Mr Selfridge returns for Second Series.

by | Jan 19, 2014 | All, Reviews

I love Jeremy Piven, even though he is – let’s be honest – a poor man’s John Cusack. He may be the aforementioned Hollywood icon’s bestie, and I can never see Piven’s fizzog without thinking of that scene in Grosse Pointe Blank (all together now: “Ten years!”), but he’s still one of my favourite thesps.

It could be because he’s got a face that’s as comfortable as a squashy old sofa. Or, maybe it’s because clapping eyes on the words Mr Selfridge always makes me hear The Killers’ perky track Mr Brightside in my head for about an hour afterward. But to be honest, Piven’s leading role in this gloriously opulent drama is one of the best things he’s ever done.

Which is saying a lot, considering in this series two opener, Selfridge spent much of the time running round after his disinterested wife like a love-sick lapdog. Ironic really, when he’s adored by just about everyone else within a 15-mile radius. But that’s what celebrating five years of successful trading will do for him. That and get him a bronze bust that’s better-looking than the real thing. Piven’s Selfridge, for all his many distractions, does at least manage to look genuinely touched by his devoted staff’s gift.

Unfortunately, the one person he is dying to impress – his spouse Rose – is far too busy playing with her new friend, the scandalous Delphine. Polly Walker has far too much fun in the latter role – not that I’m surprised. Her naughty alter ego is all voluptuous sensuousness, the absolute antithesis of Frances O’Connor’s Rose. While Delphine is as ripe and delicious as a low-hanging cherry, Rose is about as sexy as a Ryvita, and twice as dry. Yet Selfridge still wants to butter her up…

He’s not the only one experiencing domestic disharmony, as lovely Lady Mae (who tries to warn Rose off Delphine, only to be politely but coolly rebuffed) is forced to entertain her absent husband. He’s played by Aidan McArdle, whom I once had the pleasure of interviewing. However, there was none of the impish, cheeky chap in his portrayal of (there’s no other way to describe him) nasty little shit, Lord Loxley. Mae’s no fool and if anyone can shake off trouble without putting an elegant hair out of place, it’s her, but something tells me her hubby’s going to make things tough for her.

Elsewhere, Agnes returned from Paris, though apparently with only one frock, and almost immediately got up Cal Macaninch’s super-snooty hooter, while Kitty gave sleazy Sam West food for thought after he mistook her for a girl who played fast and loose with her virtue.

Everything about Mr Selfridge oozes quality, from those gorgeous sets and costumes to the seamless blending and criss-crossing of multiple storylines. It’s like Downton, but better, in so far as the pacing is on the money and Michelle Dockery – god love her – isn’t mooning about the place looking like she needs a good feed.

I never thought I’d say this about a show that combines period drama elegance with just the right amount of Are You Being Served?, but welcome back Mr Brightside – I mean Selfridge – in all your capitalist glory. We’ve missed you.

Mr Selfridge Continues Sundays at 9.00pm on ITV.

Contributed by Scheenagh Harrington

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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