As Mr Selfridge comes roaring into the 1920s, Jeremy Piven – who plays the retail magnate – reveals that this series marks the beginning of the end for Harry Selfridge…
As Mr Selfridge returns for its fourth – and final – series, how have events moved on from series three?
“It’s 10 years later and Harry’s clearly been through a lot and it’s starting to show – I don’t think they had a lot of anti-ageing cures back in the day. We pick up in the Roaring Twenties but there’s a sense it’s been going on a while – so it’s perhaps more purring than roaring!”
The last series ended with Harry learning that the woman he’d fallen in love with, Nancy Webb, was a con artist trying to fleece him for his money. How is he when we first meet him in this series?
“Harry’s always been full of positive energy but, after having his heart broken by Nancy, he’s a little numb to love and the brightness of his bulb has been dimmed. But Harry’s a man who always lands on his feet and figures out a way to survive.”
So is Selfridges still going strong?
“Yes! Harry’s incredibly ambitious and the store is still doing well. In fact, as the series opens, Harry’s introducing the ‘Queen of Time’ statue that’s still at the store to this day.”
Harry’s delighted when a familiar face returns… it’s Mae (Katherine Kelly), now known as Madame Renard. When she fears she’s going to be left penniless once she divorces her second husband, Harrry invites Mae to launch her own fashion line at Selfridges…
“Harry and Mae have a strong bond and really respect each other – she’s one of the few people who can tell him straight. Mae’s a self-empowered woman but Harry wants to help get her back on her feet.”
Harry takes Mae out to a boxing match, where he meets the infamous Dolly Sisters. Why is Harry drawn to them?
“After Nancy, you’d think Harry would be more savvy about relationships but he always seems to pick the bad ones. The Dolly Sisters are just what Harry needs in that moment, so he throws caution to the wind. But, as many will know, things are not going to end well…”
Indeed, this series explores how Harry ultimately lost his retail empire. Is it heartbreaking to play the downfall of a real-life character?
“What initially drew me to this project was how incredibly challenging it would be – how we could navigate Harry’s fall without embracing the darkness while not alienating people along the way. I think we have a real opportunity to end on a high note while depicting his fall.”
Are you anything like Harry?
“Well, you don’t have to look too far for similarities. I’m an American that came to Britain; we both had to make our way here and prove ourselves. Also, Harry was a risk taker professionally and I like to think of myself as a risk taker as an actor. However, contrary to popular belief, I’m not a guy that goes out and mixes it up until a million o’clock!”
Are you mourning the character already?
“No, because right from the beginning I knew we were going to tell this story in four series, so I knew this was coming. With American series, you never know when it’s going to end but, with this, we always knew there was an endgame and this is it!”
Mr Selfridge returns on ITV, Friday, January 8, 9.00pm.