New ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office is set to be one of the channel's biggest series airing in the first week of the new year.


The four-parter, as well as featuring a cast full of stellar acting talent, tells the story of one of the "greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history".

The series chronicles the events that took place between 2000 and 2015, when the Post Office held thousands of its own subpostmasters and postmistresses liable for financial discrepancies thrown up a defective IT system.

They were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting, with the drama diving into the events of 2009 when a group of subpostmasters from across the UK decided to form the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance.

Amit Shah as Jas, Krupa Pattani as Sam, Lesley Nicol as Pam, Ifan Huw Dafydd as Noel, Julie Hesmondhalgh as Suzanne, Toby Jones as Alan Bates, Monica Dolan as Jo, Asif Khan as Mohammad, Will Mellor as Lee and Shaun Dooley as Rudkin in Mr Bates vs The Post Office standing in front of a red background
Mr Bates vs The Post Office. ITV Studios/ITV

Starring as Paula Vennells, the Post Office CEO at the time the scandal erupted, Lia Williams spoke to ITV about the way her character was approached, and how they went about incorporating the written trial transcripts into the drama.

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Williams said: "My understanding is that the writer, Gwyn [Hughes], had to deal with Paula very carefully, because there were lawyers all over it.

"So the part that I played was mainly transcripts, pulled from emails and quotes directly onto the page.

"There was only a certain amount of interpretation I was allowed, and for an actor, that's so difficult - because we don't speak in the same way that we write an email or text. So I had to try and make the written transcript sound as if it belonged in her mouth."

She continued: "On the other hand, I did feel that she kept having to lapse into 'corporate speak' to deal with that fear, because that's all she knew.

"As long as she had facts and figures and numbers in front of her, she was fine. The moment she went off script, as it were, she was struggling."

Speaking about the creative decisions made by bringing this real-life tale to life on screen, executive producer Joe Williams also said: "We did have to be careful. But we were helped by the fact that there have been two High Court judgments, which helped us a lot.

"There's also been a lot of brilliant work done to bring freedom of information requests out that give us small glimpses into what was going on in the Post Office boardroom — the scenes that you see in the drama that feature those are often drawn from FOI requests of redacted minutes that we've received.

"A lot more will come out as the Public Inquiry happens, but those were our basis, so that we felt we were on a solid grounding."

In 2020, Tim Parker, then-chairman of the Post Office, said he was "sincerely sorry" on behalf of the company for its "historical failings".

"Post Office is resetting its relationship with postmasters with reforms that prevent such past events ever happening again," he added.

As well as Williams starring in the new series, the cast is led by Toby Jones, Monica Dolan, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lia Williams and Alex Jennings.

Other cast members also include Ian Hart, Katherine Kelly, Shaun Dooley, Will Mellor, Clare Calbraith, Lesley Nicol, Amit Shah and Adam James.

Mr Bates vs The Post Office will air at 9pm on ITV1 across three nights beginning on Monday 1st January.

For more, check out our dedicated Drama page or our full TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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