Featuring an excellent ensemble cast led by the award-winning Toby Jones, the 2024 miniseries became an overnight sensation as it depicted the shocking true story of the Post Office Scandal: one of the greatest miscarriages of British justice. Below, we'll show you how to watch "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" in full from anywhere with a VPN — and potentially for FREE.
Directed by James Strong, "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" charted the impact of the Post Office Scandal after a glitchy accounting system led to hundreds of employees being prosecuted for fraud, theft, and false accounting.
Toby Jones starred as Alan Bates – the man who spearheaded the charge for justice, compensation, and accountability – alongside Monica Dolan, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Will Mellor. Lia Williams, meanwhile, played Paula Vennells: the Post Office CEO who denied the company’s culpability as hundreds of innocent people suffered and even took their own lives.
The four-part series aired over four nights at the very start of 2024, becoming an intimidate hit with viewers and ITV's most watched new drama in over a decade, with the show even credited with spurring the government in to action, with a new law introduced following the broadcast that promised to exonerate and properly compensate the wrongfully convicted.
This shocking true story is one of the must-see TV events of the year and below we have all the info you need to watch "Mr Bates vs the Post Office" online – and stream the unmissable ITV miniseries from anywhere in the world.
How to watch 'Mr Bates vs The Post Office' online FREE
"Mr Bates vs The Post Office" consists of four episodes which ran on ITV in early January.
You can now stream all episodes on-demand via ITVX. It’s FREE to watch and contains thousands of great TV shows and movies. However, you will need a valid TV license to stream content live.
Not in the U.K. right now? Don't worry — you can watch from anywhere with one of the best VPN services such as ExpressVPN. Read on and we'll explain how to watch Mr Bates vs the Post Office online using a VPN.
How to watch 'Mr Bates vs The Post Office' with a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, makes it look as if you're surfing the web from your home country, rather than the country you're in. That means you can access the streaming services you normally watch, even when you're travelling or don't live in the service's "home" country to begin with.
Speed, security and simplicity make ExpressVPN our favorite VPN service. In our testing, we were impressed by its fast connection times and by its ability to access more than 3,000 services in 160 locations across 94 countries. Plus, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Using a VPN is incredibly simple.
1. Install the VPN of your choice. As we've said, ExpressVPN is our favorite.
2. Choose the location you wish to connect to in the VPN app. For instance if you're in the U.S. and want to view a U.K. service, you'd select U.K. from the list.
3. Sit back and enjoy the action. Head to ITVX or another service and watch the show.
How to watch 'Mr Bates vs The Post Office' around the world
How to watch Mr Bates vs The Post Office online in the U.S.
U.S. viewers still have a little while to wait, but "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" will air for FREE as part of PBS' 'Materpiece' strand from April 7 at 9pm ET. It will also be available to stream on the PBS App and the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel on the same date.
If you're a Brit currently abroad in the U.S., in the meantime you could still connect to ITVX and watch "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" today. Simply download a VPN such as ExpressVPN and you’ll be able to access your usual streaming services.
How to watch Mr Bates vs The Post Office online in the U.K.
"Mr Bates vs The Post Office" aired daily on ITV1 in January. All episodes and the accompanying documentary, "Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The Real Story", are available on ITVX, ITV’s FREE on-demand service. It’s worth noting, however, that a valid TV license is required to watch live programming.
Of course, Brits abroad can use a VPN to tune in to the streamer just as they would back home.
How to watch Mr Bates vs The Post Office online in Canada
Canada is the same story as the U.S. with "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" arriving for FREE on PBS on April 7. Again, you'll be able to stream the show in the Great North on the PBS App and the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel.
If you're traveling out of the country, you might want to take this opportunity to download a VPN service, such as ExpressVPN, so that you can log into the same services you’ enjoy back home.
How to watch Mr Bates vs The Post Office online in Australia
Good news for Australian viewers as all episodes of "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" are available to stream for FREE right now on the 7plus streaming service. If you prefer to watch on linear TV, the first two episodes go out tonight, February 14 at 8.55pm AEDT on Channel 7 with the concluding episodes at the same time next Wednesday.
As mentioned above, if you’re away from home, a VPN like ExpressVPN will let you connect to your usual streaming service from anywhere in the world.
Mr Bates vs The Post Office cast
- Toby Jones as Alan Bates
- Monica Dolan as Jo Hamilton
- Julie Hesmondhalgh as Suzanne Sercombe
- Alex Jennings as James Arbuthnot
- Ian Hart as Bob Rutherford
- Lia Williams as Paula Vennells
- Will Mellor as Lee Castleton
- Clare Calbraith as Gina Griffiths
- Shaun Dooley as Michael Rudkin
- Amit Shah as Jas Singh
- Lesley Nicol as Pam Stubbs
- Adam James as Patrick Green QC
- Katherine Kelly as Angela van Den Bogerd
- Pip Torrens as Mr Justice Fraser
- Amy Nuttall as Lisa Castleton
- Ifan Huw Dafydd as Noel Thomas
- John Hollingworth as James Hartley
- Nadhim Zahawi as himself
Mr Bates vs The Post Office episode schedule
- Mr Bates vs the Post Office episode 1 – Monday, Jan. 1, 2024
- Mr Bates vs the Post Office episode 2 – Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024
- Mr Bates vs the Post Office episode 3 – Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024
- Mr Bates vs the Post Office episode 4 – Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024
Mr Bates vs The Post Office trailer
Before you check out how to watch Mr Bates vs The Post Office online, take a look at the trailer below:
Q & A with the real Alan Bates
Q: How did your story come to be told as a TV series?
A: Following the judgements and the court findings about how the Post Office had lied and covered up the true facts about all the problems with its Horizon system there was quite a lot of publicity. A number of people from different production teams began to contact me. Natasha [Bondy] at Little Gem approached me and the series and documentary came from there.
Q: And yet it was a story that was overlooked for so long.
A: It was. The biggest problem with all of this is that the Post Office decided to take an approach of utter denial about everything, an approach which was effectively a threat to sue anyone who dared say otherwise. Over the years we've gone through a whole host of other processes but the Post Office just kept on assuring everyone that everything was fine and the system was robust and there were no problems with it.
Q: Why do you think the Post Office fought you so obstinately? What motivated them?
A: I put it down to arrogance and ignorance with a side order of incompetence. They got paid the big bucks with enormous bonuses to make appalling decisions, and were in control, and did what they wanted, as government used to take the stance that the Post Office was run independent of government. Just before I was terminated, I recall a Post Office Senior coming to see me. Over the years I’d written numerous letters about the problems with the system and asking for assistance.
He just turned around to me and said, ‘We've got more important things to do than answer your letters.’ It was typical of the Post Office’s arrogance. And then they terminated my contract giving me 3 months’ notice, refusing to give me a reason, and walked off with our investment simply because they could do that, because we all know what happens if you try and sue them individually – you don’t stand an earthly.
Q: What for you would be the right end to the story?
A: For me to try and draw a line under my involvement will be when the initial 555, the group that brought the court action, have received the financial redress due to them.
That's a process that is underway now, and in theory, should be finished by August of next year. You will never be able to repay people for what they've gone through and you will never be able to give them back all those years of suffering that they've had to endure. But hopefully, it might alleviate some of their problems going forward.
Another issue, and my current source of campaigning, is around the mental anguish of the families. At the moment the government hasn’t taken that on board. These families need professional mental health assessments and support, not just financially but in other ways as well. I’ve been trying to push this with ministers and I just get back civil servants’ letters, as you might imagine. That's high on my campaign list at the moment as well as trying to bring the real guilty in all of this to account for what they have done.
Q: What do you hope this drama might achieve?
A: First, is to expose the truth behind what the Post Office has done and that has always been the aim of the group. The overturning of the convictions and the compensation have followed that, but from the outset the campaign was always about exposing the truth.
Then there’s overturning the convictions. You’ve probably heard that there were something like 700 people who have convictions, and only about 90 or so have been to the Court of Appeal and had them overturned. Well, that 700 is actually closer to 1000 if you include Northern Ireland and Scotland, which until recently somehow the government seemed to forget to include in their figures. We need more of those people to come forward, because there are schemes available now where they can have their cases looked at again by the court, and there is also legal support available for them, so it won't cost them anything to have their cases reviewed and with success would be eligible for receiving financial redress. Hopefully the drama will highlight what went on and we all hope will bring some of these people forward again.
Q & A with actor Toby Jones
Q: How did you come to be cast?
A: I was approached earlier this year by Patrick Spence, the Executive Producer, who I had worked with previously on Marvellous (BBC). I was already predisposed to it because Patrick is such a fantastic producer. He and James [Strong, Director] and Gwyneth [Hughes, Writer] talked me through the issues that it addresses, which I am ashamed to say I had a scant knowledge of. Gwyneth had hewn a drama out of the most extraordinary amount of research. I wanted to do it because it’s an urgent piece of drama, so much TV today is preoccupied with our recent history, rather than what is the actuality.
Q: What contact did you have with the real Alan Bates?
A: One of the brilliant features of this story is that it features characters from the whole of the United Kingdom; one of the pleasures of it will be recognising how multicultural and how diverse the population of subpostmasters are. I wanted to represent Alan properly in that context.
I’m not playing Alan Bates. I’m playing Gwyneth Hughes’ version of Alan Bates’. I had said to Alan, ‘I’m not going to imitate you, but I need to be you enough to differentiate you, to show where you’re from and to root you in a specific context’. This was because Alan isn’t metropolitan like me, or from the south. He’s originally from Liverpool and has been living in Wales for some time. So, I talked to him about his roots, his work, the main events of his life, his routines. Secretly, I was trying to work out what drove him on, but he’s remarkably adept at obfuscating, at not giving any clues as to how he has come to do what he’s done. It’s a genuine humility that he has and there is something mysterious about that in this day and age.
Q: What did it make you feel about the Post Office and their motivation in victimising their own staff?
A: I kept thinking, ‘What are they defending here?’ There's this corporate culture that seems to have evolved, that in part runs on fear and shuffling problems up to the next level, people not making decisions and not taking responsibility. This is a story of a situation like that. There is something about the way that our culture works now, which seems much more hierarchical and less horizontally-based in terms of who takes responsibility.
And it remains mysterious to me but to a certain extent, people are insulated against the cruel consequences of what happens when something like this takes place.
Q: And why is a drama like this important in a cultural sense?
A: 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.
And yet the hero wins. So in a way this is an ancient story, and it's a very uplifting story. It shows that people can talk to each other, and unite and take action. I'm very proud and relieved that they came to me because I'm honoured to have anything to do with Alan Bates. Anyone who talks about it is honoured to have had dealings with him. He's an extraordinary man.
Q & A with (actor) Lia Williams
Q: Who are you playing in Mr Bates vs The Post Office?
A: I play Paula Vennells, who was the CEO of the Post Office at the time the scandal erupted. She was the woman who was brought on board to turn the Post Office around, into a multi-million-pound business.
Q: What do we know about her backstory and her character?
A: It's difficult because people who worked with her are very guarded — difficult to get information from anybody about Paula. But my understanding is that she comes from a corporate background and she was extremely successful in that field because of her very corporate mind. That's why she was brought in for this job. The Post Office was struggling at the time and she very successfully turned it around. “She’s a fascinating character because she was an ordained minister (she's left now), married with two boys, I believe. She loved music, exercise, she was a runner and a cyclist. And my understanding of her is that she's very bright. I tried to portray her with ambiguity, because I felt that that best served the script and the piece.
It leaves the audience to decide what they think of her, rather than me ramming something down their throat. It was very important that I didn't present her as some evil monster when I don't truly know who she is or what was going on behind closed doors. We only know that she lost control of a situation that she had no idea how to manage. It was beyond her.
Q: Why do you think she continued to defend the Post Office brand against its own staff, even as it became apparent that they had been horribly wronged?
A: She was brought in by the Government to turn the Post Office around, and to my mind she was ambitious to do that and wanted to please the people that had put her there. I just think she became blinkered. I cannot see anywhere that she was a bad person, I just think the situation became horrendous and beyond her control and she probably got terrified and didn't know how to handle it. And then it started to build, and it became out of control. And then I think she buried her head in the sand. She clearly got it horribly wrong. And she's going to have to explain that quite soon, one way or another.
Q: What were you most shocked to learn?
A: One of the things that shocked me — and I think Toby Jones and the other cast who were playing subpostmasters have done this absolutely beautifully — is that the people in these post offices around the country were suddenly expected to take on a new computer system that they had no idea about. There was no proper tuition, no proper learning. They were just expected to manage a brand-new system that was pretty high tech, and run their post office from it. That baffled me: I can't get my head around how that could have happened. And then even once it had happened they weren't given the real support they needed when they didn't understand it, or when it started going wrong and started glitching. Money started disappearing, and yet there was no proper support anywhere for them. And that, to me, seems astonishing.
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Daniel Pateman has been a freelance writer since 2018. He currently works across a range of brands including TechRadar, T3, GamesRadar, What Hi-Fi? and CinemaBlend, where he regularly pens How To Watch articles about where our readers can stream the latest new movies and TV shows, as well as producing detailed guides on the best streaming services, from Disney Plus to Netflix. He received a first-class degree in Humanities and Media in 2013 from Birkbeck University and later an MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture. In addition to his work for Future's websites, Daniel writes across the broad spectrum of arts topics – including photography, sculpture, painting, film – and has been published in The Brooklyn Rail and Eyeline magazine, among others.
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