Having written for series 1 of Mr Selfridge, I have been delighted to have the opportunity to move the show on into series two. The wonderful Andrew Davies created an immensely likeable world and a tremendous array of characters.
That world and those characters return but four years have passed, Harry Selfridge is busy trying to mend fences with his wife Rose, Lady Mae is horrified to discover that Lord Loxley is back in town, and Agnes has to decide which man she really loves – Victor Colleano or Henri Leclair.
Meanwhile, the exotic Delphine, proprietor of a glamorous nightclub, is meddling in everybody’s lives…
And Selfridges the store, with its Heads of Department and Management staff intact, is now a much loved London institution – according to Harry Selfridge himself, “the third most famous tourist attraction in town, after Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.” Beauty and Make-up, a single counter in 1909, has taken off, and Women’s Fashion has expanded to incorporate a whole floor. The store anticipates and supplies the product demands of the Age: saucy novels, bust cream, and then as War hits the country, British made goods and dried food.
Because it’s 1914, Duke Ferdinand is assassinated in Sarajevo, and the country finds itself at War. As Selfridge lads enthusiastically sign up to fight, women take the depot jobs vacated by the men, and the American community in London scramble onto the boats home, Harry is eager to help the War Effort. His good intentions, however, land him and the store in all sorts of trouble.
One of the reasons why I particularly enjoy writing Mr Selfridge is the unique combination of fact and fiction, which the show incorporates. Selfridges is a real store, Harry was the real founder, and many of our stories are inspired by nuggets of biographical gold dust, unearthed by Lindy Woodhouse (author of Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge).
How did Selfridges, the store, survive the war so successfully? Why did Harry choose to visit Germany, bringing antagonism and hostility down upon himself? Our responses to these questions are sometimes leaps of imagination, because we cannot know the answers for certain – but we have massively enjoyed making those leaps.
The social history of life on the Home Front at the beginning of the War has also been an immensely rich source of story: Nationalistic fervour, fear of spying, hostility to Americans, all these trends impact on our characters, creating conflict and jeopardy for them in a fast changing world. The series spans the initial jubilation that the War evokes to the gradual sobering realisation that the troops will not be home by Christmas. Researching and writing the show in the build up to the
Centenary of the First World War has felt very special, and at times extremely moving. I very much hope that you enjoy the result.
We’re so excited for the new series! Are you? Here’s the trailer…