Polly Walker, Aidan McArdle, Cal Macaninch are cast alongside lead actors Jeremy Piven, Katherine Kelly, Aisling Loftus and Frances O’Connor as ITV Studios begin filming the second series of Mr Selfridge in London
Ten new episodes of the ITV Studios drama Mr Selfridge have started filming in London this week, following the ratings success of the first series for broadcaster ITV.
Based upon the life of flamboyant American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, who founded the world-renowned store on London’s Oxford Street in 1909, the second series picks up the story in 1914 as the store celebrates its 5th anniversary of trading.
Harry, played by Emmy award-winning American actor, Jeremy Piven (Entourage), is proud of the store’s success but there is no time to rest on his laurels. With rumours rife and talk of war in Europe, he prepares staff for challenges times ahead. The store must play its own part in the war effort and help keep morale high on the home front.
Now more than ever Harry needs his wife, Rose, played by Frances O’Connor (AI: Artificial Intelligence, Piccadilly Jim), by his side. But in the last four years, they have become increasingly estranged. Rose has been spending long periods in America with the couple’s youngest children whilst Harry runs the business and lives the life of a single man back in London.
In the first episode of the new series, Rose returns to support her husband during the anniversary celebrations. Surprised and thrilled to have her back, Harry embarks on a campaign to win her back. But Rose is caught up with an exciting new friendship with Bohemian novelist and business woman, Delphine Day, played by Polly Walker (John Carter, Clash of the Titans) whom she met on the boat home from New York. Delphine is self-assured, inspiring and a breath of fresh air for Rose. As the owner of the infamous Delphine’s Club in Soho, she begins to empower Rose and leaves Harry feeling beleaguered and sidelined.
Lady Mae Loxley, played by Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street, She Stoops to Conquer) is also thrown off stride by the unexpected return to London of her husband, Lord Loxley, played by Aidan McArdle (Garrow’s Law, The Reckoning). Loxley is an alpha male who creates tensions and animosity at every turn and his unsettling presence threatens to drive a wedge between Harry and Lady Mae.
Arrival of a flamboyant new Head of Fashion, Mr Thackeray, played by Cal Macaninch (Downton Abbey, Wild at Heart), also sets a cat amongst the pigeons. Mr Thackeray spent his formative years working in Paris and relishes the opportunity to remind his colleagues of his illustrious training. He considers himself a cut above the other staff, especially Agnes Towler, played by Aisling Loftus (The Borrowers, Dive), who he views as competition from the outset.
Agnes has been working in Paris and returns to London in episode one to work for Harry as Selfridge’s new Head of Display. With the fashion and style influence of the Parisians, Agnes turns heads with her sophisticated new look. Old flame, Victor Colleano, played Trystan Gravelle (Anonymous), has been promoted to manage Selfridge’s restaurant the Palm Court and has moved on with his life in Agnes’ absence. That is until Victor’s sparky young cousin and newly appointed waiter in the Palm Court, Franco, played by Sean Teale, decides to cause some mischief. And Henri Leclair, played by Gregory Fitoussi (Spiral), returns from America a changed man.
Other key characters are also set to return and we pick up with their stories 4 years on. These include Miss Josie Mardle, played by Amanda Abbington, (Married, Single, Other), Tom Goodman-Hill (Spy, The Hollow Crown) as Harry’s Chief of Staff Mr Roger Grove, Ron Cook as Harry’s ever-faithful right hand man, Mr Crabb, Samuel West as journalist Frank Edwards, Amy Beth Hayes as ambitious shop girl Kitty Hawkins and Calum Callaghan as George Towler.
With World War One imminent and set to be the greatest and most devastating in history, it will inevitably affect the lives of everyone in the store. Throughout these troubled times, Harry will turn to his family and friends and try and heal the rifts of the past.
Award-winning writer, Andrew Davies (Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice) will work alongside fellow writers Kate Brooke (Case Sensitive, Making of a Lady, Ice Cream Girls), Kate O’Riordan (The Bad Mother’s Handbook, The Kindness of Strangers) and Dan Sefton (Holby City, Death in Paradise) crafting the scripts for the series.
In January this year, the first episode of Mr Selfridge achieved a peak audience of 9.4 million viewers. This made it the highest launch audience for a new ITV drama series since Scott and Bailey in May 2011.
Filming will take place on location in Greater London and Kent with transmission on ITV in 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the First World War.
Lindy Woodhead, author of Shopping Seduction and Mr Selfridge, continues in her role as advisor on retail history alongside British historian, Juliet Gardiner who joins the team at ITV Studios as historical advisor.
Mr Selfridge has been recommissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Commissioning Steve November.
The series will be produced by Cherry Gould (Lightfields, Above Suspicion), and executive produced by Kate Lewis for ITV Studios alongside Andrew Davies, Kate Brooke and Kate O’Riordan. The director of the first two episodes is Anthony Byrne (Silent Witness, Single Handed) who returns to Mr Selfridge having directed episodes for the first series. Rob Evans will also direct episodes during the series.
Kate Lewis, executive producer for ITV Studios said: “ITV Studios is thrilled to be making a second series of Mr Selfridge. The story of Harry Selfridge, his family and colleagues has drawn in a strong drama audience and we are delighted by the response. The second series will allow us to build on this success and it is a fantastic opportunity to focus on 1914 during the centenary of the Great War.”