Birgitte Nyborg

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Birgitte Nyborg is a fictional politician who is the main character in the Danish television series Borgen. In all three series of the drama, the character was played by Sidse Babett Knudsen.[1]

At the beginning of the first series, the character goes by her married name of Birgitte Nyborg Christensen, but, in the course of the series, she divorces her husband Philip Christensen and is thereafter known simply as Birgitte Nyborg. In the first episode, Birgitte is the leader of a minority political party, the "Moderates". However, as a result of a sequence of events following a closely fought general election, she finds herself a compromise candidate for the role of Prime Minister of Denmark and remains in this position until the end of the second series. In the elapsed time between the second and third series, Nyborg loses her position and becomes a businesswoman and public speaker, returning in the third series to form a new political party, the "New Democrats".[2]

Origins of the character[edit]

The character of Birgitte Nyborg is popularly believed to be based on Denmark's first female prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt,[3] even though Thorning-Schmidt was not elected until after the second series of Borgen had been made.[4] Adam Price, the creator of the series, has stated that: "I definitely want you to believe there is a shred of idealism in Birgitte Nyborg that is real. She's also become a very professional political being, but there is definitely that idealism, and that's important."[5]

Sidse Babett Knudsen, who plays Nyborg and assists in developing the script, described her relationship with the character in an interview. "They liked to see a woman feeling guilty and I didn't like that... I think [Nyborg] should be responsible for her feelings. And when she has to make unsympathetic decisions, she should stand by them. I don't want her to feel sorry for herself or suddenly become a soppy mess in her private life, because you wouldn't believe her as a prime minister if she did that."[6]