Borgen is my new obsession

The new Danish conspiracy thriller is beguiling, amusing - and believable, says TV editor Alison Graham

The driest description imaginable of Borgen would be “it’s a drama centred on Danish coalition politics.” But that’s like saying “The Killing is about the troubles of a family-owned Copenhagen furniture removal company.”


Borgen, an eight-part series that began on BBC4 tonight, is about so much more. It’s about everything, in fact, all the things that every single one of us does every day; making allegiances and alliances, shafting people, loving them, hating them. And at its heart is politician Birgitte Nyborg (the sensational Sidse Babett Knudsen, such a lovely name it’s hard to resist saying it out loud).

Birgitte, with her electric smile, is Borgen’s fulcrum; on the cusp of becoming Denmark’s first woman prime minister, who rides a bike to work and who has a terrific home life. She’s normal! She isn’t tormented by demons and she leaves the office at a decent time to see her kids and her sexy, supportive husband (played by Mikael Birkkjaer, Strange in The Killing II).

But Birgitte is clever and ambitious, a heroine struck from the same mould as The Killing’s Sarah Lund (why are the Danes so good at TV heroines?). And Borgen has much in common with The Killing – and not just the fact that both series are made by Danish broadcaster DR. It’s a grown-up drama featuring people you think might possibly actually exist somewhere.


Borgen is a conspiracy thriller. There’s no murder, but there’s a significant death and the discovery of a compromising document that brings down a PM. Borgen is funny, too, and saucy – the relationship between Birgitte and her husband feels like a real, sturdy marriage with in-jokes and joshing (like the lovely scene in episode one where Birgitte tries and fails to fit into a too-tight skirt as hubby throws in amused comments from the sidelines). It’s my new obsession.

Is Borgen as thrilling as The Killing? Post a comment and let us know…