Borgen (TV series)
|Created by||Adam Price|
|Written by||Adam Price
Jeppe Gjervig Gram
|Directed by||Søren Kragh-Jacobsen
|Starring||Sidse Babett Knudsen
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
|Country of origin||Denmark|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||30 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original release||26 September 2010– 10 March 2013|
Borgen (Danish pronunciation: [ˈb̥ɒːˀʊ̯ən]) is a Danish political drama television series created by Adam Price. It tells how Birgitte Nyborg, a politician, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark against all the odds. "Borgen" ("the Castle") is the informal name of Christiansborg Palace, which houses all three branches of Danish government: the Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Supreme Court.
The series stars Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg Christensen; Mikael Birkkjær as her husband; Pilou Asbæk as Kasper Juul, a spin doctor; Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Katrine Fønsmark, a TV1 news anchor; Søren Malling as Torben Friis, news editor for TV1; and Benedikte Hansen as Hanne Holm, a journalist. The show's creator, Adam Price, is a co-writer with Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias Lindholm. DR, the Danish public broadcaster, previously produced The Killing, another international Danish hit series.
Thirty episodes of 58 minutes, divided into three series, have been made. The first series was shown in Denmark in the autumn of 2010, the second in the autumn of 2011, and the third on 1 January 2013. Prior to the airing of the third season, Price revealed that it was likely to be the series' final season.
The main character Birgitte Nyborg is popularly believed to be based on Denmark's first female prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, even though Thorning-Schmidt was not elected until after the second series of Borgen had been made. As 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."
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."
At the beginning of the first series, the main 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".
|Sidse Babett Knudsen||Birgitte Nyborg||Moderate leader – Prime Minister (season 1 & 2) – New Democrats party leader (season 3)|
|Mikael Birkkjær||Phillip Christensen||Birgitte Nyborg's husband – lecturer at Copenhagen Business School|
|Freja Riemann||Laura Christensen||Birgitte Nyborg-Christensen and Phillip Christensen's daughter|
|Emil Poulsen||Magnus Christensen||Birgitte Nyborg-Christensen and Phillip Christensen's son|
|Birgitte Nyborg's staff|
|Pilou Asbæk||Kasper Juul||Communications Chief for Birgitte Nyborg (season 1 & 2) – Journalist (season 3)|
|Morten Kirkskov||Niels Erik Lund||Prime Minister's Permanent Secretary|
|Iben Dorner||Sanne||Prime Minister's personal assistant|
|Hanne Hedelund||Jytte||Prime Minister's secretary|
|Birgitte Hjort Sørensen||Katrine Fønsmark||TV1/Ekspress journalist (season 1 & 2) – Campaign Manager (season 3)|
|Benedikte Hansen||Hanne Holm||Journalist on TV1 (season 1 & 3) – Ekspres journalist (season 2)|
|Søren Malling||Torben Friis||TV1 news editor|
|Lisbeth Wulff||Pia Munk||TV1 editor|
|Thomas Levin||Ulrik Mørch||TV1 news anchor|
|Christian Tafdrup||Alexander 'Alex' Hjort||TV1 programme director|
|Anders Juul||Simon Bech||TV1 news anchor|
|Lars Knutzon||Bent Sejrø||Finance Minister (season 1) – Birgitte's advisor (seasons 2 & 3)|
|Dar Salim||Amir Diwan||Green Party leader, Energy and Climate Minister|
|Stine Stengade||Henriette Klitgaard||Minister for business (Moderate Party)|
|Jens Jacob Tychsen||Jacob Kruse||EU Minister (Moderate Party), later EU Commissioner, later Moderate Party leader|
|Kristian Halken||Erik Hoffmann||Previously Vice-chairman of the New Right party|
|Julie Agnete Vang Christensen||Nete Buch||Previously Moderate member of parliament|
|Jens Albinus||Jon Berthelsen||Previously Moderate member of parliament|
|Lars Mikkelsen||Søren Ravn||New Democrats economics consultant|
|Peter Mygind||Michael Laugesen||Labour leader – Ekspres newspaper editor|
|Flemming Sørensen||Bjørn Marrot||Foreign Minister, Labour leader (replacing Laugesen)|
|Lars Brygmann||Troels Höxenhaven||Justice Minister and Labour Party deputy leader|
|Bjarne Henriksen||Hans Christian Thorsen||Defence Minister (Labour)|
|Petrine Ager||Pernille Madsen||Labour deputy leader; Minister for Equality – Minister of Finance)|
|Søren Spanning||Lars Hesselboe||Liberal leader – Prime Minister (seasons 1 & 3)|
|Ole Thestrup||Svend Åge Saltum||Freedom leader|
|Marie Askehave||Benedikte Nedergaard||Freedom|
|Jannie Faurschou||Yvonne Kjær||New Right leader|
|Signe Egholm Olsen||Anne Sophie Lindenkrone||Solidarity Party leader|
|Members of the Danish Parliament|
|Fadime Turan||Aicha Nagrawi||Solidarity|
|Claus Bue||Parly Petersen||Labour|
|Mette Kolding||Inger Hansen||Liberal|
|Laura Allen Müller||Nadia Barazani||New Democrats|
|Alastair Mackenzie||Jeremy Welsh||Birgitte Nyborg's boyfriend (season 3)|
|Claus Riis Østergaard||Ole Dahl||Communications Chief for Lars Hasselboe|
|Mille Dinesen||Cecelie Toft||Phillip Christensen's girlfriend – Paediatrician (season 2)|
Political parties and media
- The Moderates (De Moderate), Birgitte Nyborg's centre-left party in the first two series, is based on the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre)
- The Labour Party (Arbejderpartiet) is based on the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne)
- The left-wing environmentalist Green Party (Miljøpartiet) is similar to the Socialist People's Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti)
- The far-left Solidarity Collective (Solidarisk Samling) is similar to the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten)
- The New Democrats (Nye Demokrater), Birgitte Nyborg's new centrist party in the third season is based on the New Alliance (Ny Alliance)
- The centre-right Liberal Party (De Liberale) is based on Venstre
- New Right (Ny Højre) is similar to the conservative Conservative People's Party (Konservative Folkeparti)
- The national-conservative Freedom Party (Frihedspartiet) is stated by party leader Svend Åge Saltum to be a successor party to Mogens Glistrup's Progress Party (Fremskridtspartiet), just like its real-life successor Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti)
Following the 2011 parliamentary election, the Social Liberals, the Socialist People's Party, and the Social Democrats did form a coalition government, with parliamentary support from the Red-Green Alliance, and with Helle Thorning-Schmidt becoming Denmark's first female prime minister (though, in the real-life coalition, the Social Democrats were the leading party).
The New Alliance (Ny Alliance) originally opposed the influence of the social conservatism of the Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti) on the Government, as well as the alleged left-leaning opposition strategy of the Social Liberal Party. In 2008, the party moved somewhat to the political right, emphasising the liberal economic or libertarian components of its party programme, and changed its name from New Alliance to Liberal Alliance.
The fictional broadcasters and newspapers also have their real-life equivalents: the public broadcaster TV1 is based on DR1, the tabloid newspaper Ekspres is inspired by Ekstra Bladet, and the commercial 2'eren is similar to TV 2.
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||10||26 September 2010||28 November 2010|
|2||10||25 September 2011||27 November 2011|
|3||10||1 January 2013||10 March 2013|
The series has been well received by critics and audiences alike. It became a hit in the UK as well as Denmark, becoming one of several Danish series to do so in recent years. Maggie Brown of The Guardian cited the strong female characters, originality and an ability to "uncannily forecast actual developments in Danish politics" as reasons for its success. Jane Merrick of The Independent published a list of similarities from Series 2 to actual events in present-day UK politics following the conclusion of the series in the UK.
The US critics have been similarly positive, with Newsweek dubbing Borgen "the best TV show you have never seen" and bestselling novelist and Entertainment Weekly columnist Stephen King put the series on the top of his top 10 list of the best TV shows of 2012. The New York Times also offered praise, describing Borgen as a "bleaker, Nordic version of The West Wing" and saying it "finds a remarkable amount of drama and suspense in center-left alliances, pension plans and televised debates."
With several middle of the road 3/6 star ratings, the Danish media’s reaction to the third series was noticeably less positive than for the first two series. Politiken commented that the third series "ended like a soap opera" and "never succeeded in breaking free from predictability"; with Berlingske's review declaring that whilst the third series "tied up the loose ends in pretty bows and was, like the rest of the series, well performed, it was also insidiously dull". Tabloid paper BT however claimed that the series "finished on a peak" and with this third season had "become the best Danish series in years". The critique came after several months where storylines from the third series in an unprecedented manner for a Danish drama series had sparked media headlines and created hefty debates in real life Danish politics on, among other issues, prostitution and pig farming, epitomised by Danish MP Mai Henriksen from Conservative People's Party, who was widely accused by colleagues and journalists of advocating a bill of rights for prostitutes, solely because she was inspired by Borgen.
|International Emmy Award||2012||Best Performance by an Actress||Sidse Babett Knudsen||Nominated|
|Monte Carlo TV Festival||2011||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Sidse Babett Knudsen||Won|
|2013||Best International Drama TV Series||Borgen III||Nominated|
|Best European Drama TV Series||Borgen III||Won|
|Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Birgitte Hjort Sørensen||Nominated|
|British Academy Television Awards||2012||International Prize||Borgen||Won|
|Prix Italia||2010||Best TV Drama - Series and Serials||Borgen||Won|
|Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels||2011||Best TV Series and Serials||Borgen||Won|
|TV Series and Serials: Best Music||Halfdan E||Won|
|Peabody Award||2013||Area of Excellence||Borgen||Won|
Awards for the show include the 2010 Prix Italia for best drama series, a Golden Nymph to Sidse Babett Knudsen for Outstanding Actress in a drama series at the 2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival, and the Fipa Grand Prize for Best TV Series as well as for Best Original Soundtrack at the 2011 Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels. The program also won the award for Best International TV series at the 2012 British Academy Television Awards.
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The series has been sold to a number of broadcasters outside Denmark:
- Norwegian NRK1 started broadcasting the first season on Monday 11 October 2010., the second season on Monday 16 April 2012 and the third season on Monday 25 February 2013
- Swedish SVT1 started broadcasting the first season on Wednesday 2 February 2011 with over 500,000 viewers and started airing the second season on Monday 14 May 2012. The first episode of season two was the tenth most popular programme on SVT1 in its week, with an audience of 645,000 viewers. Episode 9 of series 2 was the sixth most watched programme on SVT1 during its week with 560,000 viewers. The third series will start at the end of April 2013.
- Finland's FST5 started broadcasting the first season on 31 August 2011 with both Swedish and Finnish subtitles and started airing the second season on 28 March 2012.
- US satellite and cable channel Link TV started broadcasting season 1 on Saturday 29 October 2011. Link TV is a service of KCETLink, a national independent, nonprofit, digital and broadcast network.
- British BBC Four started broadcasting the first season on Saturday 7 January 2012, with a repeat showing from Wednesday 13 June 2012 through the summer. The second season commenced on 5 January 2013. Initial overnight viewing figures were over the one million mark for the first episode of series two considerably up on the previous series debut episode. The third series began on 16 November 2013, with two one-hour episodes being shown back-to-back on BBC Four on Saturday evenings.
- South Korean JTBC started broadcasting the first season on Sunday 8 January 2012.
- French/German channel Arte started broadcasting the first season on 9 February 2012. The second season aired from 22 November 2012 and the third from 3 October 2013.
- The Dutch pay television channel Film1 Series broadcast the first season, beginning on 17 January 2012, and started the second season on 17 July 2012. The Dutch channel VARA started to broadcast the first season on Thursday 17 January 2013 on Nederland 2.
- The Flemish public broadcasting channel Canvas started broadcasting the first season on Wednesday 5 September 2012.
- The French-Canadian ARTV part of Radio-Canada started the first series on Thursday 13 September 2012.
- The Swiss public broadcasting channel SRF 1 started broadcasting the show on 28 August 2012 in German, RTS Un followed on 2 September 2012 in French.
- Greek public broadcasting channel New Hellenic Television (NET) started broadcasting on 18 October 2012. Previously aired episodes are also available on ERT's web TV. The 3rd season of the series will be broadcast in Greece on Thursday 21/03/13. Each episode attracts from 300,000 to 600,000 viewers.
- The Estonian public broadcaster ETV started airing Borgen on 22 September 2012. Season 3 is in the current run.
- Australia's SBS has purchased the series to start on 24 April 2013.
- In Turkey Dizimax Drama started broadcasting the first season on Monday 7 January 2013.
- In Croatia HRT 3 started broadcasting the first season on Tuesday 12 February 2013. The first two seasons were repeated on HRT 1 in the summer. Season 3 started on HRT 1 on Thursdays from 5 December 2013.
- In México Canal 22, a cultural channel of Mexican government, started broadcasting the first and second seasons from January to April 2013, with the Spanish name of "La esfera del poder".
- In Southern and Central California, KCET, started broadcasting the first season on 17 May 2013 and the second season on 26 July 2013. Season 3 began airing on 4 October 2013. KCET is a service of KCETLink, a national independent, nonprofit, digital and broadcast network.
- In Ireland the show airs on TG4 since 30 January 2014. It is also available on their On Demand Service.
- In Israel the show premiered on 19 January 2013 on channel yes Oh (and its mirror channel yes Oh HD), three days before the general elections in Israel. Borgen starts when the general elections in Denmark are three days away.
- In Italy the channel "La F", little cultural channel, started the first season on May 2013, with the name "Borgen - Il potere" (Borgen - The power).
- The Bulgarian Nova TV channel started airing the series on 9 June 2013 as "The Government".
- In Japan Super! Drama TV started broadcasting the first season in July 2013.
- Kosovar television broadcaster Kohavision started broadcasting the series in July 2013.
- In Poland Ale Kino+ started broadcasting the first season in August 2013.
- Slovenia started with Season 1 on 6 October 2013 and continued with seasons two and three. Episodes aired every Sunday on public RTVSLO at 8.00 pm under the title "Oblast". The series aired against stiff competition from commercial channels which showed at the same time Top Gear, a popular reality show "Gostilna išče šefa" (Restaurant is looking for a Chef), a folk music show "Raketa" (The Rocket) and later in season 3 was also up against an entertainment programme called Your Face Sounds Familiar. Season 3 ended its run on 27 April 2014.
- Macedonia started with Season 1 on 13 December 2013. New episodes run every day on Sitel TV at 9.00 pm under the title "Premierka".
- Montenegro started with Season 1 on 8 December 2013. New episodes run air every Sunday on TV Vijesti at 8.00 pm under the title "Premijerka".
- In Serbia, RTV aired all three seasons with the final episode of Season 3 airing on 1 January 2014.
- In Spain, pay television channel Canal+ Series aired all three season from December 2014 to March 2015. It is also available in Canal+'s on demand service.
- Portuguese television broadcaster RTP2 started broadcasting the series in January 2015.
- Ontario, Canada public broadcaster TVOntario acquired the entire series. The first season was aired weekly from 7 June – 9 August 2015.
- New Zealand's Sky Arts premièred the series on 5 February 2015
DR1 produced a spinoff radio serial, Udenfor Borgen ("Outside the Castle"), to accompany the release of the television show. The main character is Hans Gammelgard (voiced by Danish actor Finn Nielsen), private secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, who faces unexpected adversity after he tries to push for a controlled approach to the cultivation of genetically modified crops by Danish farmers.
Beginning in December 2013, BBC Radio 4 aired an English-language translation of the Danish radio serial, entitled Borgen: Outside the Castle, starring Tim Pigott-Smith as Hans Gammelgard. Reviewer Fiona Sturges of The Independent thought the radio version was "wholly pointless", and noted in particular that, unlike the television series, the radio program was "relegating its female characters to the fringes, casting them as secretaries and anxious mothers." On the other hand, Gillian Reynolds of The Telegraph gave the radio show a positive review, approving its complex treatment of the intricacies of the civil service. In 2015 Deutschlandfunk broadcast this radio serial with German explanations for some of the wordplays such as MOM=MON for Momentum=Monsanto.
In September 2011, it was announced that NBC would produce a US remake of Borgen, with a pilot being developed by David Hudgins and Jason Katims of Friday Night Lights fame. The NBC remake never materialized, but in November 2013 it was confirmed by Adam Price that HBO and BBC Worldwide were set to begin production on a U.S. remake of the series.
DVDs of the first two series have been made available in Denmark and the UK among other countries. Both are coded Region 2 format and consist of the complete episodes as screened on DR1 and BBC4.
In the U.S. MHz Networks released all three seasons and the complete series box set on DVD coded Region 1.
|DVD Name||Episodes||DVD release dates|
|Region 2 (Denmark)||Region 2 (UK)||Region 1 (US)|
|The Complete First Series||10||3 February 2012||6 February 2012||12 March 2013|
|The Complete Second Series||10||30 May 2012||4 February 2013||25 June 2013|
|The Complete First and Second Series||20||3 April 2013||4 February 2013||-|
|The Complete Third Series||10||14 November 2013||16 December 2013||21 January 2014|
|The Complete Series||30||-||16 December 2013||21 October 2014|
A novelisation of the first series of Borgen was released in Denmark, The Netherlands and France on 19 February 2013. The Danish release from DR in conjunction with publisher Lindhardt & Ringhof is written by Jesper Malmose. Head of DR Sales Anders Kjærsgaard Sørensen hopes to have the book available in the UK soon.
On 26 February 2013, DR Salg, the commercial distribution arm of DR, made Borgen (Original TV Series Soundtrack), nineteen tracks of Halfdan E's original compositions for the show, available for digital download on iTunes.
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