Julie Hesmondhalgh, who stars in Mr Bates vs The Post Office, said the ITV drama “cuts through the facts and figures and the data” to put “real people into people’s living rooms”.

The show, detailing how hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters and postmistresses were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a defective IT system, has prompted public outrage and calls for the former Post Office boss to lose her CBE.

The Government is holding crunch talks with judges on expediting clearing the names of hundreds of sub-postmasters who were wrongfully convicted.

Former Coronation Street star Hesmondhalgh, who plays Suzanne Sercombe, the partner of subpostmaster Alan Bates, played by Toby Jones, said the public reaction has been “absolutely amazing”

The 53-year-old, from Accrington, told a national news programme: “We’re all thrilled beyond anything that we can really properly express because I think what drama can do is cut through the facts and figures and the data.

“What you’re doing is putting real people into people’s living rooms. And you are required to put yourself in their shoes. So when Lee (Castleton), played by Will (Mellor), stands in court, and he’s told that he has to pay the court costs, you imagine what it must be like to be in that position.

“When Monica (Dolan) is seeing the the figures double in front of her eyes, as she’s on the phone to the Horizon helpline, you feel what that must be like, and it gives you empathy.

“And that’s what drama can do. And I’ve seen it happen so many times, from my years in continuing drama, and I think that it can really cut past all that.

“Especially for something like this, which spans so many years.”

She added: “There’s been really amazing people trying to keep that going for years, but it’s never quite grabbed the public imagination in the way that it has.

“So now we’ve got to grab this momentum and keep rolling with it because, you know, it’s big news this week. But we’ve got to make sure that it stays in people’s hearts and minds in the weeks that follow.”



Former sub-postmaster Mr Castleton, who is played by Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps star Mellor in the drama, said he felt truly understood while watching the drama.

He said: “You feel as though he really gets it. And as you do with all of the cast, I think the cast is fantastic.

“To have just that moment in time, that right person doing the right thing in the right way, has obviously cut through and made such a difference to how it’s being received.

“There’s so many emotions going on, and so many things that go on in your head.

“You fought so long, and all of us fought so long, and tried to be heard and tried and tried and tried just to allow everything to come out and allow people to finally listen to where you’ve been and what’s happened and and why that happened. And even now we’re not really at the full truth.”

He added: “It has been probably 20 years that I would never like to repeat, and I would never wish on anyone else.

“But on the other side of that, let’s hope however long we all have left in our lives that we can put this behind us and move on.”