Shopping, seduction and Mr Selfridge - ITV unveils new Edwardian drama after Downton Abbey success


ITV will follow the success of Downton Abbey with a new period drama about the American founder of the Selfridge department store which promises to “make shopping as thrilling as sex”.

The story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American “showman of shopping” who opened the Oxford Street store in 1909, but was undone by addictions to gambling, mansions and mistresses, will be screened next year.

Based upon the book Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead, the ten-part series, which has the working title Mr Selfridge, will revisit the themes of sex and snobbery aired in Downton Abbey.

Focusing on the racier side of Edwardian life, the drama will switch between the private poker games of the wealthy and the daily struggles of working men and women.

ITV hopes that Mr Selfridge, created by the award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies, will repeat the international success of Downton Abbey. An American star is being sought to play the reckless “Mile A Minute Harry”.

Advertisers are expected to flock to the series, which will portray the glamorous lives of a new generation of wealthy women who shopped purely for pleasure.

ITV yesterday reported a 14% increase in pre-tax profits to £327 million in 2011. But Adam Crozier, Chief Executive, admitted that ITV needed to look beyond ageing entertainment formats like The X Factor, which recorded its first audience decline last year, to find new, innovative shows.

I'm A Celebrity … and The X Factor underperformed and would need to be refreshed, said Mr Crozier, who called the BBC’s new rival talent show, The Voice, “derivative”.