Below the Surface

There is a new Danish crime thriller currently showing on BBC4.  It sounded very promising- made by the producers of Borgen and the Killing (both of which I loved, particularly Borgen for its superb acting, great storyline and stunning shots of Copenhagen including some interiors with lighting to die for (Danish design rocks).

Anyway back to the new Danish drama: Below the Surface is about a terrorist attack on the Copenhagen metro resulting in 15 members of the Danish public being held hostage and the whole underground system being shut down.  OK, that could happen, I guess, and I was gripped by the first 2 episodes which were fast moving and left you hanging on.  But episodes 3 and 4 just got too far fetched with mass shootings, implausible interactions between the terrorists and an uber ambitious  journalist/blogger and I gave up on it. Am hoping for something more on the lines of Borgen next time round….

Below the Surface is currently airing at 9pm on Saturdays on BBC4.

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I am back! Now that my youngest is seven months old, I feel (sort of) that life is getting a bit calmer and vaguely under control and I might have time to write this blog, and now, with two little ones, I will be writing more about Scandinavian kiddie stuff!

Also back is Scandi drama on BBC4, this time with an historical drama, 1864, produced by the same team behind Borgen and the Killing. There are familiar faces from these two programmes- showcasing Denmark’s finest acting talent, including Lars Mikkelsen, Pilou Asbaek and the fabulous Sidse Babett Knudsen (the prime minister from Borgen), here playing the greatest actress of her time.

The Danes don’t normally do history on television (they are modern and contemporary types) but 1864 is a critical year in Danish history- indeed it shaped the face of modern Denmark;  the second Schleswig War was fought by the Danes against Prussia over the territories of Schleswig and Holstein with bloody consequences.

This epic series, which is being shown in eight parts, requires our full concentration but immediately had me gripped. There are some beautiful picturesque shots of nineteenth century Denmark. There are flash backs from the present day (something I am not normally keen on) but here it is done with poignancy and thought, and I think works, reminding us of the historical importance of the 1864.

The series, already with its share of sadness, is likely to get tougher and gritter. But it is beautifully made with the superb acting- I can’t recommend it enough.


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London theatre

A new year and theatre in London is thriving with many exciting, interesting plays taking place.  Two with a Scandi connection are a fabulous production of the great Norwegian playwright Ibsen’s Ghosts, currently showing at the Trafalgar Studios after a sellout run at the Almeida. Directed by Richard Eyre, this is a hugely powerful production with some really fine acting from Lesley Manville.  It is however, pretty intense and harrowing; if you are looking for something cheerful and uplifting to kick off 2014, this is perhaps not for you.

For fans of Danish TV series Borgen (I am a huge fan), actress Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (who plays the feisty, ambitious journalist Katrine), is currently appearing in an acclaimed production of Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse. Tickets are very hard to come by but the Borgen star is apparently brilliant in it.

Otherwise for those who can’t make it to the theatre, the second series of Swedish-Danish co-production, The Bridge is currently airing on UK screens on Saturday nights.  The series is, I think, even more gripping than the first one with fascinating character development from sparring partners Saga and Martin.

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Borgen is back

My favourite of the Scandi television series, Danish political drama, Borgen returned to British screens last night with series 3 and it did not disappoint.  Former Prime Minister Brigitte Nyborg is just getting back into politics after a two and a half year break and ambitious young journalist and single mother Katrine Forsmark has become her media advisor, having split up with former spin-doctor, the complex and engaging Kaspar Juul. Brigitte has a new suave British boyfriend (with a slightly dodgy and faintly irritating accent) but remains great friends with her ex, the utterly gorgeous Philip (maybe, just maybe they will get back together)….

The new series promises plenty more personal and political drama. The acting is fabulous, the plot continues to grip and I just love the Danish lighting and interiors; Saturday nights until Christmas may now be spent in!

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Arne Dahl

Not quite sure what to make of the latest Nordic crime drama to hit BBC4’s popular foreign language series slot at 9pm on Saturday evenings;  Swedish bestselling novelist’s Arne Dahl’s The Blinded Man, has not immediately gripped me. Unlike The Killing or The Bridge, this is less Nordic Noir and more of a cop series featuring a hit team of detectives, assembled from all over Sweden, to solve a major case.  The team is led by Jenny Hutlin whom the author himself has said resembles Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect.

The story is fast moving (several of increasingly gruesome murders in the first series alone plus a good dosage of Estonian maffia).  However so far, I am missing a fascinating character such as the diabetic, opera loving Wallander; the brilliant, emotionally repressed workholic Sarah Lund or the fascinating, possible Asperger’s sufferer Saga from The Bridge.  The Blinded Man has got me absorbed in the way The Killing very quickly succeeded in doing.  However, there are plenty more episodes to go thus much more time for character development so perhaps I should give it another go.

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