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Mr Selfridge is a British period television drama series about Harry Gordon Selfridge (Jeremy Piven, Ellen, Entourage) and his London department store Selfridge & Co, co-produced by ITV Studios and Masterpiece/WGBH for broadcast on ITV and PBS. The series began airing on 6 January 2013 in the United Kingdom.
It was announced on 24 May 2011 that ITV was in discussions with ITV Studios about developing an adaptation of Lindy Woodhead’s biography Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge. Andrew Davies (House of Cards) was confirmed to be working on the script. Beginning in London in 1908, during a time period when women were enjoying an ever increasing amount of freedom, it tells the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges department store and includes members of his family, particularly his wife Rose Selfridge.
It was originally planned to be screened in 2012. However, it is claimed that ITV was forced to push back airing the drama due to rival BBC airing a 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 The Historic Dockyard Chatham, 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.
Many elements of Mr. Selfridge reflect reality, such as Harry Selfridge’s flamboyant, loud, and charismatic character. It is also true that Rose Selfridge (Frances Ann O’Connor, Cashmere Mafia, The Missing), Harry’s wife, felt unhappy in England. While Harry’s family have the same names as in reality (except Harry’s son, Harry Gordon Selfridge, Jr., whose name was changed to just Gordon Selfridge in the series), all of the other characters are fictional, but are representative of real figures of the period. The interior and exterior of the store are very similar to the real ones, as is the Selfridge family’s house.
There are some very significant differences though. Harry’s family (aside from Rose and Gordon) live in the United States in the second series, whereas they lived with Harry in England all the time in reality. Also, Rose and the family leaving after falling out with Harry did not actually happen, although Harry’s reputation as a womanizer could be true. Harry’s infamous car crash in series 1 did not actually happen, although the entire family did crash near Ambleside in the Lake District in 1911, which was not depicted in the series. Furthermore, Harry’s relationship with Highcliffe Castle (not to be confused with Highclere Castle, the setting of another of ITV’s period dramas, Downton Abbey) was not shown. The Selfridge family hired the castle and it became a second home for them. Harry and Rose were later buried in the village of Highcliffe. Harry was not sent away to Germany as a spy in the First World War.