ITV’s real-life drama ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’ reveals pics and release date

Mr Bates vs the Post Office will launch a new year of drama for ITV next month.

The upcoming four-part series tells the story of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

“Hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters and postmistresses were wrongly accused of theft, fraud, and false accounting due to a defective IT system,” explains the official synopsis.

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

Leading the cast of Mr Bates vs the Post Office is Toby Jones, who you’ll recognise from his roles in Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyDetectorists, and Empire of Light.

He’s joined by Lesley Nicol – best known as Mrs Patmore in Downton Abbey – alongside Shaun Dooley (Gentleman Jack), Monica Dolan (The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe), Julie Hesmondhalgh (The Pact), Alex Jennings (Victoria), Ian Hart (The Responder), Lia Williams (The Crown), Will Mellor (Coronation Street), Clare Calbraith (Grace), Amit Shah (Happy Valley), Adam James (Vigil), and Katherine Kelly (Gentleman Jack).

When’s the release date?

Mr Bates vs the Post Office premieres in the UK at 9pm on Monday 1 January 2024 on ITV1.

Episode 2 will follow the next night on Tuesday 2 January, with the third episode on Wednesday 3 January, and the final instalment on Thursday 4 January.

All four episodes will also be available to stream on ITVX.

Mr Bates vs the Post Office: The Real Story will then air after Episode 4 later on the same night at 10.45pm on ITV1.

The one-hour documentary features intimate interviews with key protagonists, clips from the drama, archive footage from the time, and specially shot material of the actual locations to piece together the impact of these appalling events on the Subpostmasters themselves.

“Innocent shopkeepers bullied, shamed and persecuted,” commented writer Gwyneth Hughes, discussing her new drama series.

“A cuddly old national institution revealed as a hotbed of prejudice and injustice. A quarter of a century of suicides, bankruptcies, prison sentences. In Britain. My country. Unbelievable, like all the best true stories,” she recalled.

“In three years working on this one, I have never got over that initial shock of disbelief. To this day, every victimized subpostmaster I meet, every appalling story I hear, makes me squeal with astonishment and rage,” reflects Hughes.

“So was this a depressing and miserable drama to write? No, not at all.

“Because in spite of everything they’ve been through, the victims of the Post Office scandal are not a depressing bunch. They manage to be funny and warm and welcoming even after 25 years of their ordeal.”

We’re hoping to hear next year whether or not there’ll be a third Downton Abbey movie, and Lesley Nicol had better be back as Mrs Patmore if there is another sequel!

The complete Downton Abbey box set is available on DVD on Amazon.