We are constantly hearing about the decline of TV and how viewing is shifting to online (which we know is the case) but the new drama based Mr Bates vs The Post Office on ITV is a great example of how powerful TV can be and the influence it can have.
This series has put the Post Office scandal back up the current affairs agenda and led to the former Post Office boss Paula Vennells handing back her CBE.
In my opinion ITV also made the correct decision in launching this on linear and not straight to ITVX as it is unlikely that it would have had the same impact. This encapsulates the power of TV and how it brings people together and this was backed up by the viewing figures.
The first episode has been watched by 9.2 million viewers, making it the UK’s most-viewed programme of 2024 and the best-performing ITV drama since 2021’s The Pembrokeshire Murders.
ITV said the four episodes of the drama were the most-watched programmes on any UK channel this year – yes ok we’re only 10 days into it but they’ve reached 14.8 million viewers (including a documentary on the scandal) so far.
On ITVX, the series has been streamed 12.3 million times in eight days, while on linear it was the most-watched programme across all channels (3.9 million), beating BBC1’s The Tourist (2.2 million).
If anything we can thank Toby Jones for his masterful portrayal of Mr Bates but also the British public’s love of an underdog come good. Well done ITV and well done Mr Bates for fighting the good fight.