The star-studded Mr Bates vs The Post Office will be landing on our screens very soon, and features Toby Jones (The Long Shadow) as Alan Bates, one of the wronged postal workers who helped bring the matter to the attention of the wider public.


Speaking about his role in the new drama, Jones admits that he wasn't aware of the severity of the story before doing the drama - but that it is an "appalling" tale.

He said: "I was approached earlier this year by Patrick Spence, the executive producer… He and James [Strong, director] and Gwyneth [Hughes, writer] talked me through the issues that it addresses, which I am ashamed to say I had a scant knowledge of.

"Gwyneth had hewn a drama out of the most extraordinary amount of research. I wanted to do it because it’s an urgent piece of drama; so much TV today is preoccupied with our recent history, rather than what is the actuality."

Jones continued: "In amongst all of the news that we hear daily, it felt like this particular scandal had been hiding in plain sight. I was aware that on occasion, I would hear 'postmasters' mentioned, and truly there is no other explanation for it, to my shame – I hadn’t understood the full severity of the story.

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"I can only assume that it’s partly because when you hear 'Post Office', you take for granted what this institution does."

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Bates is a real-life person and is a former subpostmaster who successfully took the Post Office to the High Court after hundreds of his Post Office colleagues had been wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a defective IT system.

Jones added of the role: "It is shocking, just how appalling this scandal is. When people watch the drama, if we have done our job, it will make them see a senselessness and vindictiveness to this scandal that makes you wonder how on earth it isn’t being spoken about more."

Mr Bates vs The Post Office is written by screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes – whose previous work includes Tom Jones, Honour and Vanity Fair – and is helmed by Broadchurch director James Strong.

The four-part series promises to tell "the story of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history", and is led by Jones but has a cast full of familiar faces that includes Ian Hart (The Responder), Lia Williams (The Capture) and Will Mellor (Coronation Street).

The line-up also includes Clare Calbraith (Grace), Shaun Dooley (It’s a Sin), Amit Shah (Happy Valley), Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), Adam James (Vigil) and Katherine Kelly (Gentleman Jack).

Mr Bates vs The Post Office will air on ITV1 and ITVX. For more, check out our dedicated Drama page or our full TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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