Paul Brand reports on the impact of the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

The wrongful conviction of hundreds of Post Office workers due to faulty software has been one of Britain’s biggest miscarriages of justice. Twenty five years on from the first convictions for theft and fraud, it has taken the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office to ignite mass public interest in the scandal.

The program also speaks to a number of people involved behind the scenes in the Mr Bates Vs The Post Office drama, including Ben Gale and Natasha Bondy from Little Gem Media, who co-produced the series with ITV Studios and Director James Strong (Mr Bates Vs The Post Office / Vigil).

Tonight, Paul Brand reports on the impact of the drama, and asks why has justice for these postal workers taken so long?

Paul meets Jo Hamilton, one of hundreds of subpostmasters who were prosecuted over claims they were stealing from the Post Office and who was portrayed in the drama by Monica Dolan. Jo says: “Nobody expected it to do as well as it has. I think it's struck a chord that we all feel a bit unheard in this country at the moment, nobody listens to you. What they've done to all of us is so wicked.”

We also filmed with Lee Castleton and Will Mellor, who played Lee in the drama. Will says: 

“To be honest, I didn't know much about the post office scandal at all before I got offered the role. It was something that I'd heard people talk about. I'd seen it in the press a little bit, but I couldn't imagine how big it was, uh, until I'd seen the script.”

“Playing the real person is such a responsibility that comes with that. Because you wanna make sure you get it right? And you think they're gonna be watching this.”

“The reaction to me doing this uh is like nothing else. That's all I can say. I've been stopped in the street every day. I'm really, really proud to be involved in it.”

The program also speaks to a number of people involved behind the scenes in the Mr Bates Vs The Post Office drama, including Ben Gale and Natasha Bondy from Little Gem Media, who produced the series and Director James Strong (Mr Bates Vs The Post Office / Vigil). 

James says: “I mean we thought we would raise awareness of the issue. We thought we would help get it to a wider audience. I don't think anybody ever thought within a week it would be being raised in parliament and that something tangible would be happening.” 

This isn’t the first time TV has made such an impact. In 1996, ITV made a drama about Hillsborough. Ian McBride was the co-executive producer. 

“The impact of Hillsborough, the film, was enormous. Its journalism uncovered all sorts of things which had previously been unknown and yet were much later shown to be absolutely true. So what we did, what we set out to do and succeeded beyond our expectations was giving people a voice that had been denied a voice.”

Christopher Eccelstone played Trevor Hicks in the drama, whose two daughters died at Hillsborough on that day. Christoper says “I get very emotional when I talk about the whole thing. I've always believed in the power of television. My impression was that it changed hearts and minds.”

Writer and showrunner Russell T Davis says: “I think part of the reason for this success is that not many of us are postmasters. Not many of us have, have been in this situation. But actually, don't you all feel the system is against you these days.”

Tonight: MR BATES VS THE POST OFFICE: THE DRAMA THAT SHOCKED BRITAIN airs Thursday 25th of January at 8:30pm on ITV1. It is then available on catch up on ITVX.