Liberty of London, Channel 4: TV review
Don't try and pull the wool over our eyes – this documentary was taking a liberty
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 03 December 2013
You don't have to be idiosyncratic to work at Liberty, but it helps. Behind the mock Tudor facade of London's iconic department store, some real characters lurk – or at least that's what Channel 4 was obviously hoping when they commissioned three-part documentary Liberty of London. You can see why. The Paradise, a costume drama set in Britain's first department store is a hit on BBC1, Mr Selfridge is soon to return to ITV for a second series, and BBC2 shows endless repeats of the classic Seventies sitcom Are You Being Served?. Apparently, audiences are enthralled by the detail of retail.
Various candidates were put forward, but there were no real-life Slocombes or Humphries at Liberty, just lots of dedicated staff, all exceptionally loyal to the 138-year-old store and proud of the goods they sell. Liberty truly is a glorious cornucopia of things I'll never be able to afford so there was some vicarious pleasure to be had in observing people who could. People like the fabulously wealthy Felix, who has furnished seven homes around the world with goods from Liberty and employs his own full-time personal shopper called Michael.
You might also catch a glimpse of Turner Prize winner and Reith lecturer Grayson Perry amid the silk swathes of Liberty's famous textile department, as it's here he buys the material for his dresses. Perry made an excellent advert for the store's charms: "In my mind, it's like a rather grand auntie who would take you out for tea and cakes." Come to think of it, this whole programme was really one long advert for Liberty's charms, wasn't it? Aren't there Ofcom rules about this kind of thing?
Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 4 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Game of Thrones season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as it’s not him
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures