Published: Sat 15 Dec 2012
Award-winning actor Jeremy Piven (Entourage) leads the cast as Harry Gordon Selfridge in new drama series Mr Selfridge, about the life of the flamboyant and visionary American entrepreneur.
Created by multi-award winning writer Andrew Davies, Mr Selfridge tells the story of ‘Mile a Minute Harry’, a man with a mission to make shopping as thrilling as sex. Pioneering and reckless, with an almost manic energy, he created a theatre of retail where any topic or trend that was new, exciting, entertaining – or sometimes just eccentric – was showcased.
AGNES TOWLER, a young shop girl at Gamages department store, is bemused and slightly anxious when a colourful American customer cheekily encourages her to empty her stock onto the glove counter. He says he’s ‘just looking’, which is simply unheard of! AGNES deftly presents him with a gorgeous pair of fine red leather gloves. Her product knowledge is impeccable and her passion very clear. After the customer is asked to leave, AGNES is dismayed to be dismissed for the incident. How will AGNES pay her rent? Especially as her little brother GEORGE is also jobless. As she collects her cards, she receives a gift. The pair of red leather gloves with a card from HARRY GORDON SELFRIDGE.
Meanwhile, the bold retailer HARRY SELFRIDGE is assembling his great plans for the biggest and finest department store the world has ever seen at the ‘dead end’ of Oxford Street. Facing a frosty reception from the anti-American press, HARRY runs into unexpected trouble when his business partner WARING suddenly pulls out of the project, which leaves the life of the project hanging in the balance. But HARRY’S luck is up when journalist FRANK EDWARDS throws HARRY a lifeline, offering to show new-to-town HARRY around London and introduce him to the right people.
HARRY’S family arrive in London from Chicago. His beautiful and grounded wife ROSE accompanies his four children ROSALIE, VIOLETTE, GORDON and BEATRICE, and his mother LOIS as they move into their extravagant central London home. ROSE in anxious about fitting into London life, and HARRY doesn’t want to worry her. So he turns to his mother LOIS for advice about the missing money for the project. They came from nothing in provincial America – does he think he’ll let a blip like this get in his way?
Buoyed by LOIS’ enduring support, HARRY pushes on. FRANK EDWARDS introduces HARRY to the formidable socialite LADY MAE LOXLEY. One of the most connected women in London, it is via her that HARRY secures a new investor and the future of Selfridge’s is saved. Smart, savvy and keen to be ahead of the curve, LADY MAE makes it clear that HARRY, and Selfridge’s, lies firmly in her debt. Using the newest engineering techniques and building materials available, the building goes up in record time. Selfridge’s is born.
HARRY recruits his new top team. MR CRABB, Chief Accountant who is always worried about the figures; the stoic Chief of Staff MR GROVE who is cool, calm and in control; the handsome Frenchman HENRI LECLAIR in charge of Window Displays and Store Presentation; the formidable MISS MARDLE, Head of Accessories; and the timid MISS BUNTING, Head of Fashion.
Word of the impending store opening spreads through London, and AGNES, who’s been struggling to make ends meet, approaches HARRY for a job. He remembers her, and agrees to hire her! On recruitment day, queues of prospective employees build in the street, and we meet AGNES again who is fast-tracked by ‘The Chief’ himself to a job as a Senior Assistant in Accessories. Fellow assistants KITTY and DORIS aren’t best impressed. We also meet cheeky chap VICTOR who joins the Palm Court Restaurant, and we see he’s definitely taken a shine to Agnes!
FRANK also introduces HARRY to the stunning ELLEN LOVE, a Gaiety girl whom HARRY employs as the ‘Spirit of Selfridge’s’. But there is a sizzling chemistry between them, and we sense that there’s more than business between them to come…
Opening day in March 1909 is a great success, attracting huge crowds, but with one significant problem: disappointing takings. HARRY could still be ruined yet.