The Interior of Selfridges store
The interior of the 1908 Selfridges store was recreated on a film set in large old carpet warehouses in Neasden Studios north west London. It was a huge and expensive build that replicated the Edwardian period look of Selfridges exotic shopping emporium. The craftsmanship of the art department was amazing. The complete interior was built within one massive space and could be changed around according to shooting schedules. To the viewer it looked like the original shop interior but was in fact lots of individual spaces that appeared to interconnect by the magic of television. the size of the sets caused the sound technicians problems as the sound reverberated around the large walls. Small external sounds became bigger caused by the amplification effect of the giant film set. Although the viewer saw a scene being shot in an enclosed space like Harry Selfridge's office. What was really happening was that the room sometimes only had three walls and no ceiling.
Film crew and actors watching footage on the film set of Mr Selfridge - photo pbs.org
Other problems for the sound team was the noise foot steps made on the film set wooden floors. The real shop floors in the 1909 Selfridges were polished marble tiles. They had to work out a way to dampen down the footstep background noise. The bigger the scene the bigger the problem. More film extras walking about the "Mr Selfridges" shop floor set made more noise. This caused problems for the boom mics. The use of more radio microphones helped. Their output volume could be increased to squeeze out the noise of footsteps and trollies. The sound team made sure that only the actor who was speaking had their mic fully open so as to exclude unwanted background sound. The rest was down to post filming sound input balancing.
Mr Selfridges was filmed in an old carpet warehouses in Neasden north west London - photo Neasden Studios
I find it amazing that the warehouse space shown in the photograph above was turned into the Edwardian 1909 period interior of Selfridges department store film set as shown in the photograph below.
Mr Selfridges was filmed in an old carpet warehouses in Neasden north west London - photo pbs.org
The Exterior of Selfridges store
The Historic Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent was the location chosen to recreate the exterior shots of the 1908 Selfridges store in London's Oxford Street. It is a popular film location having been used for the Hollywood movies "Sherlock Holmes" in 2009 and "Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows" in 2011. The popular BBC TV period drama "Call the Midwife" set in the east end of London during the 1950's, was also filmed in the Historic Dockyard Chatham. It is a great way for museums such as this to raise extra cash so it can maintain its exhibits.
The London Underground Scenes
The Mr Selfridge TV Drama's Art Director and Location expert had to deliver a film set that would look like a 1909 London Underground Station for scenes in the very first episode. It would have been very expensive to recreate a station from scratch, complete with a working railway line. Luckily the film crew were given permission to use the disused Aldwych underground station. The scene shot at this location featured the characters Agnes Towler, George Towler and Victor Colleano. It would later be the location where one of the female sacked members of staff committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. Including the tube train station as part of the drama made me realise how old the London underground system was. It has been bringing workers into the city centre for over 150 years. In the morning and afternoon rush hour you often hear on the radio of delays on the tube due to a passenger under the train. Unfortunately being run over by a tube train and electrified on the rails has been a popular method of suicide since the railway system was invented. It must be a horrible way to die.
The interior film set of Selfridges Department Store for Mr Selfridge TV Drama - photo pbs.org
London Edwardian Street Scenes
Arnold Circus and Calvert Avenue in the East London was an ideal location to film some of the exterior scenes in the Edwardian period drama Mr Selfridge. They were side roads which would not cause too much disruption if they were closed off for filming. The buildings in the street had not changed very much since they were built. The use of different coloured bricks and tiles to add interest to a building was typical of this period. All the art department and film crew had to do was remove or cover the modern street furniture and road markings. With the addition of some early vehicles, horse drawn delivery wagons, and lots of film extras in 1909 clothing the viewing public were transported back in time. Notice the glass building on the left by the white van. It is out of place. That building was built after the original was blown up by a German bomb in World War Two.