Our latest drama ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’ has been re-igniting a national conversation and generating widespread public outrage, demonstrating ITV’s unique ability to kickstart conversations and shape culture.

The Horizon post office scandal first hit the news in 2016 with the subsequent investigation making headlines once again in 2020. Over three years on, the four episodes of the drama are the most watched programmes on any channel so far this year and ITV’s biggest new drama in over a decade, now averaging 13.1 million viewers. 

The unwavering success of Mr Bates vs. The Post Office demonstrates the undeniable power of TV, particularly public service broadcasting. Aside from it being a ratings hit, dramatising the story with such a high calibre of British actors has reignited the campaign for justice nearly 25 years on, for a group of ordinary people - and the entire nation is behind them. Kevin Lygo, Managing Director, Media & Entertainment ITV

So why has it made such an impact now?

Simon Daglish, Deputy Managing Director,  ITV Commercial puts it down to two important things: A strong emotional connection with a mass audience and the power of a trusted medium.

"These two elements have made the impact of Mr Bates vs The Post Office seismic. Since the programme's launch, it has been on the front page of every national newspaper, topping news bulletins and websites as The Post Office enquiry has been catapulted into both public consciousness and to the top of the news and political agenda." 

It was only when a linear TV drama was broadcast that anyone really sat up and noticed this story. It’s a very timely reminder to our industry of the enduring, unique power of television. Memorable storytelling broadcast to an attentive, mass audience in a trusted, emotionally engaging environment delivers unrivalled effectiveness – these are also the critical ingredients for great advertising. In addition, the story has been amplified by our streaming service ITVX as well as social media, search, TV, radio and print news. Another reminder of the hidden value of TV at driving the performance of an advertiser’s other media choices. Kelly Williams, Managing Director, ITV Commercial



The speaker of the House of Commons thanked ITV and acknowledged its important role as a public service broadcaster “because it has certainly made the country aware of this absolute scandal against innocent people”.

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video time: video title: Mr Bates vs The Post Office: House of Commons

As a result of the drama we are seeing a cultural ripple effect

500% Google searches for “The Post Office” rose by 500% to their highest ever level.

50 Since broadcast of the drama 50 new potential victims have contacted lawyers. 

Legislation The government have put forward a new law to exonerate and compensate the sub-postmasters.

300,000 Signatures for the petition asking for increased compensation for victims increased from 15,000 to a staggering 300,000.

Real change Paula Vennells, the former Post Office Chief Executive, has handed back her CBE.

1.43 Billion There have been 1.43 Billion impressions as a result of over 194,000 mentions of the scandal across social media, the news, and broadcasters.

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Finally, at the heart of the Post Office scandal is the idea that a black box, algorithmic piece of software was right and the trusted, professional humans were wrong. Possibly something else for parts of our industry to reflect on. Kelly Williams, Managing Director, ITV Commercial

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