Monday, 14 January 2013

The Paradise Vs. Mr Selfridge

I love a good period drama, ‘Downton Abbey’ made me crave Sunday nights, Sally Hawkins in ‘Persuasion’ never fails to give me goose bumps and moving to the 60s ‘The Hour’ was absolutely brilliant (although slightly more challenging). However I’m slightly confused about ITV’s new show ‘Mr Selfridge’, mainly because it seems to be pretty much the same show as BBC’s ‘The Paradise’. 

I loved ‘The Paradise’ as it was seemed to me to be something quite new, showing woman actually working and having some power during that time rather than running on hills in the rain, twisting their ankles and waiting for a potential husband to rush to their side on a horse.  The costumes and colours were sumptuous and there was just the right mix of mystery (did Moray really kill his own wife?) against the slightly more trivial plot lines.
So, initially, when I heard that ITV were filling the period drama slot left by Downton on Sunday nights I was pretty excited yet it does seem to me that it is just not different enough from ‘The Paradise’.  Moray and Mr Selfridge are incredibly similar characters, both driven men who strive for success and don’t seem to mind trampling a few toes in the process (and who are a hit with the girls!) While Moray was a believable character with obvious issues, I feel that Mr Selfridge is very hard to believe, ironic seeing as he is based on a real person.  I’m not sure if it’s the acting skills or the plot but there is just something about him that doesn’t sit right with me, many of his lines sound quite insincere.  They also both look incredibly similar!

Also, Denise and Agnes are almost the same character, the slightly lowly girl given an opportunity to succeed and becoming very headstrong in the process and attracting attention from male colleagues in the shop while also seeming to alienate herself from female colleagues. 

While I am enjoying the show for it’s costumes and the way that the era is presented, it has just come too soon after the Paradise so that comparisons are inevitable and I find myself making these comparisons while watching the show which is a real shame.   Although last night I loved the cute artist picking up Mrs Selfridge in the National Gallery, a perfect ‘meet cute’ – that never happens in real life does it?


  1. BBC released The Paradise early as they were aware that ITV's Mr Selfridge was bigger, bolder and had much more production value with an award winning writer. Both went into production around the same time but BBC's only chance to get a stronghold on the audience was to release it early in the hope that vierwers, like yourself, would not want to watch another department store drama. Viewing figures suggest Mr Selfridge has a stronger following.

  2. I agree. I don't like Mr. Selfridge nearly as much, production values be damned.