The four-part ITV drama series tells the tale of Alan Bates, a former subpostmaster who lost his Post Office in north Wales after being accused of stealing.
Alan spent years searching down and then dealing with hundreds of people who had been touched by the affair, which had previously been labelled one of the UK’s ‘worst miscarriages of justice’.
Over the course of nearly two decades, the Post Office prosecuted 700 employees for theft, fraudulent accounting, and fraud, with some being imprisoned.
Four of the 3,500 people impacted committed suicide while seeking to clear their identities.
Lee Castleton, who acquired a post office in Bridlington in 2003, was one of many who suffered.
Within a year, however, massive inconsistencies began to show in his branch accounts.
He contacted the hotline 91 times, asking for assistance, believing the Horizon computer system was to blame.
By March 2004, the unexplained losses had reached £25,000, and he was suspended and forced to restore the money following an audit.
Knowing he’d done nothing illegal, he likewise declined, but the Post Office took him to the High Court, where he had to represent himself.
When he lost his lawsuit, the Post Office pursued him for £321,000 in legal fees, which bankrupted him.
Will, well known for his appearances in Hollyoaks, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, EastEnders, and Broadchurch, plays him in the series.
He also participated on Strictly last year.
Will asked to see Lee just before the series began filming, but was told that the character he was playing was too scared to communicate.
‘He was a bit hesitant coming forward. To go through what they went through, I think it might have been a bit hard for him to go back and revisit it and be a part of it. And I didn’t want to force the issue. The last thing I wanted to do was make things harder for him, so I learned about him as much as I could,’ he told Radio Times.
But the pair eventually did come face to face during a screening for the drama.
‘On the way in I had a coffee and my suitcase in my hands, and somebody opened the door for me and it was Lee Castleton,’ he continued.
‘And he went, “Will, I’m Lee”. And I put the coffee and my case down and we hugged it out and we both got really emotional, I think because I know, because I played him, what he’s been through, and he knows I know what he went through, and I emotionally went through a bit of it myself doing it for him.’
He added: ‘So we both had a moment, and it was amazing, it really was. And I just said, “I hope I’ve done you proud mate”. And he said he was over the moon when he heard I was playing him, and he’s messaged me since saying he’s watched it and he was overwhelmed with how much he enjoyed it, and he thanked me for what I did.’
Will went on to say he was ‘over the moon’ Lee was happy with his portrayal.
The actor, on the other hand, stated that he was’so outraged and horrified’ over how ordinary people were treated.
He questioned why the Post Office couldn’t ‘put a line under it and address the situation’ knowing that their personnel were blameless.
Tim Parker, then-chairman of the Post Office, expressed’sincerely sorry’ on behalf of the corporation for its ‘historical errors’ in 2021.
‘Post Office is resetting its relationship with postmasters with reforms that prevent such past events ever happening again,’ he added.
Mr Bates vs the Post Office continues tonight at 9pm on ITV1. Also airing on January 4 is Mr Bates vs the Post Office: The Real Story at 10.45pm on ITV1.
Source My Celebrity Life.