"Mr. Selfridge" Promises to Be Another Period-Costume Hit for PBS

"Mr. Selfridge" Promises to Be Another Period-Costume Hit for PBS
Still of Samuel West and Zoë Tapper in "Mr Selfridge"
(© ITV Studios)

Those still reeling in drop-waisted despair from Downton Abbey’s finale might find solace in another British petticoat drama, invading the colonies this Sunday. “Mr. Selfridge,” a 10-part series produced by ITV Studios for ITV1 and PBS, is the biggest series created by the studio. If the show’s popularity in the UK (where it attracted an average of 8.5 million viewers per episode) is any indication, PBS might have another crinoline-clad hit on its hands.

“Mr. Selfridge” promises to be the “town” to Downton Abbey’s “country,” substituting sex and money for drawing-room crumpets and crumbling aristocracy. Entourage’s Jeremy Piven stars as the titular Mr. Selfridge, a self-made Chicago entrepreneur who opened his eponymous department store on Oxford Street, London, in 1909, transforming shopping into a spectacle and national pastime. “Beside being an innovator, he was an incredibly colorful character. The guy loved nightlife, gambling, and women!” said Piven. Think Ari Gold in tails.

“We’re looking at a turning point in history through the prism of retail,executive producer Kate Lewis told WWD. “Downton was very much about looking back and about the modern world imposing on the past. We’re very much about progress, commerce, and the future. Mr. Selfridge is a show about the birth of mass consumption and the thrill and seduction of shopping. Fittingly, it promises some straight-up costume porn. Mr. Selfridge’s suits and brocade waistcoasts were made to order from original period fabrics.”

Dressed to the nines in multi-tiered feathered hats, Worth-style lace gowns, and furs, the ladies of “Mr. Selfridge” (which include a “sexually voracious aristocrat” and a “celebrity showgirl”) make the Crawley sisters look like plain Janes.