ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office spotlights the harrowing true story of numerous subpostmasters from up and down the UK who were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting following an IT malfunction.


Will Mellor (Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Coronation Street) plays Lee Castleton in the four-part series, a subpostmaster from Bridlington, Yorkshire, who was taken to court by the Post Office.

The actor told that just before he started filming, he asked to meet the man he was portraying.

"He was a bit hesitant coming forward," he said. "To go through what they went through, I think it might have been a bit hard for him to go back and revisit it and be a part of it. And I didn't want to force the issue. The last thing I wanted to do was make things harder for him, so I learned about him as much as I could."

But eventually, the pair did come face to face during a screening for the drama.

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"On the way in I had a coffee and my suitcase in my hands and somebody opened the door for me and it was Lee Castleton," he said.

"And he went, 'Will, I'm Lee.' And I put the coffee and my case down and we hugged it out and we both got really emotional, I think because I know, because I played him, what he's been through, and he knows I know what he went through, and I emotionally went through a bit of it myself doing it for him.

"So we both had a moment and it was amazing, it really was. And I just said, 'I hope I've done you proud mate.' And he said he was over the moon when he heard I was playing him, and he's messaged me since saying he's watched it and he was overwhelmed with how much he enjoyed it, and he thanked me for what I did."

Mellor added: "I can't ask for any more praise. I'm over the moon that he's happy, because that's what you want."

Will Mellor as Lee Castleton, sat down with other people
Will Mellor as Lee Castleton. ITV

He went on to say that he was "so angry" and "upset" when filming the drama, a story he described as "unbelievable".

"If it wasn't true, you'd say it's a bit far-fetched," he said, while also questioning 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".

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"They hadn’t taken any money, so that means the Post Office hadn't lost any money," he added. "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?

"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?"

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 is available to watch now on ITVX. For more, check out our dedicated Drama page or our full TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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