Mr Bates vs the Post Office tells the staggering true story of hundreds of subpostmasters and mistresses working up and down the UK who were falsely accused of theft, fraud and false accounting by their employer following an IT malfunction.


"Many of the wronged workers were prosecuted, some were imprisoned for crimes they never committed and their lives were irreparably damaged by the scandal," said ITV.

Will Mellor plays Lee Castleton, a former subpostmaster from Bridlington, Yorkshire, who was forced to declare himself bankrupt after he was ordered to pay the Post Office more than £300,000 following a court hearing – a figure that had shot up from the initial £20,000 he was accused of stealing, and also included the organisation's legal bill.

"It's unbelievable," Mellor told "Like I said, if it wasn't a true story you'd say it's a bit far-fetched. [Happening] not only to one person but to probably thousands.

"We have 555 [in the drama]. That's what they called those who came together and built up a case. And every one of them was told that they were on their own, that this hadn't happened to anybody else.

More like this

"They tried to make them feel isolated so they didn't feel they had anyone to turn to, that this was just them, which is even worse."

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

Mellor went on to question why the Post Office didn't "just say sorry, you're right, it's a problem with the system, you don't owe us any money".

"They hadn’t taken any money, so that means the Post Office hadn't lost any money," he said. "Why couldn't they just draw a line under it and rectify the problem. Why ram it down their throats and say now you owe us this much, knowing they were innocent?

Read more:

"I don't understand what they got from that. And personally, how you could go home and sleep at night or hug your children knowing you're ruining some other family's life? It's beyond me. That's what I can't get my head around.

"Technology is one thing, but the human element of this is what I can't get my head around. How you could do this to people?"

He added: "I was so angry when I was filming it, and upset. And that helped when I was playing it. I just got into that mindset, and hopefully that comes through."

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.

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.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.