Monday, April 2, 2012

Channel Shopping

Do you remember, dear reader, that I mentioned on this very blog quite a few months ago the commissioning of a companion piece to that hugely popular menace of diabetics everywhere, Lark Rise to Candleford? The Ladies' Paradise will be written by the same chap, one Bill Gallagher, and it will be set at the same time, the late nineteenth century. It transposes the action, however, to an industrial city where the residents are all agog about the imminent opening of a department store - whatever that is! Well, news has now reached this blogger that ITV, in the coincidence to end all coincidences, is also launching a period drama set in a department store. While The Ladies' Paradise is still at the pre-production stage, ITV's Mr Selfridge is scheduled to start filming this month and will, consequently, be the first of the two dramas to hit our television screens. Now what does that remind me of?!

One must grumble. Mr Selfridge, based on the book Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge and telling the story of how flamboyant American entrepreneur Harry Sefridge came to open a lavish store on London's Oxford Street, does sound very promising. The drama is set in 1909, at a time when women were revelling in a new sense of freedom and modernity. Harry wanted to indulge, empower and celebrate these women and earn a few bob in the process - penchants for showgirls, gambling and living life very much in the fast lane do not come cheap, after all! The ten-part series is the brainchild of Andrew Davies, a man who needs no introduction to bona fide period drama enthusiasts, and will feature Emmy Award-winning Entourage star Jeremy Piven in the title role alongside Coronation Street star Katherine Kelly, currently delighting audiences on stage at London's National Theatre in She Stoops to Conquer (pictured above), as alluring socialite Lady Mae whose society connections prove invaluable to Harry as he embarks on building his empire. Mr Selfridge's philosophy was that shopping should be as seductive and pleasurable an experience as sex - a notion that will no doubt feature on the promotional material when the series begins in early 2013.

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