TV Review: Mr Bates vs The Post Office – 8/10

‘Yes, compensation. Yes, justice. But without the truth, we can’t do either of those…’

I often joke about how much of my life has been wasted watching films and TV shows, and let’s not forget that I have seen all nine Texas Chainsaw movies, but we must not lose sight of the ability of pop culture to change the world. If you think that’s hyperbolic, check out the impact that ITV’s Mr Bates vs The Post Office has had and think again…

Charting the disgraceful national scandal that was the faulty Horizon computer system used by post office staff throughout the 2000s, Mr Bates vs The Post Office sees Toby Jones as the eponymous hero Alan Bates in his long quest to clear the names of those cheated by the system. The fact that it has taken a television drama for those involved to find true justice is utterly grotesque but it is a testament to the power of television (and the fecklessness of those in power).

More than a vehicle for social justice, Gwyneth Hughes’ drama is compelling and captivating television that boasts an excellent central performance from Jones but also strong turns from Monica Dolan, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Will Mellor and many others. The ensemble cast brings this terrible injustice to light – the kind of TV show that will leave you seething and infuriated throughout its four-episode run.

I worked in a local post office for around six months and I have seen first-hand how hard sub-postmasters and postmistresses work and the service they provide for their local communities. It can be a thankless task and the fact that this drama helped to clear the names of so many of these hardy souls will be its lasting legacy. Remember that the next time someone tells you to stop watching TV and get a real job.