As an employee of a standalone coffee shop in a Selfridge’ store, I have been bombarded with the advertisements and long been encouraged to tune into ITV’s ‘Mr Selfridge.’ The ground floor, mainly known as the food court is often a lonely place in Selfridges, devoid of the razzmatazz of fashion and expensive indulgence. I wanted to see how this ten part series portrayed Selfridges to the ever adoring public; I wanted to know what exactly I was missing out on by not working on any of the other floors.
ITV drama series are not my usual sort of program and I’m not entirely sure what I expected of the show, except the glorified retail experience that I’m submerged in every weekend of my life. While that somewhat predictable expectation was met, I can’t help but the feel that this opening segment was so much more than that. The brilliant acting (and facial hair) carried out by Jeremy Piven has set a high hope for the rest of the series, a series in which one cannot help but fall easily into step with. The seduction of the audience runs as the vehement undercurrent of the show as a whole, enforced by the coy sexuality of Zoé Tapper. ITV should be congratulated on this drama series – it plays into the temptations, desires and dreams of a demographic so huge that I predict this show will become all-encompassing and dominating in TV related discussion for the next few weeks to come.
While shopping for quality products in terms of price and names is exceedingly popular, more so today than ever before, the shadow of shallowness never falls far behind this materialistic nature. This shallowness is exactly what could have led this programme into danger; how exactly can a series about a retail place stretch to ten episodes? I believe it will. While retail was the forerunning theme, there are hints of violence, romance and scandals. The series is set to take some twists and turns that serve to add depth to the simplistic title. Quite coyly, it even hinted at economic issues ever relevant to today’s society; the potential risk of becoming bankrupt by spending money one doesn’t have and losing everything. As Selfridges and indeed, money issues, are very much part of our culture today, the programme faced the task of dragging the early twentieth century right up to now. The directors have accomplished this extraordinarily; the stunning sets and importance of indulgences such as appearance are explicitly symmetrical of the retail experience today.
As someone who interacts in the environment of Selfridges each weekend, it was really great to see how Selfridges was presented. Quotes on the walls of the set appear on the walls of the actual staff entrance of the store I work at, the significance of the restaurant echoes ‘The Gallery’ in Birmingham; the ridiculously expensive restaurant that is frequented by particular football players. The detail throughout the whole of the programme was honestly terrific.
My only complaint about the programme is the length – the plot was stretched into an hour and a half slot. While I was in fact engrossed, I for one didn’t notice that time pass. It solidly excited my viewing for the duration, however an hour and a half slot on a Sunday night may be the disadvantage for the show- will a sleepy Sunday nation who are preparing to go to work on Monday really tune in for that long again?