The Weekend’s Viewing: But will we discover how the store came to lose its apostrophe?

Mr Selfridge, Sun, ITV1 // Tankies: Tank Heroes of World War Two, Sun, BBC2

Are you glutted by shopping now? It would hardly be surprising. With the pre-Christmas potlatch frenzy seamlessly stitched to the post-Christmas sale stampede, even the most dedicated acquisitor tends to flag a little at this time of year.

ITV will be hoping you can summon up a little appetite, though, because it has a heroic tale for us – the story of a pioneer who battled hidebound tradition and social prejudice to bring the world something new. Naturally, his mission isn’t without its setbacks. “There’s always prejudice against anything that’s new,” says his wife consolingly when she discovers him momentarily cast down. And naturally the guttering flame of ambition reignites, as it always does in biopics about the great innovators of history: “They said we couldn’t do it... but we are going to prove them wrong!” our hero promises his adoring disciples, as they ready  themselves for a critical moment. And the ultimate object  of this epic endeavour? Powered flight? Penicillin? The NHS? No. Just a bigger, flashier department store.

Selfridges, in fact, brainchild of Mr Selfridge and the subject, a little astoundingly, of a new 10-part drama series from Andrew Davies. How he’s going to fill all that airtime, I’m not sure, but perhaps a later episode will reveal the  dramatic tale of how the store came to lose its apostrophe. In the meantime, we have to be brought up to speed with exactly what faces Mr Selfridge as he struggles to jolt London retail into the early 20th century. The action  begins in Gamages, as he tries to coax a shopgirl into showing him more than one pair of gloves at a time. Alarmed  by this breach of retail protocol, a floor-walker intervenes. “What if I said I was just looking?” asks Mr Selfridge. “This is a shop, sir, not an exhibition,” replies the floor-walker witheringly. Mr Selfridge smiles knowingly. He has hired Henri Leclair, a Monet of retail display, to do his windows and knows it is all about putting on a show.

Jeremy Piven plays Mr Selfridge, as a blend of Barnum self-promotion and intermittent humanising moments of uncertainty. He’s from the spend-now, worry-later school of business, but after  an early investor is frightened off by his brashness, he has  to track down new finance with the help of a salonnière called Lady Mae, who communicates almost entirely in sultry double entendres. While he drums up capital, flutters through preparation montages and flirts with a music-hall star called Ellen Love, various shopgirls and salesmen shuffle into place to provide the Downstairs counterpart to management’s Upstairs intrigues. If you saw The Paradise, the BBC’s pre-emptive strike on the retail melodrama market, you’ll know precisely what to expect. And if you don’t care a lot about shopping, you’re not really likely to give a damn, since mercantile ambition seems to be pretty much the beginning and the end of Mr Selfridge’s psychology. At one point, you see him lining up Love to be a glamour ambassador for the new store, blazing a trail for our world of celebrity endorsement and product placement. And as you watch him at work, it’s hard not to think, “Fail, you bastard, fail!”

Mark Urban’s Tankies: Tank Heroes of World War Two offered a true historical pivot and instances of real courage, telling the stories of six members of the 5th Royal Tank Regiment as they fought through the Second World War. It was a story that began ignobly, with a shambolic retreat from advancing Panzers in France in 1940. But then the regiment got better tanks, better leadership and a better sense of what battle really meant, and played a decisive part in turning the tide at El Alamein. “We gave them a good hiding,” said one veteran. The documentary properly alerted you to the horror that actually lay behind that softening euphemism.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment

photography
Arts and Entertainment
Adolf Hitler's 1914 watercolour 'Altes Rathaus' and the original invoice from 1916

art
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible