Toby Jones has spoken of his "great shock" that tireless campaigner Alan Bates, the subject of ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, doesn't feel "worthy of being heroic".


The four-part series tells the true story of the Post Office scandal, in which numerous subpostmasters were wrongly accused of fraud and theft over accounting issues caused by a faulty IT system named Horizon.

Detectorists star Jones plays Alan Bates in the hard-hitting series, and had the opportunity to meet the man himself prior to filming – although he was surprised by the extent to which he downplayed his exceptional work and character.

In an interview with BAFTA, Jones explained: "Alan is quite an extraordinary man who presents as one of the most ordinary people you can meet. Indeed, that's true of a lot of the subpostmasters.

"So, when you come to play someone like that, I needed to find out who he was, what made him do this extraordinary thing and unite a thousand people in one place and take on the might of the corporate Post Office."

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He continued: "And that was a great shock, because he was quite clear that – although he was totally up for the drama because it drew attention to the struggle – he felt that he himself wasn't worthy of being heroic, because there was nothing unusual about him.

"He wasn't a great source of material - he was very friendly and warm, but he said, 'The thing is, I'm not a very emotional guy.'"

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

However, while Jones described Mr Bates as "extremely modest", his associates and fellow campaigners were very quick to sing his praises in the strongest terms.

He added: "I went to chat to other people who knew him, and they said Alan Bates is one of the smartest and most inspirational people they'd ever met. There is a paradox about him.

"All of my dealings with him have been great. They haven't helped me play him very much, but they've been great."

Watch the full interview with Jones and the rest of the Mr Bates vs The Post Office cast below, including Lia Williams (who plays former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells) and Monica Dolan (wrongly accused Jo Hamilton).

Mr Bates vs The Post Office continues tonight at 9pm on ITV1. Watch all episodes now on 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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