Wednesday, 9 January 2013


London, 1908. Agnes Towler, a young shop girl at Gamages department store loses her job for being helpful to a colourful American customer who said he was "just looking". This client is the flamboyant Chicago entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge

One year later, Harry announces that he wants to open "the biggest and the best department store in the whole world" right at the dead end of Oxford Street. But his English partner suddenly pulls out of the project. Fortunately Selfridge meets journalist Frank Edwards, who introduces him to the alluring socialite Lady Mae Moxley and her connections.

ITV1, home of Downton Abbey, aired last sunday the premiere of its new big-budget period drama Mr Selfridge. This 10-episode series started a couple of months after the end of the similarly themed The Paradise on BBC One It was created by multi-award winning British writer Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards, etc.) based on the book Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead - about the founder of the London-based Selfridges department store.

« We're giving them style, glamour, razzmatazz. Once they see what we have done here, there'll be no turning back. »

This 60-minute opener (minus adverts) is penned by Davies himself and directed by Jon Jones, who helmed Julian Fellowes's Titanic and Going Postal. It's an introduction to a Downton Abbey-esque ensemble of characters lead by the amazing Mr Selfridge, played by Jeremy Piven (Entourage). The American actor perfectly brings the required amount of exuberance and energy to the character without losing its complexity. Aisling Loftus (The Borrowers) plays Agnes Towler. Ron Cook is irresistible as Mr Crabb, Harry's loyal but anxious chief accountant. French actor Grégory Fitoussi (Spiral) is excellent as the creative director  Henri Leclair. Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street) is very good as Lady Mae. Amanda Abbington, Tom Goodman-Hill, Trystan Gravelle and Zoë Tapper (Survivors) are also amongst a great cast.

The lavish and epic grand opening has everything promised and promises even more. Although with 9 episodes left, writers Andrew Davies (also exec producer), Kate Brooke and Kate O'Riordan should better have good material as clients already visited the rival department store. Mr Selfridge is produced by ITV Studios and Masterpiece for ITV1 and distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment. Chrissy Skinns (Marchlands) is the producer and Kate Lewis exec produces for ITV Studios. Charlie Mole is the composer (the theme music is brilliant). The superb title sequence was designed and directed by Hugo Moss for Huge Designs.

1 comment:

Rob Buckley said...

Yes, I really liked it, too, although I thought Piven's delivery occasionally wooden. Otherwise, excellent!