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14 December 2013
Is it trite to say that I open this entry with much sadness? The final two episodes of Borgen air in the UK tonight and (the Radio 4 spinoff and probable fanfic notwithstanding), that will be the end of our time with Birgitte, Katrine, Kasper and Torben. The coverage over the last 11 days has shifted in tone: now interviews with the stars plug their next work. And, increasingly, Borgen has become a shorthand for a certain type of politics. So let’s get cracking, on this last Sidse Saturday:
The crop of episodes that looked at different policy issues got the specialists from those topics hooked – and using the Borgen hook. Slugger O’Toole applied the prostitution debate to Northern Ireland. And here’s a quite detailed but very readable piece that refers (but not in the way you’d think) to Birgitte’s cancer.
The technical aspects of Borgen have not really been discussed much (though I do occasionally talk about tone-and-that in How to win power… (hey! if I don’t give this book a blatant plug from time to time, who will?). Here’s an odd but interesting paragraph from Broadcast.
Borgen pops up on quite a few of the year-end ‘best TV show’ lists. Here’s one from Empire, and here’s one from the Guardian. If you want more, you can check out, well, any self-regarding newspaper TV section or TV blog…
So, as if you didn’t know, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen is playing in Coriolanus which means Birgitte has been everywhere: here on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, here in The Spectator, here in Stylist, here in Metro.
Sam Leith came up with a ooh-let’s-be-contrary article in the Standard that I probably rather missed the point of.
And certainly missing the point is Scot-Buzz which almost makes interesting observations but drowns them in clichéd sneering about the BBC and a general misunderstanding about what the show is ABOUT.
It seems unlikely that Indianfeminist would pepper her pages with articles praising the so-called Taxpayers Alliance. Though my jaw hit the floor when I saw that she’d referred to the Kasper and Katrine storyline as ‘lukewarm’. Check it out.
Finally, a brilliant blog by Joy Wilkinson who was a writer on the Radio 4 spin-off that airs next week. A fantastic insight into the writer’s world.
That’s it for now. I’ll see you next week, in the cold, post-Borgen world.
3 December 2013
Oh dear. It had to happen. The first you-only-like-it-‘cos-it’s-subtitled review. If I remember correctly, the otherwise-reliable Rachel Cooke wrote pretty much the same stuff during the last series. It’s click-bait, of course, but I like the New Statesman and they could probably do with the money so here it is anyway.
Besides, it’s important not to get too carried away. Personally, I haven’t found the third series quite as perfect as the preceding two. Kasper’s ever-changing haircuts are a constant reminder that the show’s producers are trying to juggle Pilou Asbaek’s schedule. The Torben storyline isn’t yet as arresting as it could be (though I’m sure there will be a fantastic climax to it) and while I understand why Søren Malling was chosen as the male lead/media storyline lead over, say, Ulrik, these choices shouldn’t be obvious to the viewer. But I rewatched episode 16, Them and us, last night, and remembered the highs to which this show aspires. More on this in due course…
Pilou Asbaek is of course a man in high demand. Here’s a piece in the Irish Indie with a great picture at the snappily-named Subtitled European Film Festival (you have to flick to picture 2).
And here’s a piece in the Telegraph that looks behind the prostitution debate. Interesting reading.
For now, hej hej!
1 December 2013
We’re more than half way through the series now with just two weeks to go. But let’s not get too disheartened – that stil means four hours of top Danish drama to go – and there’s still a good deal to chew over from what we’ve seen so far. I’m still looking at series 2 and the follow up to How to win power and lose everything, and each of the series 3 episodes I’ve seen, I’ve seen only once. So (given that I watch each episode several times before commenting on it) that’s a LOT of Borgen to dissect, deconstruct and discuss. All is not lost!
We start with something that isn’t really about Borgen per se, but about ‘matters arising’ from the series – the status of women in politics. Jane Merrick in the Sindie writes a thoughtful piece looking at the issue as it relates to Westminster.
Now onto Borgen proper. You shouldn’t click on any of the links on here if you’re not up to date (or don’t mind knowing what’ happened). You probably won’t need an introduction to Vicky Frost’s Guardian blog but here it is anyway. Keith Watson’s snippet in Metro is worth a look if only for the rather scary picture of Sidse.
There’s a more direct source of analysis: Adam Price’s own comments on the episodes are as usual worth a watch.
I previously provided a link to an interview that Kim Renfrew did with Sidse but here’s the, er, writer’s cut, with some really revealing answers from the woman who plays everyone’s favourite centre-party leader. (I say everyone but if that were literally true then Birgitte not Kruse would have won the Moderates gig. Anyway.)
Finally, here’s Sidse whooping it up while Mads Mikkelsen gives it his best Mads-dads-dancing. (Hat tip to Kate Wiles.)
Missed anything good? Let me know. ‘Til later.
26 November 2013
Hello. Do you want some more? Here are some more!
The BBC Media Centre is working overtime this week. First up is a blog by Sue Deeks, the head of programme acquisition, who lifts the veil a little on procurement and tells us about what’s coming up next in the Saturday 9pm slot.
And there’s more news about the ‘eco-drama’, Borgen: Outside the Castle. It’s set in the civil service so perhaps Niels Erik will turn up. Here’s the official release by the BBC. And here’s Radio Times’ take. And here’s The Guardian‘s coverage. And the same story in the Daily Telegraph. Frankly, read one, read them all. But either way there’s over three more hours of Borgen which can’t be bad. Actually, it could be bad! But let’s hope it’s brilliant.
Down under, they’re showing series two. But this piece from The Australian is worth a look because it references an interview that Sidse gave Le Monde in which she mentions Tony Blair. (And they said the global village would never catch on.)
Back in series 3, the fourth episode – on pig farming – has caused amusement in some quarters and consternation in others. Compassion in World Farming have taken the opportunity to issue a statement, which says – among other things – that 90% of EU piglets and over 80% of UK piglets have their tails docked.
And here’s what Adam Price had to say about the episode.
I don’t know whether I’d call Borgen a pot-boiler, but here’s a blog from RTE that does exactly that. It’s more affectionate when you read the actual article, at least.
There’s a huge amount of interest in Birgitte Horte Sørensen appearing in Coriolanus, and Mark Lawson has interviewed her for the Guardian. As you’d expect, there’s more than a mention of everyone’s favourite Danish political drama.
Finally, here’s an article that has Borgen in the title and then no mention in the actual body copy. ‘Braveheart and Borgen’ is an article from the Sunday Herald which discusses Scottish independence. It’s interesting if a little heavy-going, so just to encourage the subeditor, here’s a link.
23 November 2013
It’s the pork episode tonight! Fantastic!
There’s a real treat from the Telegraph to get us there: an extended interview with Sidse (who had a birthday this week. I’m not telling you which one, but the Telegraph does).
And Hugo Rifkind in The Times takes a humorous look at the show (paywall). I like Rifkind on Radio 4’s News Quiz but I think he’s trying too hard here and some of the jokes are a bit old, but if you’ve got access to the website it’s worth a look.
More interesting is an African political perspective on the double bill from the second series, in which Birgitte holds a peace summit. It’s worth a read – as is the (so far only) comment below the line.
There’s a ‘web exclusive’ from York Uni’s student paper – stop playing on Facebook and watch Borgen series 1, it suggests. Fair enough.
Finally, we’ve got Borgen on the radio to look forward to. Tim Pigott-Smith stars in a five part ‘eco-drama’ spin off which is going to be the Radio 4 Afternoon Play in December. It starts the Monday after series 3 ends so maybe we should call it series 4. No doubt there will be discussions in the usual places about whether it is canonical!
Oh, and How to win power… has received another nice review: ‘Very enjoyable and highly recommended’, it concludes. That’s very kind!
That’s it for now. See you at 9.00!
20 November 2013
Not much that’s new this evening, so instead, shout-outs to two events that really should be on your calendar.
The Nordic Film Festival starts next week with rare and exciting films. Primarily in London, but also with screenings in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it’s just the job to warm these suddenly miserable evenings!
And Nordicana is back, in a bigger and better venue and at a suitably noir time of year (ie. February). Tickets are slightly dearer but are this year all-inclusive which actually makes them better value. Get yourself to London on 1-2 February 2014.
That’s it for tonight. There won’t be an update tomorrow but I’ll be back on Friday or as soon after that as there’s some new and decent coverage to report. Tak!
19 November 2013
Good evening. Borgen coverage is winding down now but there’s still a bit to see.
Of course, The Guardian needs its daily Danish fix, and today it’s in the form of a more-or-less passing reference in Andrew Collins’ ‘Telly Addict’ video.
Following Phil Hogan’s Observer article (see below), the Evening Standardhas what might almost be a riposte, by Anne McElvoy.
And speaking of the Standard, I was excited to see coverage in the Irish Independent until I realised it appeared in the Standard last week. At least Rosamund Urwin’s article has some new pix to accompany it.
That’s all for now. You’ve got less than one hour to…well, you know. See you tomorrow.
18 November 2013
Evening. Here’s the latest crop of coverage.
The Guardian leads the field – partly because I seem to have missed out a short video interview with Adam Price which went up on Saturday. But they have also paid homage in one of today’s leaders, which appears with the customary bad-tempered comments below the line. They follow up the Observer review and series blog with a rather more amusing review by Sam Wollaston – it’s a welcome change of pace and thoroughly recommended.
Which is not to say that the Independent’s review is boring. Any piece of writing that compares Lars Knutsen with Bill Oddie is worth a look. Also in the Indie is a piece by Yasmin Alibhai Brown, who isn’t pleased with Birgitte’s new wardrobe. Yeah, I think Kasper’s a sell out by growing his hair. All that hostage stuff in The Hijacking must have gone to his head.
Looks like I also missed a piece on Huffpo – Caroline Frost interviews Adam Price, who calls Pilou Asbaek a liar…
Last but not least for tonight is a piece by Adam Sweeting for theartsdesk.com. If Lars is Bill then Jeremy (Birgitte’s new man) is Jeremy Hunt. What? Check it out.
Have I missed anything? Let me know. More tomorrow but not until I remind you that you’ve got just over 24 hours to get How to win power and lose everything at veryspecialprice if you haven’t already, etc etc.
17 November 2013 – the Whoops! update
Two things I missed:
A long interview in The Scotsman with Alastair Mackenzie. Fellow anoraks may quibble with some of the description of the show but it’s a lengthy interview full of revealing insight and with plenty of details about Mackenzie’s pre-Borgen work.
And here’s a blog piece from the friendly and delightful Nordic Noir discussion group at the University of Stirling.
17 November 2013 – The day after the night before
Well, what did you think? Plenty to think about from last night’s double bill.
Now the coverage moves from hype to reality. The difference is best seen in The Observer. Elizabeth Day does a lifestyle piece with Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, eating Japanese food rather than a smorgasbord. I mean, come on, where are our stereotypes? Anyway, it’s a nice article: detailed and sympathetic. On the other hand, Phil Hogan’s Rewind TV column seems designed to wind up long-term fans. He calls Philip ‘blameless’ in his break up with Birgitte and decides that she is rubbish as a parent and that Katrine must be also. Or, as @weeladybird1981 puts it, ‘Birgitte bad mother get into the kitchen’.
Over at the Telegraph, there’s an enthusastic review which spends about 100 words discussing one exact ‘half-second of screen time’, but which tails off a little, not before Jasper Rees suggests that Birgitte has actually handed over the role of female lead to Katrine. Controversial.
More as I find it. In the meantime, here’s the obligatory reminder that How to win power and lose everything – my episode guide to series 1 – is on special offer until Tuesday. It’s 99p in the UK Amazon store and $1.59 in the US store.
16 November 2013 – Evening update
Radio Times have published an interview with Alastair Mackenzie. Let’s be honest, I wanted Philip to get back with Birgitte and I’m going to have to get over it. Mackenzie talks about kissing Sidse and, slightly more bizarrely, how his role is based on the real life of Stephen Kinnock. Which I suppose is a bit odd given that Mrs Stephen Kinnock is Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who as any fule kno is the real life Statsminister and not a politician in exile trying to start another party. All this is getting a bit too meta.
You should all follow @BorgenWriterJGG – Jeppe Gjervig Gram – on Twitter. Extremely nice gentleman.
How to win power and lose everything will be just 99p (normal price £2.46) in the UK Amazon store and $1.59 (normal price $3.94) in the US Amazon store from midnight tonight (GMT) until 11pm GMT on Tuesday.
Next time I blog the season will have started. Happy watching, everyone!
16 November 2013
We’re beginning to see reviews with real spoilers and plot points. For example, one British magazine has published its review of episodes 3 and 4. We’ll leave that for another time, and it’s an extreme example but do take care if you’re the kind of person who likes to watch first, read later.
In no particular order:
Esquire interviews Adam Price (who refers to Borgen as a feminist project written by men…)
There’s footage from the BAFTA discussion: on the panel are writer Jeppe Gjervig Gram (who is extremely nice on Twitter), producer Camilla Hammerich and actors from the show.
Radio 4’s Front Row has an interview with Adam Price.
In its third article this week, the Guardian gives a run down on the new series. This has the most spoilers of anything I’ve posted so far – so beware.
Here’s an old interview with Sidse by Kim Renfrew – definitely worth a look.
And another shout out to the Scanoir fan page which has new pictures.
I’ll be blogging later with news of a special offer on How to win power and lose everything so watch out for it.
15 November 2013
Hello! It’s about 24 hours to go before Borgen 3 hits the airwaves and there’s loads to get your teeth into.
Last night’s Newsnight with Sidse and a clearly excited Kirsty Wark. Sidse’s already called the Scottish independence vote – and if you didn’t know she thought Philip was a wuss, you do now! And just to mess with our heads, the whole thing is lit with candles (though there’s a rather sad looking lamp in the corner).
I’ve not had a chance to listen to it yet, but the New Statesman podcast includes an interview with Adam Price.
Adam popped up on Richard Bacon’s FIVE LIVE programme too.
And the Guardian have done us proud. Stuart Jeffries talks to Adam Price (mild spoilers) in a fairly detailed and interesting interview – one for the politicos, complete with West Wing quote.
And Mark Lawson has a critique of series 3. Sometimes all the breathless excitement can be a bit much and Mr Lawson – who chaired the roundtable discussion at Nordicana – is just the man to inject some perhaps needed objectivity.
See you tomorrow…
14 November 2013 – lunchtime
Here’s a lunchtime update.
There’s an excellent profile of Borgen creator Adam Price in the Independent. There’s new material on Price’s ‘other’ work as a celebrity chef, and a rather scary reference to an American remake that has also been picked up by DigitalSpy. The direct quote seems a bit vague, though – Price says merely that he’s ‘heard’ about HBO’s plans – but that could be a ruse to throw us off the scent.
DigitalSpy have also got a separate interview with Price. There’s a whiff of spoiler towards the end of the piece – or at least it’s set my mind guessing (and fearing) what he’s referring to. On the other hand, Price confirms that Pilou Asbaek’s smaller role in series 3 is offset by more airtime for the brilliant Søren Malling. I’m sorry if that constitutes a spoiler. I’m not telling you what Torben actually does on screen!
I usually enjoy Michael Deacon’s parliamentary sketches for the Telegraph, and he’s written a very interesting piece on whether we in Britain are too cynical to watch TV drama that shows politicians as fully-rounded human beings. (Incidentally, that was one of the conclusions of the Borgen roundtable discussion at Nordicana earlier this year.) He also mentions a couple of upcoming British dramas with a bit of political flavouring.
Andy Lawrence’s excellent Euro but not trash blog warns that it includes spoilers but if I were you I’d take the risk and have a look. There are some great stills too.
And speaking of great pictures you should also take a look at the excellent Scanoir Facebook page, which always seems to find unusual shots and is well worth a visit.
14 November 2013 – 1.00am briefing
With Borgen returning to the BBC this coming Saturday, there’s enough media coverage around right now to sate even the most eager Scandi-fan. Where to find links to the best online features? Right here, that’s where. I’ll be bringing you a daily round-up of all the latest news, but let’s start with some of the coverage over the last couple of weeks.
We’ll be concentrating on the British media, but we start with a piece on Forbes.com: Borgen – the Best Political Drama on TV takes a US-centred view. Nothing new for seasoned fans but Melissa Silverstein’s frustration at her own political system shines through. (She does claim that series 3 has already been aired in the UK which is of course not the case but which is perhaps based on an assumption about the quality of British TV that makes me quite proud!)
Back on 3 November, Mail Online published a profile of Katrine, or, rather Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, who’s getting ready for the London stage. Being the Mail there are lots of pictures of Birgitte looking dead glam, but there’s also a cool shot with Benedikte Hansen (a still from series 2?) and a fun Q&A. ‘Right now the UK is the place for me,’ runs the headline, though Birgitte doesn’t share her views on how the Mail compares with her old stamping ground, Ekspres.
Birgitte also features in a piece by Rosamund Urwin in the Evening Standard. There’s some stuff on her visit to the House of Commons to see Prime Minister’s Questions, her role in Coriolanus, and a discussion on Borgen’s feminist agenda.
Finally, busy Birgitte’s featured in Time Out with some interesting vignettes. I’m not including reviews of the programme at this stage (partly because I don’t want to read too many spoilers) but if you’re desperate you can find one on the Time Out website.
British actor Alastair Mackenzie pops up on the Huffington Post, in which he says he was ‘star-struck’. There are a few stills from series 3 but not much more. In a separate (but not much longer) piece on Huffpo, there’s a comment from Birgitte on how Katrine Fønsmark finally gets some screen time with Birgitte Nyborg, in stark contrast to the two previous series.
The Guardian has long been a champion of Borgen and includes a long-ish piece by Maggie Brown, including quotes from Birgitte, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Lars Knutzen and DR exec Nadia Kløvedal Reich. Sadly, Reich confirms that the third series will be the last.
Queen of the recap blogs, Vicky Frost, meanwhile, has been tweeting her progress: she’s watched episodes 1 and 2 – which means a return to the Guardian website on Saturday night. She doesn’t rate episode 1 but episode 2’s a good’un, she reckons.
Sidse’s the focus of a whimsical and enjoyable piece at theartsdesk.com – fellow actors and one of Borgen‘s writers pay tribute to her acting and comic timing.
And speaking of watching, Twitter has gone mad with excitement with news (and leaked pictures) of Sidse’s upcoming interview with Kirsty Wark on Newsnight – Thursday at 10.30pm.
Meanwhile, down under, they’re enjoying series 2. An interesting piece in theconversation.com looks at what the success of Danish drama means for Denmark’s reputation.
And there are a couple of blog posts, too. Check out Adrian McKinty’s piece that pleads for low audience figures, and The Clockwatcher’s Escape, which compares Birgitte to Cagney and Lacey.
That’s enough for now. Come back this time tomorrow for more updates. If I’ve missed anything out, leave a comment!