The ITV drama Mr Bates vs. the Post Office has become the British broadcaster’s biggest new drama in over a decade, beating even the launch of Downton Abbey back in 2010.
The four-part drama series was aired initially in the first week of 2024, and has now reported more than 16.6million streams on the ITVX streaming platform.
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The drama tells the true story of how hundreds of the UK’s Post Office local branch managers were fobbed off by the Post Office national executive when they reported mistakes with their accounting, and were held accountable for the deficits in the figures that ensued. The truth was that faulty software was responsible for the many mistakes, but not before many innocent people had been sacked, made bankrupt and homeless, and convicted of false accounting. The ‘Mr Bates’ of the title was the lead campaigner who battled for 20 years to secure justice for the many victims.
The success of the drama and the uproar that followed has led the UK government to promise swift legislation ensuring those convictions are overturned and compensation paid out to the victims of what has been tagged the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.
The audience figures for the ITV show make it the biggest drama in the UK since the BBC’s Line of Duty sixth season aired in 2021, and the biggest new drama since the BBC’s Bodyguard in 2018. And it is ITV’s biggest drama since Broadchurch in 2017.
The four episodes are the most watched programmes on any channel so far this year.
Mr Bates vs. the Post Office is distributed internationally by ITV Studios.
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