Monday, 7 January 2013

TV Drama as Research

First we had the BBC's lovely series about the opening of a fashion department store, The Paradise, in the final months of 2012, and now we have ITV's flamboyant new series, Mr Selfridge, about the opening of the famous mega department store in London.

I must admit I wondered if this new series was going to be just too similar to The Paradise, and it does have several very similar types of characters, but having watched the first episode of Mr Selfridge last night I'm sure I'll enjoy this just as much for different reasons. The one major advantage of both for historical fiction writers is the visual display of such gorgeous fashion, hairstyle and accessories and with the two stores being a few decades apart, they cover a good length of period.

The Paradise was based on Emile Zola's book, Au Bonheur des Dames, and is set in a northern English town in the 1870s, while Mr Selfridge is based on a book by Lindy Woodhead about the real-life American entrepreneur who started Selfridges in London in 1909 and is dramatised by Andrew Davies. Although I prefered the gentler pace and particular characters of The Paradise so far, there is no doubt that historical novelists can pick up many background details of life in those times. I'm sure I won't want to miss a single episode!



Debs Carr said...

I thoroughly enjoyed The Paradise and was also wondering if Mr Selfridge would be too similar. I'm relieved to say that I now have a new programme to watch on a Sunday evening. Great fun.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Debs - glad you're enjoying it too!