North Wales locations provide stunning backdrop for ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office
A dramatic retelling of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history had much of its principle filming in Wales, with Llandudno’s seafront providing just one incredible backdrop for the powerful new ITV drama.
Mr Bates vs the Post Office tells the story of the infamous British Post Office scandal. At the time, hundreds of innocent subpostmasters and postmistresses were wrongly accused of theft, fraud, and false accounting due to a defective IT system.
Many of the wronged workers were prosecuted, some were imprisoned for crimes they never committed, and their lives were irreparably damaged by the scandal.
Toby Jones, Monica Dolan, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lia Williams, Alex Jennings, Ian Hart, Katherine Kelly, Shaun Dooley, Will Mellor, Clare Calbraith, Lesley Nicol, Amit Shah, and Adam James star in the drama, one of ITV’s New Year highlights, written by acclaimed screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes (Tom Jones, Honour, Vanity Fair) and produced by ITV Studios and Little Gem.
The series is directed by James Strong (Broadchurch, Crime, Vigil) and produced by Chris Clough (World On Fire, The Missing).
Following the landmark Court of Appeal decision to overturn their criminal convictions, dozens of former sub postmasters and postmistresses have been exonerated on all counts as they battled to finally clear their names. They fought for over 20 years, finally proving their innocence and sealing a resounding victory, but all involved believe the fight is not over yet, not by a long way.
Between 2000 and 2015, the Post Office held thousands of its own sub postmasters and postmistresses liable for financial discrepancies thrown up by Horizon, its hugely expensive but unreliable computerized accounting system.
Despite warnings that the system was flawed, the Post Office relentlessly pursued the sub postmasters and postmistresses, telling many of them they were the only ones having problems with Horizon.
Of those affected by the faulty IT system, 736 were prosecuted, hundreds more lost livelihoods, homes, and life savings because they paid back money the Post Office claimed was missing.
Several went to prison, some while pregnant or with young children, and many were shunned by their communities. Some have since died before they could find any justice.
The drama narrates how in 2009, a group of sub postmasters from across the UK decided enough was enough and formed the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance.
Alan Bates said: “Over the years a lot of words have been written about how lives have been wrecked by an out of control government organisation, however they have never come close to expressing the true horrors that have been inflicted on people. I think this drama is the first time anything has come close to getting across the suffering many of the victims have had to cope with.”
Lead actor, Toby Jones said: “So what’s the point of this drama? The point of this drama at the moment is to bring this back onto the agenda quickly. Subpostmasters and their families are traumatised and terrified and they need to come out and make their voices heard. And also, we as audiences and participants need to put pressure on the Post Office via our MPs to make sure this gets sorted once and for all. It has taken so long to get this far but there is still some way to go.”
He continued: “On a cultural front, you make drama like this because it’s about people’s relationship with their community. Often people feel isolated or are atomized: here is a story about people coming together. The oldest Greek dramas are about a chorus uniting behind a cause, and a hero emerging from among them and taking on forces that appear to be far stronger and more anonymous and immutable.”
Episode one of Mr Bates vs the Post Office was first shown on ITV1 on 1 January 2023 and is now available to watch in full on ITVX. Episode three will be broadcast from 9pm tonight (3 January) with the final episode broadcasting tomorrow (4 January) at the same time.
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