'Even though Harry is doing the wrong thing, you enjoy the ride'
As ITV's lavish period drama Mr Selfridge prepares to shut up shop for good, Jeremy Piven tells Gemma Dunn why the fourth and final series promises to be the best yet
Retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge may have hit rock-bottom in the last series of Mr Selfridge, but Emmy Award-winner Jeremy Piven remains "grateful" to see his troubled character through to the closing stages.
"When I first met with the producers, they said they wanted to do the show in four series; that was our goal and that's what we're doing," says the 50-year-old star.
Reprising his lead role in the hit ITV period drama, Piven joins series regulars Tom Goodman-Hill, Ron Cook, Amanda Abbington, Amy Beth Hayes, Trystan Gravelle, Sacha Parkinson and Samuel West - plus new cast members Sacha Dhawan, Lottie Tolhurst and Mimi Ndiweni - to document the fourth and final chapter in the turbulent life of the American retail entrepreneur.
Having been left "heartbroken" after discovering his fiancee Nancy was a con woman at the end of series three, Harry is dealing with his bad luck in the only way he knows how - by doubling his efforts with "work, and quite a bit of play".
But while it's a pattern we've seen before, this time the backdrop looks somewhat different ...
Skipping forward nine years to 1928, the 10-episode finale finds Harry at the pinnacle of his power and public celebrity - a retail giant at the heart of the roaring Twenties.
Showcasing a period of rapid social change and progress in fashion, music and technology, the mood in London is distinctly "modern", and with his man-about-town status, it's not long before Mr Selfridge's attentions flit between his two main vices: gambling and women (in this case, the infamous Dolly sisters, played by Emma Hamilton and Zoe Richards).
"I feel like Harry was born for the Twenties," declares former Entourage star Piven.
But as rumours of Harry's latest fling light up the social circuit, he can't foresee his demise, and, despite warnings, Harry loses sight of everything he worked so hard to create. "Even though you may feel Harry is doing the wrong thing, you enjoy the ride and can see why he participates. In this particular case, he's having the time of his life, but it does all come crashing down on him.
"He built this incredible palace (Selfridges & Co on Oxford Street) for people to be whoever they wanted to be, and he really loved being the host.
"One of the things I love the most about the show is that while it's based on a true story, you can never really guess where the drama is heading," the New York-born actor adds. "In my opinion, what makes British drama the best is that it doesn't burn its steps; it takes its time telling the story, plays with pace and has fun with it."
The final series of Mr Selfridge starts on ITV on Friday