Borgen: Denmark’s New Star

The Killing is so 2011. Sarah Lund and her jumpers? No thanks. I’d rather have BBC Four’s new import, Borgen – a Danish political drama taking the country by storm.

The programme follows Birgitte Nyborg, the surprise winner of the Danish Prime Ministerial elections, form a government, and takes us on a journey through Danish coalition politics. She does all this with her political team and spin doctors, whilst managing a marriage, and looking after her two children. Unlike The Killing, Nyborg has a tendency for flattering skirt suits, as opposed to Christmas jumpers.

Nyborg, played by the stunning Sidse Babett Knudsen, has a gritty persona to her character, with the first season displaying a slight digression on her party manifesto, whilst maintaining her impeccable standards for loyalty. It’s a wonderful quest that takes us through politics as we’ve never seen it on British television before – as it’s in Danish and subtitled.

Many expected this to be the drama’s downfall – having discussed it with people researching this post, the general consensus was ‘How can you watch a drama whilst reading subtitles?!’ With ease.

The flowing storylines, combined with developing sub-plots, love triangles, ministerial hatred and an insight into the private life of a Prime Minister has the potential to cause a web of confusion. However, the programme has been written in such a way that can be followed from any point during the season – each episode is a separate insight into the Danish government, and therefore can be viewed at leisure.

The quote thus far in the series has to be ‘I’m having scheduled sex with the Prime Minister’, which really does give you an idea of the general way the drama follows. Think The West Wing in Danish, mixed with a touch of The Thick of It, and then put it in a blender with Loose Women. Then you’re about halfway there.

Borgen is something I didn’t expect to be gripped to in the slightest. I wasn’t a big fan of The Killing – it was far too complex for me. However, Borgen is two hours a week where I sit down and enjoy the high-brow nature of a decent TV series. An import for the BBC – how novel.

600,000 people watched the opening programme of the season, compared to the 1.5m who watch it in the programme’s native Denmark. It says a lot about what we crave as the British public these days. The final episodes of the first season are shown this coming weekend, and Seasons 2 and 3 will follow shortly afterwards.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband are said to be big fans of the programme, whereas Knudsen herself is a self-confessed junkie for Downton Abbey. But don’t expect her to be lining up alongside Lady Grantham any time soon.


34 thoughts on “Borgen: Denmark’s New Star

  1. Jacques Finck says:

    What a gripping series.Thank God for the iPlayer I watchedall the episodes over two nights,could not stop.I also enjoyed “The Killing”.Thank you BBC ,more Danish series please.

  2. Kate says:

    l loved The Killing 1 and 11 and didn’t expect to get into this political drama. There is something straightforward and refreshing about the Danish style of doing things. More Danish series coming I hope.

  3. Brilliant series – I was hooked in the first half hour. I did not expect to enjoy this as much as ‘The Killing’ but I think it is even better. The characters are easier to empathise with. Having watched the final two episodes I am now waiting impatiently for the next series. More please !!

  4. Jane Southern says:

    Started to catch up with this wonderful series and now find most episodes already off the i-player! Anyone know if there will be a repeat soon?

  5. j lewis says:

    Fantastic love Borgen : interesting political dilemmas , stressful links with the Media , and gripping personal stories , all add up to my TV favourite.
    Liked the Killing but learn so much more from Borgen.

  6. chris hampshire says:

    This is without doubt one of the best programmes across the BBC. compelling viewing only trouble being not knowing when the next series is, it can’t come quick enough. get a move on BBC 4

  7. Shelley says:

    Such an awesome series – superb acting – good, continuous and contentious story line – looking forward to the return of Birgitte and the rest of this outstanding cast 🙂

    • Been a big part of the autumn schedule on the BBC! Just a shame a lot of people have missed out on it – very little advertising which makes it tough to pull new people in!

      Oh, and was a real shame to see you leave Masterchef last night! 😦 You were brilliant – your ice-cream got me back into cooking, so thankyou very much 🙂

  8. Loopy Lu says:

    Fantastic! Gripping! Watched all ten episodes in one day, couldnt stop until 3am – cannot wait for series two in the winter. Left me feeling so sorry for her – its only TV!!! Please please BBC4, more dramas like this and The Killing!

  9. Steve Priddle says:

    Without a shadow of doubt, this has been the best political drama broadcast on UK TV in years! The writing is superb with just the right amount of tension and intrigue in each episode whilst the acting is first rate. Can’t wait to see what happens in Series 2. Thank you DR and BBC4.

  10. P Houghton says:

    I cant wait for the next series, I got instantly gripped by the first series, infact it turned in to a slight obsession and I had to go to Copenhagen for the weekend to fulfill it, now thats a powerful drama !

  11. Mackenzie Bruton says:

    It’s back!
    It’s quality says a lot about the sorry state of UK tv drama productions (and the general diet of utter dross with which BBC et al nightly insult their audiences.

  12. Mark Douglas says:

    Borgen, all the comments are right, 5 star drama from where else but the stylish Danes. If they had more outside scenes of say Copenhagen it would become a great tourist draw as well. Hope the BBC bosses learn from the Danes and their drama script writers.
    Mark Douglas, London N16

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