TV preview: Liberty Of London

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If you were thinking of buying all your Christmas presents online this year, then this series may make you think again.

Because, when it comes to shopping, there are few experiences quite like going into London’s famous department store, Liberty - as we saw when this documentary first aired last year.

The building is iconic. The shop is housed in a half-timber structure made from old battleships - and so are the contents, especially the famously eclectic designs which have been drawing in customers for more than 130 years.

The place is a magnet for rich and famous shoppers from around the world - or at least it was. In recent years, there’s been no secret made of the fact that it was failing, and needed some serious love putting back into it.

So how has trading faired in the year it’s been off-screen?

American managing director Ed Burstell is pressing ahead with his decision to make the department store one of the city’s premier shopping spots, and his plans include the Open Design Call, a Dragons’ Den-style contest, where hopefuls compete to have their products chosen by a panel of buyers.

In this first episode, cameras follow the 900 who arrive for the Open Call, including Nancy, who, after putting a lot of her and her husband’s savings into Nancy’s Nails, is relying on the judges liking her range of perfumed nail varnishes.

But Ed seems to be won over by Sal and Richard, who have come in with their model dog and are pitching their range of dog rain jackets. Liberty is one of the only department stores in London to welcome dogs, and the jackets would be a totally new product for the store, so are Sal and Richard onto something here? Ed wants to find out, and so invites them to open a pop-up within the store to gauge buyers’ reactions.

The programme also meets the eclectic staff at Liberty, the newest of which is Omar, who has recently started in the womenswear department. He’s easily winning over his colleagues and customers alike, with his love for selling and his flamboyant style. And he’s just the man to style the store’s Instagram shoots, as they transform everyday women into models with some of the designer wear that’s on offer at the store.

LIBERTY OF LONDON, Channel 4, Wednesday 9pm

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