Mr Selfridge is a British period television drama produced by ITV Studios for ITV and PBS which began airing on 6 January 2013. Set in 1909 London during a time period where women are enjoying an ever increasing amount of freedom, it tells the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges department store.
It was created by writer Andrew Davies based on the book "Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge" by Lindy Woodhead, using real and fictitious characters created by Davies.
Jokingly described as "Downton Abbey with tills", it was originally planned to be screened in 2012. However, it is claimed that ITV were forced to push back airing the drama due to rival's BBC similarly themed drama series The Paradise.
A set to the north of London was built to house a replica of the 1909 Selfridge's store interior.
The exterior of the store was recreated in Chatham Docks in Kent.
The disused Aldwych tube station was used to film Rose Selfridge travelling on the London Underground and scenes in the first episode featuring Victor Colleano, Agnes Towler and her brother George.
Mr Selfridge, episode one, ITV1, review
Benjamin Secher reviews the first episode of Mr Selfridge, ITV1's drama about the retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge and the launch of his London store.
By Benjamin Secher 06 Jan 2013 in The Telegraph / http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9781028/Mr-Selfridge-episode-one-ITV1-review.html
Is it possible that, in this age of e-commerce, we are already beginning to feel nostalgic for an era when browsing was something you did in a shop and not on the internet? It’s hard to know how else to explain the fact that last night, just weeks after The Paradise became a surprise hit for the BBC, ITV1 began a less cosy, more charismatic department store drama of its own.
Mr Selfridge, scripted by the doyen of small-screen costume drama, Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice; Bleak House), came across like a love letter to the Oxford Street emporium after whose American founder it is named. The series opened, in “London, 1909”, with a soap bubble of a scene in which Harry Gordon Selfridge himself glided across the floor of his brand new store, teeth flashing between his whiskers, while an orchestra struck up a swooning soundtrack.
“Not too tidy in here; pile ’em up!” he yelled at his shelf-stacking employees, cracking a self-satisfied grin that oozed slowly across his face, like yolk from a soft boiled egg. “I want Treasure Island in here, Aladdin’s cave… glamour, style, razzmatazz!” Shot in dreamy soft-focus, corseted shop girls dipped their heads and whispered yessirs; a ludicrously camp European window dresser fussed around his displays, and then… the opening titles rolled.
And so, in more ways than one, this sumptuous, frothy drama set out its stall. By showing us from the off that the shop would indeed open in glorious fashion, the flashback that made up the rest of the episode – in which Selfridge arrived in London to find his proposed store threatened by the withdrawal of financial backers and the scorn of the press – was robbed of its sting. The action may have begun, like the BBC’s recent Parade’s End, in a nation heading ineluctably towards war, but, for now at least, Mr Selfridge was all but free of jeopardy.
The beaverish American actor Jeremy Piven (Entourage) played Selfridge with a cartoony combination of charm and insincerity: I half expected to see pound signs where his pupils should be. Zoë Tapper was all winks and legs as the saucy stage actress who caught his eye.
And Aisling Loftus was her prim but determined opposite playing a shop assistant who looks likely to work her way to the top of the organisation. All were, like everything else on screen, easy to watch but hard to believe in. It was an entertaining spectacle but, in the end, I just didn’t buy it.