The UK’s ITV has announced a new 10-part drama series in a move that looks to build on the mega-success of its Downton Abbey. Mr. Selfridge will trace the life of the flamboyant and visionary American entrepreneur, Harry Gordon Selfridge, who created the famed London department store Selfridge’s. Contrary to Downton, which is made by NBCUniversal’s Carnival Films, Mr. Selfridge will be an in-house ITV Studios production. Created by writer Andrew Davies (Brideshead Revisted, Bridget Jones’ Diary), Mr. Selfridge is set in London in 1909 at a time when wealthy women were enjoying a new sense of freedom. ‘Mile a Minute Harry’ wanted to indulge, empower and celebrate these women; making shopping as thrilling as sex, according to ITV. Based on the book Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead, the series will shine a light on hidden moments of the history of women through fashion, cosmetics, technology and domestic affairs. Production starts in April in London with the series to air in 2013. Chrissy Skinns is producer with Kate Lewis executive producing. Jon Jones will direct. ITV is currently out to cast an American actor in the lead role.
In related news, ITV announced preliminary 2011 results with external revenues up 4% to £2.14 billion and non-advertising revenues up 11% to £922 million. The group puts the increases down to growth from its UK and international studios businesses. ITV CEO Adam Crozier, who inherited £612 million worth of debt when he took over in 2010, noted: “We’re now almost two years into our five-year Transformation Plan and our continued growth in revenue and profit – at a time when the advertising market is broadly flat – demonstrates that we’re performing in line with our strategic priorities. The increase in non-advertising revenues of £93m, driven by our studios and online businesses, is clear evidence of progress in rebalancing the Company and our ability to grow new revenue streams.”