If one is wondering whether Scandinavian crime fiction gets any exposure in Britain, one only needs to consider the references to Scandinavian crime in current British tv-comedy. I have just seen the opening of The One Lenny Henry (BBC1) in which two Swedish-speaking police officers on a crime scene are concerned that they have been sent Lenny Henry to help out with the investigation despite it being a morose Scandinavian detective drama – and Lenny, it is implied, is far from known as morose, or Swedish. Over Christmas the Absolutely Fabulous reunion featured a cameo by Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund in a dream sequence where Edina is pretending to speak Danish to Lund – fabulous indeed. Though, I have no idea what this says about the international reception of Scandinavian crime fiction.
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For all the viewers of the Killing I and II on BBC4 the past year, the airing Saturday of the new Danish political TV-thriller, Borgen, should be great news. Nordic Noir fans should be warned, if you still have Borgen queued on BBC iPlayer, however, that Borgen, now with its third season in production by Danish Radio Fiction, is in a very different genre than the nail biting and dark police procedural of the Killing. Viewers of the Killing should by now be experts in the Danish political system (Both I and II had important political side plots), coalition governance, and the dark side of the Danish welfare state – and should be able to follow Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, one of my 4 favourite Danish actresses!) with little effort: her balancing act between ‘staying true to ones values’ and the desire for political power; the modern woman’s Herculean task of being the perfect mother and wife while being ambitious and having a demanding career in a ‘masculine game’. This theme, and such female characters, have become expected of Scandinavian drama, thrillers and crime fiction (read this excellent article “Nothing like a Dane” in The Independent about the strong female leads in Danish TV-drama). Obviously Birgitte Nyborg and Sarah Lund are very different characters though both strong willed – and when the BBC will show Broen/Bron/The Bridge later this year we will welcome yet another interesting female character to the list (in my view The Bridge is by far the most thrilling crime series to come out of Scandinavia). I would love to hear some opinions about the difference in their characters, and also about the way Danish politics are being represented in these dramas, The Killing and Borgen.
Actress Sofie Gråbøl will be in London for a The Killing II preview and a Question & Answer session at BAFTA in late October. The event is presented by BAFTA in partnership with BBC Four and the Embassy of Denmark in London.
The BAFTA TV Preview and Q&A Interview with actress Sofie Gråbøl and senior producer Piv Bernth takes place at BAFTA’s Princess Anne Theatre on October 31st at 18:30.
Unfortunately tickets are already sold out for this event, before the Book Club even heard that a date had been found for the event. Hopefully, some book-club members got tickets and can blog and tweet from the event.
Visit the Danish Embassy website for further information about the event and the forthcoming second season of The Killing.
BBC is yet to announce when the first episode of The Killing II will be aired.