Katherine Kelly talks about returning to Mr. Selfridge for the final series. The series can be seen Friday nights at 9pm on itv from January 8th.
You’re back! How happy are you to be back and was it always the plan to return for the fourth and final series?
Of course, I’m delighted to be back! It’s a total bonus that I am; it was never something that was set in stone. I always wanted to return but I was unsure whether there would be a place for Lady Mae. When I came back it felt like a fresh new job in many ways, that’s one of the great things about this show, it seems to renew itself every year. When I was first told of the storylines and the plans for Mae I absolutely loved it all and couldn’t wait to get started. This role has definitely been everything that I’d hoped for and more. She’s like a different character in many ways but also still very much the same. Mae seemed to be born ahead of her time, but as the years have moved on, the world seems to be catching up to her! She has always had a good head on her shoulders and I think, in different times, her and Harry would have been business partners or business rivals, and that’s the reason she and Harry get on so well. In the first few series, women couldn’t even vote or work so the only real way to better yourself was to marry and that’s what Mae did. In this series, the war was over, women were allowed to work and in many ways, she finally found her calling.
Is it lovely to be reunited with Jeremy and the rest of the cast?
Yes it’s so nice. It’s strange though, a lot of the people I initially worked with like Aiden McArdle who played Lord Loxley and Frances O’Connor who played Rose Selfridge aren’t here anymore, but I do still see them socially which is lovely. It’s great to be working with Trystan who plays Victor Colleano again as I didn’t really work with him much during the second series and it’s always so fun to work with him. It goes without saying that it’s an absolute pleasure to work with Jeremy. I find him so fascinating and we’ve become very good friends.
Twenty years have elapsed since the series started and we first met Mae. Can you tell us how she’s changed since then?
When we first met her she seemed to be the of leader of the pack, was at the top of the tree in society terms which was why Harry and she became associated; she helped him attract women from her class to shop at the store. Whilst externally she looked like she was in control, in series two we found out that she was in a loveless marriage and not as happy as she seemed. I don’t think she realised how restricting that social circle was as she always had to watch what she was saying and be seen in the right places. Series four is the first time we get to see the real Mae; it’s not that she’s ever shied away from this, but society has changed and allowed her to be freer.
Can you tell us how she returns to the series and how her storyline develops?
Mae hadn’t seen Harry for years and she returns to London to sell her shares; her recent divorce has ler her penniless. She lived in Paris for such a long time and she feels that there is nothing left in London for her and Harry works very hard to convince her to stay. Mae was running a fashion house in Paris, and as we know, she has a penchant for clothes and shopping. Harry asks her to stay and create a department for a ready to wear range in Selfridges, which is another first for the store. On some level I think Harry knows he’s on a downward spiral and he wants someone close by that really knows him. It’s not that she keeps him in check, because she really doesn’t – she’s very similar to him when it boils down to it. His wife’s gone, his children have grown up and he feels like he’s spiralling out of control. I think that’s why he’s so desperate for Mae to stay; she’s an old friend that understands him.
Are there any similarities between yourself and Mae?
I admire the fact that she doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what other people think of her and I’d say we’re quite similar like that. What someone else thinks of me isn’t any of my business so I try not to dwell on it. There’s always going to be people that don’t like you and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t win ‘em all, as my Dad would say. I like that Mae doesn’t run with the pack which I also don’t do, never have done and I’ve always been encouraged not to. Just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to do it. Mae sticks to her own path. She’s a hard worker and she’s really enjoying work and of course, it goes without saying that I love my work too and work hard at it. I’d say that we have more similarities in this series than previous years. As it’s the late 20s and the opportunities for women are more abundant we’ve become more aligned with each other.
Can you tell us about Mae’s outfits this series?
It’s amazing as I don’t have to wear any corsets. I absolutely hated them and I’m not ashamed to say it! It’s so much easier this series as there are no petticoats and corsets – putting them on was so time consuming and so uncomfortable. So for me, its perfect, I love the fact that you can literally just throw on an outfit – nice and low maintenance. I’m lucky enough to experience wearing both daywear and glamorous evening wear so I’ve nailed it in the wardrobe department.
Does it make you feel sad that the series is coming to end?
To be honest, I’m excited. To me, that was always the appealing aspect about this show. From day one the show knew that it was going to tell the story of Harry from the beginning, middle to the end. I think that’s so refreshing in this day and age, normally you find out that it’s the last series once it’s already aired. Artistically it’s very satisfying because it feels more like a theatre production and there has been no holding back.
Finally, can you tell us what you got in the pipeline after Mr Selfridge?
I’m very excited to be part of the second series of Happy Valley. It’ll be nice to do something modern, contemporary, and in my own accent.