Below the Surface (Danish TV series)

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Below the Surface
Also known asGidseltagningen
Countdown Copenhagen
GenreNordic Noir
Created byKasper Barfoed
Written byPer Daumiller
Michael W. Horsten
Astrid Øye
Directed byChristian E. Christiansen
Roni Ezra
Kasper Barfoed
StarringJohannes Lassen
Paprika Steen
Sara Hjort Ditlevsen
Henning Jensen
Alba August
Sus Wilkins
Tommy Kenter
Anders Nyborg
Allan Hyde
Alexandre Willaume
Composer(s)Jeppe Kaas
Country of originDenmark
Original language(s)Danish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes16 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Nina Bisgaard
Søren Sveistrup
Adam Price
Meta Foldager Sørensen
Producer(s)Morten Kjems Juhl
CinematographyNiels A. Hansen
Ian Hansen
Editor(s)Benjamin Binderup
Morten Egholm
Running time44 min
Production company(s)SAM Productions
Original networkKanal 5 (Denmark)
Picture format16:9 (1080i)
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseApril 2, 2017 (2017-04-02) –
May 14, 2019 (2019-05-14)

Below the Surface (Danish: Gidseltagningen) is a Danish action hostage thriller drama television series, written and directed by Kasper Barfoed, that was based upon an idea of Adam Price and Søren Sveistrup. The first eight-part series focuses on an act of terrorism committed on the Copenhagen Metro, where fifteen people are taken hostage. Former soldier Philip Nørgaard (Johannes Lassen), who is head of the PET Terror Task Force, tries to save the hostages with help from members of his elite team.[1]

The basis for the series was adapted from a series of conversations between Barfoed and Danish photographer Daniel Rye, who lived as a hostage within the terrorist organisation of Islamic State in Syria for more than a year.[2] In Germany, the series is also known as Countdown Kopenhagen.

On 2 April 2017, the series premiered in Denmark on Kanal 5, and was released on DVD in Germany on 19 October 2017.[3] In the United Kingdom, BBC4 broadcast the first four episodes during March 2018.[4] The BBC pulled the series from their schedule for 24 March only following the terrorist attack in Carcassonne[5] and continued on 31 March. The second season premiered on 26 March 2019 in Denmark.


PET Terror Task Force[edit]

  • Johannes Lassen as Philip Nørgaard
  • Sara Hjort Ditlevsen as Louise Falck
  • Alexandre Willaume as SP
  • Flemming Enevold as Hans Hejndorf
  • Esben Dalgaard Andersen as Esben Garnov
  • Peder Thomas Pedersen as Simon Clausen
  • Kenneth M. Christensen as Daniel Cramer
  • Kasper Leisner as Ebbe Moller


  • Paprika Steen as Naja Toft
  • Jesper Hyldegaard as Aksel Bendix
  • Henning Jensen as Henning Nørgaard
  • Cecilie Stenspil as Anne Gornstein
  • Henrik Prip as Palle Wulff


  • Alba August as Marie Bendix
  • Sus Wilkins as Denise Hansen
  • Dar Salim as Adel Rasul
  • Lane Lind as Bodil Pedersen
  • Michael Asmussen as Joachim
  • Anders Nyborg as Ricco
  • Allan Hyde as Silas Jensen
  • Tommy Kenter as Leon


Plot summary[edit]

In Series 1, 15 people are held hostage in a subway train. A police terror taskforce led by former-Jaeger Corps soldier Philip Norgaard (Johannes Lassen) and Louise Falk (Sara Hjort Ditlevsen) is dispatched to rescue them. Meanwhile, reporter Naja Toft (Paprika Steen) acts as a go-between with the hostages and police. As the media frenzy takes hold, the country becomes divided on whether to negotiate with the terrorists or not.


Episode Title Directed by Written by Viewers Original Denmark airdate BBC4 UK airdate BBC4 Viewers
1"Episode 1"Kasper BarfoedKasper Barfoed211,0002 April 2017 (2017-04-02)10 March 2018
In Copenhagen, a Metro train is hijacked by three armed men wearing balaclavas, and fifteen passengers on board are taken hostage. Philip Nørgaard, head of the PET Terror Task Force, is assigned to the case. The attackers demand €4 million in ransom money for the fifteen hostages to be freed. They agree for one of the hostages, Marie Bendix, to take part in a live television interview with journalist Naja Toft.
2"Episode 2"Kasper BarfoedAstrid Øye211,0002 April 2017 (2017-04-02)10 March 2018
Naja is fired by the network, but the attackers are keen to keep her as their sole line of communication to the outside world. They set up a second live interview, this time on Naja's recently established blog. Philip raises a concern that the interview may in fact be a smokescreen for a live execution, and makes preparations to declare the area a 'dead zone' in order to block all transmissions signals, if necessary.
3"Episode 3"Christian E. ChristiansenLars Kristian Andersen166,0009 April 2017 (2017-04-09)17 March 2018
The attackers try to arrange another interview with Naja, but when Leon, one of the hostages, is taken ill, they are forced to call for help. Philip seizes the chance to organise a raid and sends in two teams, each containing a sharpshooter, on opposing sides of the tunnel. However, little do they realise that the tunnel has been booby trapped, and in the ensuing firefight, one of the hostages is shot by the police.
4"Episode 4"Christian E. ChristiansenPer Daumiller157,00016 April 2017 (2017-04-16)17 March 2018
Silas provides the team with information that suggests that one of the attackers may have a military connection. Relations between the attackers turn sour when one of the hostages is sexually assaulted. SP goes in search of the gang who reportedly sold the guns to the attackers. Naja finds an ally in Leon's son, unaware that he is secretly working for the attackers. Philip opens up to Louise about his ordeal.
5"Episode 5"Christian E. ChristiansenMichael W. Horsten134,00023 April 2017 (2017-04-23)31 March 2018
Philip is left stunned when the team uncover a lockup garage connected with the attackers which has pictures of him plastered all over the wall. Naja agrees to another interview, which she agrees to let Philip sit in on, but is shocked to discover that Leon's son is not who he claims to be. Joachim decides to hatch a plan to free himself and the other hostages, but the plan goes disastorously wrong.
6"Episode 6"Roni EzraPer Daumiller151,00030 April 2017 (2017-04-30)31 March 2018
In an attempt to force the attackers' hand, Philip decides to cut power to the tunnel. After a surge in donations to the fundrasier following Bodil's death, Naja alerts Louise that she is in danger, and Jonas is arrested and brought in for questioning. The death of his brother in a military strike provides the team with a new line of investigation, and Louise's voice analysis of samples taken from his platoon, K7, reveals a possible identity for one of the attackers.
7"Episode 7"Roni EzraMichael W. Horsten145,0007 May 2017 (2017-05-07)7 April 2018
8"Episode 8"Roni EzraPer Daumiller142,00014 May 2017 (2017-05-14)7 April 2018


The filming team of Below the Surface at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival

The team responsible for filming the series attended the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, where the series was promoted prior to the broadcast of the first episode.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lindberg, Kristian (14 November 2016). "Terroren rammer i metroen i ny dansk TV-serie" [Terror strikes in the subway in new Danish TV series]. Berlingske (in Danish). Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Gidseltagningen". Discovery Networks (in Danish). Archived from the original on 27 March 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2019.[failed verification]
  3. ^ "Countdown Copenhagen - Die komplette 1. Staffel". Amazon (in German). Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  4. ^ "BBC Four to air Danish crime thriller Below The Surface, from creator Kasper Barfoed and an original idea by the creators of The Killing and Borgen". BBC Media Centre. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  5. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (March 25, 2018). "French supermarket siege: memorial service held for victims". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2019.[failed verification]

External links[edit]