Masterpiece is on a roll: Downton Abbey (winner of nine Emmys and two Golden Globes) and Sherlock have added millions of fans to PBS’s most enduring and beloved drama series. Now it looks to have another hit: Mr. Selfridge, a new, 8-part Masterpiece premiering March 31, 2013 that has taken the UK by storm.
It all started, not surprisingly, with a book—in this case, a non-fiction work with the provocative title Shopping, Seduction, and Mr. Selfridge. “It was a biography of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of London’s famed department store, that attracted the attention of writer Andrew Davies,” Masterpiece Executive Producer, Rebecca Eaton explains. “And that’s what attracted our attention, because Andrew is the go-to guy for period drama in England.”
Rebecca has worked with Andrew on some of Masterpiece’s most acclaimed productions, including Little Dorrit, Bleak House and House of Cards.
Like Andrew, Rebecca instantly saw the potential. “Harry Selfridge was a very complicated man,” she says. “He was hyperkinetic, a showman. He had a loving family, but he also had affairs and always was surrounded by beautiful women. He was an outsider who came into British society and fought his way to the top. What a rich character for Andrew to explore!”
But there was another aspect that also appealed to Rebecca: the location. “Like Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge is a ‘precinct drama,’”she explains. “Downton Abbey is set in a very beautiful stately home.
And in that beautiful place, people love and cry and hate each other and betray each other and have babies and dress beautifully. There are very rich stories. The same is true with Mr. Selfridge only this time the setting is a glamorous department store in the heart of London.”
Then there is the first-rate cast, led by Jeremy Piven, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning star of the hit TV series Entourage. “Jeremy is a very versatile actor—energetic and intense. He’s the perfect fit to play Harry Selfridge, who came to London and was a game changer.” Mr. Selfridge has all the makings of another masterpiece: strong central characters, multiple plotlines, an intriguing setting, and firstrate writing and acting. Great drama, thanks to your generous annual support.
Watch Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge Sunday at 9:00pm beginning March 31 on witf TV.
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