Typical, isn’t it? You wait years for a Danish drama to arrive on British television, then two brilliant ones come along in quick succession.
Following two series of water-cooler phenomenon The Killing, which sparked impressive ratings, feverish Twittering and instant adoration of its star Sofie Grabol – plus her jumpers – BBC4 is hoping for similar hysteria to surround the twisting political thriller Borgen.
Channel controller Richard Klein has said, “Borgen is dramatic and entertaining, very much in the mould of The Killing, and fits BBC4’s brief to bring the best international television to the audience.”
And the show’s producer, Camilla Hammerich, has spoken of her pride “that a series about politics can travel this far and hopefully reach a large audience outside Denmark.”
Some of you may be yawning already at the dreaded “P” word. And I confess to having been wary before viewing the first episode. But within ten minutes I was hooked.
The bidding wars and cut-throat machinations are absolutely riveting and, crucially, feel authentic. In any case, Borgen moves at such a lick there’s no time to get bored. There’s wry humour, terrific acting, jolting surprises… everything you would expect from DR, the same production company behind The Killing.
And just as we couldn’t take our eyes off Detective Sarah Lund, you’ll be rooting for charismatic, unfashionably honest party leader Birgitte Nyborg as she finds herself a hair’s breadth away from government’s top job. Sidse Babett Knudsen is sensationally good in the role, and one wonders how much Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s real-life first female PM, tunes in for tips.
Lund lovers will have other reasons to watch: Soren Malling, who played Meyer in the first Killing, pops up as a TV editor. And a big readjustment is needed to accept Killing II bogeyman Mikael Birkkjær in a new role as Birgitte’s forbearing househusband. But you’ll get over it. His scenes with Knudsen are cute, funny and believable.
Inevitably, an American remake is on the agenda, but forgive me for not getting overexcited about that. The Killing proved categorically, as many international hits have over the years, that original is best.
But whatever we might think of it, Borgen is doing brisk business back home in Denmark, returning for a new term of office next year… for series three!
Borgen kicks off on Saturday with a double bill on BBC4/BBC HD from 9pm.