It was cold, very very cold, at the Old Truman Brewery in east London, venue for last weekend’s Nordicana festival, as the chill seeped out of the walls of the concrete room where I interviewed The Bridge star Sofia Helin. But the warmth pulsing from a huge audience of besotted and devoted fans stoked real fires in us both.
It was remarkable for me to trail in her wake as she strode to the stage following a screening of the shattering final episode. The crowd leapt to its feet, roaring, cheering and clapping. Hundreds of people, bundled up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves (did I mention it was cold?) politely bellowed their devotion, not just to a remarkably popular subtitled Danish/Swedish crime drama on BBC4 (its final episodes were watched by 1.5m people), but to the actress at its heart. Everyone wanted to know about brilliant but socially inept detective Saga Noren, and Sofia Helin – so glowingly lovely in real life and so very far removed from Saga – was honest, chatty, funny and engaging. (Co star Kim Bodnia didn’t show up as planned, for ‘personal reasons’).
I’ve hosted other events and there’s always that heart-stopping moment when you ask for audience questions and no one puts up their hand, but this was different. There were constant demands for the mic because everyone loves Saga and Sofia. By the time we’d finished, the audience was on its feet again, making even more noise than before. Blimey, it was like being on stage with Led Zeppelin. Or maybe Abba, she’s Swedish after all. Sofia Helin was clearly moved when we said our goodbyes: “I will hold this day in my heart for a very long time” she told me. So will I.