who is Jo Hamilton and what happened to her?

Monica Dolan as Jo Hamilton in Mr Bates vs the Post Office on the phone
Monica Dolan as Jo Hamilton in Mr Bates vs The Post Office. ITV Studios/ITV

Jo Hamilton is a 66-year-old former subpostmistress who, after working in different jobs throughout her life, worked for the Post Office when running a village shop in South Warnborough, Hampshire.

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She started working at her branch in 2001, before being appointed as subpostmistress in 2003.

When issues began with the Horizon system, and it started showing shortfalls on her account, Hamilton believed she had made a mistake and started paying it off from her own pocket.

During this time, she remortgaged her house twice and ended up in debt, but felt unable to tell her family.

When her shortfall rose to £10,000 in 2006, she was fired from her job, and eventually charged with theft of £36,000.

She appeared in court in February 2008, and villagers supported her and gave character witnesses. In a plea bargain, she accepted a lesser charge of false accounting, agreed to pay back the money and was sentenced to a community order.

She later had to sell her shop and found work as a cleaner, which she still does now.

After meeting Alan Bates at a meeting of postmasters and mistresses fighting for justice in November 2009, they became close friends and an inquiry eventually began.

When it became clear that Horizon was faulty, her conviction was quashed in 2021, with villagers organising a surprise party for her when she came home from receiving the news.

She still campaigns on behalf of other subpostmasters and mistresses who were convicted in relation to the scandal.

Who plays Jo Hamilton in Mr Bates vs The Post Office?

Monica Dolan and Jo Hamilton stood together on the red carpet
Monica Dolan and Jo Hamilton. ITV Studios/ITV

Jo Hamilton is played in Mr Bates vs The Post Office by Monica Dolan.

Dolan's film appearances have included roles in Sightseers, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Kick-Ass 2, Pride, Eye in the Sky, Cyrano and Empire of Light.

Meanwhile, she has appeared in TV shows including Call the Midwife, Wolf Hall, Death in Paradise, Strike, Inside No. 9, A Very English Scandal, Hang Ups, Vanity Fair, W1A, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, Black Mirror and The Change.

Dolan said of meeting the real Jo Hamilton: "She's extremely warm. I think she was one of the few that did set visits, and by the time it came to lunch and I was chatting to her, she had talked to absolutely everyone. She's very gregarious and a great animal lover, the sort of person you feel really safe with.

"Talking to her now, there's something about her that doesn't seem to have changed: she's still got a really, really positive outlook. Somehow, she still sees the best in people."

Dolan also revealed how she got into character as Hamilton, explaining: "I was very, very lucky with Jo because she was extremely approachable from very early on. It was just basic things like, 'What colour was your hair at this point?' and I could just get in touch with her right away and get loads of photos back.

"I remember there was a point where I thought, 'This is quite delicate. She might not want to do it, but I'll just ask…' And I asked her if she wouldn't mind making me an audio recording of her life story up to the point where we meet her in the script. That was extremely useful and I played it in the car on the way to set every day.

"It not only gave me her life story, but it gave me her voice, so I could practise her accent. People go, 'Playing real people… it must be more difficult.' But actually, if they're alive, you've got them to ask. And if they're not alive, you've possibly got them to read about or see footage of.

"You can look at their body language, see what they were interested in, see how they might behave in private."

Mr Bates vs The Post Office arrives on 1st January at 9pm on ITV and ITVX. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.

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