Set against the bustling backdrop of Edwardian London, Mr. Selfridge captures the excitement and innovation of an era that saw tidal shifts in the way people lived, worked and, of course, shopped. Bringing the story of entrepreneurial Chicagoan Harry Selfridge to life is an ensemble cast featuring a string of both high profile names and new talents. From the highest tier of British society, to the employees of the city’s newest landmark, we’ve compiled a quick roster of some of those key faces.
SEASON ONE OF MR. SELFRIDGE AIRS WEDNESDAY NIGHTS AT 9PM ET/6PM PT THROUGH MARCH 5, 2014.
HARRY GORDON SELFRIDGE (Jeremy Piven): Not surprisingly, our titular protagonist is the exuberant hub around which this series orbits. Charismatic and driven, Harry Selfridge arrives in London in 1908 like a force of nature from across the Atlantic. The Chicago-born and bred businessman has worked his way up from the bottom rungs of the social ladder and, as he is reminded by his stalwart mother, Lois Selfridge, doesn’t plan on returning there. As a result, his business decisions, both shrewd and rash, are tempered by a sense of optimism – it seems his vision of the American dream sees him conquering the British market as well.
Selfridge strikes a formidable figure, and key players on the London scene quickly take notice of the ambitious American in their midst. From the launch of his audacious plan to revolutionize the art of shopping, he proves his unique ability to make headlines (even when he’s not particularly keen to do so), but while his outlandish ways have earned him plenty of free publicity, they may also prove to be a burden as the years pass.
ROSE SELFRIDGE (Frances O’Connor): A man as unpredictable as Harry Selfridge needs something to ground him, and as we soon find out, his graceful wife Rose is the anchor that keeps him from being swept away in a storm of his own making. Although she may come across as a quiet companion next to her husband’s overwhelming personality, Rose possesses a silent strength to match his mile-a-minute character. Newly settled in London, however, it’s not long before Rose begins to feel disconnected from his busy life, and sets out to keep herself occupied. Her interest in art draws her to the National Gallery where she catches the eye of a fellow artist, Roderick Temple. With few other acquaintances in London, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this chance meeting develop into an unusual friendship.
FRANK EDWARDS (Samuel West): Fortunately for Harry, not every member of the British press is out to prove his incompetence. Frank Edwards, the editor of the London Evening News, is one of the few who chooses his corner when he arrives in London, and his ability to connect Selfridge with key figures is invaluable to the rertailer’s survival. In Edwards, it seems that Harry has found at least one person in his adopted home who shares his taste for the city’s nightlife, as well as a partnership that may prove advantageous to both men.
LADY MAE LOXLEY (Katherine Kelly): If there’s one thing that Selfridge’s will need to survive, it’s customers, and few people in London hold as much sway over the city’s fashionable set than magnetic socialite Lady Mae Loxley. However, beneath her genteel airs lies a quietly dangerous mind, and Harry suspects that seeking her help may have significant consequences. Adept at pulling strings and exerting influence, she could prove either a powerful ally, or a fearsome enemy. Either way, she’ll look fantastically elegant doing so.
ELLEN LOVE (Zöe Tapper): Known around London for her role as a favourite gaiety girl, Ellen Love is fast proving that she’s as clever as she is beautiful. When Frank Edwards begins Harry’s introduction to the city’s most prominent characters and influencers, a visit to the theatre is one of the first stops on his list, and it isn’t long before Miss Love finds herself appointed as the “spirit of Selfridge’s”. It’s a title that Lady Mae makes sure to emphasize to Rose whenever they meet, and although her insinuations may be unwelcome, it would be unwise to doubt her keen intuition. It should be no surprise to see this showgirl’s star continue to rise in the weeks and months to come.
HENRI LECLAIR (Grégory Fitoussi): As brilliant an entrepreneur as he may be, Harry owes much of his success to the considerable talents of his creative director, Henri Leclair. With both an artistic eye, and a natural understanding of human nature, Leclair is essential in drawing crowds into the store through captivating displays and windows, and keeping them there once inside. He is a rarity, in that his passion matches that of his friend, and the two of them enjoyed success together in Chicago before making the leap to London’s Oxford Street. His willingness to implement boundary-pushing techniques, and to attempt the impossible, makes Leclair an appropriate associate for the always daring Selfridge.
AGNES TOWLER (Aisling Loftus): A young shopgirl trying to make her way in the world, Agnes Towler’s path to her role as a senior accessories assistant at Selfridge’s was one dictated largely by chance. After losing her job following a brief encounter with her future employer, Agnes’ struggle to find work offered a glimpse into a far less glamourous world than the one inhabited by Harry and his cohort. However, a twist of fate and her own strong will led who to what could be a promising career for both her, and her less talented (but hardworking) brother George. The only thing that threatens their stability now is the presence, and wavering sobriety, of their unreliable father, Reginald.
ROGER GROVE (Tom Goodman-Hill): It’s clear from his first moments as Selfridge and Co.’s chief of staff that Mr. Grove is not a man who takes the responsibilities of his position lightly. Businesslike and to-the-point, he manages the department store’s staff with a natural authority and an air of respectability. We soon learn, though, that the regimented behavior demonstrated in his professional role doesn’t quite extend to his life at home. Although apparently dutiful in the care of his invalid wife, Grove is in the midst of an affair that could have dire implications at home, and at work.
JOSIE MARDLE (Amanda Abbington): Although an intimidating presence on the floor at Selfridge’s, Miss Mardle is a fair leader at heart. As the head of the accessories department, she’s immediately suspicious of Agnes, whose lack of references and immediate start at a senior position seem at odds with one another. However, unlike Kitty and Doris, the two younger girls who work under her guidance, Miss Mardle has little time for pettiness in the workplace, and a good work ethic will earn her approval. But despite her matter-of-fact approach to her job, Miss Mardle struggles to maintain a secret that could threaten the career she’s worked so hard for.
VICTOR COLLEANO (Trystan Gravelle): Although he may only be a waiter at Selfridge and Co.’s Palm Court restaurant now, Victor Colleano has set his sights far higher than his current position. Outgoing and exceedingly sure of himself (a confidence no doubt bolstered by the attentions of the restaurant’s female clientele), Victor isn’t the least bit shy about letting his new co-worker, Agnes, know that he’s taken an interest in her. But with a strict company policy against relationships between employees – and Agnes’ deeply rooted desire to advance her career – it seems as though the aspiring restauranteur may have found a problem that even he can’t sidestep.
– Kate Shepherd