Are You Being Served? Mr. Selfridge to Premiere on PBS

Sunday, March 24, 2013
Photo via The Jane Austin Film Club
Should I be ashamed that I had never heard of one of England's most prominent department stores, Selfridges, until PBS started promoting the premiere of the series Mr. Selfridge a few weeks ago? This latest Masterpiece Theater series premieres on Sunday, March 31 and stars cutie Jeremy Piven as the wheelin' and dealin' Midwestern American store mogul Harry Selfridge who made a name for himself when he opened up the first department store of its kind, Selfridges, in London in 1909. 

An illustration of Selfridges' rooftop via Melbourne Blogger
Big whoop, you may be saying. How exciting can a series about a department store be? That's what I thought until I found out that the flagship Oxford Street Selfridges at one time had a rooftop terrance that showcased gardens, parties, fashion shows, cafes, mini golf and even a ladies' gun club. Harry Selfridge also revolutionized the way customers shopped, by making a trip to the store fun and exciting. He started window displays and has been credited with coining the phrase "The customer is always right." (I am sure that many folks who work in service-related industries would like to slap him for creating that mantra.) Every detail of the store--from lighting to the way salespeople approached customers--was meant to provide a pleasurable shopping experience. Let's hear it for materialism!

I am sure that the series' producers embellished the Selfridge saga with storylines and events that never took place and will play up Harry Selfridge's womanizing ways (Jeremy Piven looks like he's having too much fun with the ladies in the photo above to portray a dedicated family man.) According to the PBS site, a showgirl and "temptress" named Ellen Love will be one of the women drawn to Mr. Selfridge's charisma. PBS is clearly hoping to corral the Downtown Abbey fans like myself who are going through withdrawal, as the Selfridge promos starting airing the minute the last season of Downton ended. 

Something sad and ironic to note, which may or may not be portrayed in the series: for all of his success, Mr. Selfridge went bankrupt during the Great Depression, pretty much because he couldn't curb his own spending habits and gambling addiction. 

I guess we'll see how this plays out when Mr. Selfridge airs the first of its right episodes next Sunday on PBS. Here's a preview of the series:


  1. If you are visiting London, forget Harrods, Selfridges is a superior store. It has all the brands and designer labels without the toss and the tat that comes with that other place.

  2. I was looking forwart to this but sadly, this series is just awful! I actually enjoy all the scenes WITHOUT Mr. Selfridge better! (Which is the only reason I'll watch next week's episode) Piven's acting is so broad it's distracting from any drama the series is trying to project. In fast, although Priven is American, his performance reminds me of an English actor doing a very bad American accent. Somehow I tried hearing Jon Hamm do Mr. Selfridge's dialogue, and Selfridge sounded better in my head with a Don Draper voice! The singer he takes up with is like the 1900 version of Madonna (and just as disagreeable) I'd rather see more of Mrs. Selfridge's story; I want her to run off with the artist! I dunno, it's not one of the better Brit period dramas, (dramedy?) but I'll have to watch the rest at least for the costume eye candy and hope the storyline improves.

  3. I definitely thought a show like this could hold its own if done right. Heck.. Are you being served? kept my attention for the better part of two decades! (although.. I'm a sucker for witty and risque comedy. LOL I will have to check into this show for sure! Thanks Pammy!

  4. Fascinating. I had no idea Selfridges was started by an American. Kind of makes me proud that he hopped across the pond and took over. I might give this a look or I might just watch Mad Men til Downton comes back.


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