Slow television

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Slow television, or slow TV, is a term used for a genre of live "marathon" television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length. Its name is derived both from the long endurance of the broadcast as well as from the natural slow pace of the television program's progress.[citation needed]

The concept is a modernization of artist Andy Warhol's slow movie Sleep from 1963, which showed poet John Giorno sleeping for five hours and twenty minutes.[citation needed] The concept was adapted to local TV broadcast in 1966 by WPIX, to VHS video tape in 1984 by the British company Video125, to satellite TV in 2003 by Bahn TV, and to live TV in 2011 by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.[citation needed]

The latest evolution of the concept started with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of the longest driver's eye view at that time, showing the complete 7-hour train ride along the Bergen Line (Bergensbanen) on 27 November 2009.[1] It was followed by the live coverage of the Hurtigruten ship MS Nordnorge during its 134-hour voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes starting on 16 June 2011.[2]

Both events received extensive attention in both Norwegian and foreign media, and were considered a great success with coverage numbers exceeding all expectations and record ratings for the NRK2 channel.[1][3]

Earlier slow TV shows[edit]

The Yule Log[edit]

Main article: Yule Log (TV program)

Starting at Christmas 1966, WPIX showed a looped film of a yule log burning in a fireplace, accompanied by classic Christmas music playing in the background. It was broadcast without commercial interruption.

Railfan videos[edit]

Video 125[edit]

In 1984 British television cameraman and director Peter Middleton formed Video 125 (named after InterCity 125), with the intention to shoot slow TV films of British Railway lines from end to end. The decision to form the company was made after Ian Allan Publishing declined to publish a driver's eye view film he had made of the Settle-Carlisle Line.

Following the success of the first film, the company continued to make Driver's eye view documentaries of British rail lines. Among their publications one can also find films of the Lisbon tram lines, Paris Metro, London Underground, and the Eurostar trains.

Bahn TV[edit]

Main article: Bahn TV

As part of Deutsche Bahn, Bahn TV showed almost daily driver's eye view films of German rail lines under the title Bahn TV In Fahrt.

Its public satellite transmission lasted from early 2003 until 1 July 2008.


  • Most European tourist railroads have had driver's eye view films created of their lines.
  • Peter Ruppert has made films of the tram lines on the German town Gera. There are 4 DVDs from 1997–98 and 1 Blu-ray from 2009-2010 available for download using Bittorrent from his home page.

Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation[edit]

Between 2009 and 2013, NRK, Norway's public broadcaster, has produced several slow television programs that have gained high ratings. Sakte-tv (English: Slow-TV) was named Word of the Year in Norway in 2013.[4]

Bergensbanen – minutt for minutt[edit]

The Bergen Line with the principal stations used in the 2009 broadcast.

The television program from the train journey from Bergen to Oslo along the Bergen Line (in Norwegian: Bergensbanen) was aired on NRK2 27 November 2009. The event was planned as part of the 100 year anniversary for the existence of the Bergen Line. Four cameras were used to produce the documentary, showing both exterior and interior views, along with interviews with both crew, train conductors, historians/past workers and passengers. The train went through 182 tunnels. Archival clips from the Bergen Railways 100-year history were shown at those points in the recording, to make the final show last exactly as long as the train trip. The show was first broadcast on November 27, 2009, while the recording had been done earlier during summer.

The program was followed by an average of 176,000 viewers, and 1,246,000 Norwegian viewers[1] were watching the event at least once during its screening time. The event received attention in both Norwegian and foreign media, and has in relation to the Slow TV event Hurtigruta minutt for minutt, received both renewed attention and appreciation, mainly among its Norwegian followers.

Following the success from the Bergen Line NRK also filmed the Flåm Line in May 2010[5] and the Bergen Light Rail in June 2010.[6]

Hurtigruten – minutt for minutt[edit]

MS Nordnorge, the ship used in the live broadcast in 2011/

Starting on 16 June 2011 at 19:45 CET, NRK started transmitting live and non stop along the Norwegian coastal express (in Norwegian: Hurtigruten) from aboard the ship MS Nordnorge during its 134-hour voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes.[2] A total of 11 cameras, three fixed, a bow camera and a gyro stabilized Cineflex camera[7] obtained photographs of the boat.[8]

The broadcast was shown live on NRK2 in Norway, and on the internet for international viewers and Norwegians abroad, available in Norwegian[9] and English.[10] The broadcast received greater attention and popularity than the previous Bergensbanen minutt for minutt show, both in media and by viewers.[11]

During the weekend 17 June 2011 until 19 June 2011 2,542,000 people, or approximately half the Norwegian population, visited the live broadcast. At the most, 692,000 people followed the broadcast at eleven forty-five Sunday night, as the boat was heading into the Trollfjord in Lofoten. The broadcast also tried to set a world record in being the world's longest live television documentary waiting for a registration in the Guinness Book of Records. The record so far was 13 hours against their 134 hours.[12]

In 2012, «Hurtigruten – minutt for minutt» was included in Norsk Dokumentarv which is the Norwegian part of the Memory of the World Programme[13]

National firewood night[edit]

On February 15, 2013, NRK broadcast the 12-hour-long broadcast "Nasjonal vedkveld" (litt.: National wood fire night) [14] on the topic of firewood. Nearly a million people, or 20 percent of the population, tuned in at some point to the program. The broadcast was inspired by the best-selling book by Lars Mytting, “Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning”. The show consisted of four hours of ordinary produced television, followed by showing eight hours of a live fireplace. The show received international attention, with an article about the broadcast published in the New York Times,[15] and in a section of The Colbert Report.

National Knitting Night[edit]

On November 1, 2013, NRK aired "12 hours of non-stop knitting" which an attempt to break the Guinness World record for knitting a sweater from beginning to end[16] which an NRK spokesperson described as "the feminine response to the firewood show."[17][18]

Salmeboka – minutt for minutt[edit]

On November 28–30, 2014, NRK aired a 60-hour broadcast, «Salmeboka – minutt for minutt» ("Hymn Book, minute by minute"), of about 200 choirs with 3-4000 singers and soloists performing the whole contents of the Church of Norway's national hymnal, published in 2013. Most of the performances took place live at Vår Frue Church in Trondheim, though some recorded performances came from 11 other sites as distant as Karasjok in northern Norway and Decorah, Iowa. The church was open throughout the show, with more than 16000 visitors dropping in. Totally 2.2 million viewers watched the program at some time, with an average of 87000 at any one time. The average age of viewers was 62. It attracted 12% of TV viewers on the average, which is double the normal rate.[19][20] [21]

Interaction through social media[edit]

During the 134 hour broadcast of the Hurtigruten trip, the show received massive attention among Norwegian followers in the social media arena. Both on Facebook and Twitter and Blogs people talked about the trip and how they followed its progression. More than 63 000 people followed the trip as fans through the trip's Facebook page[22] and the Twitter hashtag #hurtigruten were on top of the most popular Norwegians words on Twitter since the departure from Bergen.

As the boat moved north, place names popped up in the top 10, such as #Sortland and #Trollfjord. Around midnight Saturday there was one tweet about Hurtigruten per six seconds. During the broadcast, cities competed in arranging the greatest welcoming committee at the different harbors and three different wedding proposals were captured during the 136 hours.[23][24]

International attention[edit]

The «Hurtigruta – minutt for minutt» (litt.: Hurtigruta - minute by minute) broadcast was also shown online with many viewers abroad; 46 percent of online viewers were outside Norway. The major countries were Denmark (7%), United States (4%), Germany (4%), United Kingdom (4%) and France (4%) Several international articles were produced on 'the Norwegians special television preferences'.[25][26][27][28][29]

The Norwegian Embassy in Seoul organized during the days of the broadcast a big campaign on the subway to promote Norway. At the time of the broadcasts start Thursday morning a billboard showing live footage from the broadcast was installed on Samgakji subway station in downtown Seoul. Korean media showed interest in the exhibition, characterizing it as "the most creative PR stunt they've heard of in a long time".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Inger-Marit Knap Sæby (2009-09-11). ""Bergensbanen minutt for minutt" ble helgens store snakkis" ["The Bergen Line - minute by minute" was the word on the street]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  2. ^ a b Anders Hofseth (2009-09-16). "Hurtigruten: 5 day TV marathon in the midnight sun". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  3. ^ Hege Bakken Riise; Kirsti Falch-Nilsen (2011-06-20). "Hurtigruten sprenger alle rekorder!" [Hurtigruten blows all records!]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  4. ^ Gabrielle Graatrudn, Cathrine Elnan (16 December 2013) NRK-fenomen ble kåret til årets nyord NRK. Retrieved 20 December 2013 (Norwegian)
  5. ^ Vidar Gudvangen (2010-05-18). "Filmar Flåmsbana minutt for minutt" [Filming the Flåm Line minute by minute]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  6. ^ Jon Ståle Carlsen (2010-06-24). "Bybanen i Bergen minutt for minutt" [The Bergen Light Rail minute by minute]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  7. ^ "Cineflex V14HD camera". 
  8. ^ Bjørn Erik Rygg Lunde (2009-09-20). "Hurtigruten: Noen glimt bak kameraene" [Hurtigruten: Glimpses from behind the cameras]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Øystein Lie (2011-06-21). "Ja til mer slow TV" [More slow TV please]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  12. ^ a b Hege Bakken Riise (2011-06-16). "Sørkoreanerne følger Hurtigruten direkte fra t-banen" [South-coreans follows Hurtigruten live from the subway]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  13. ^ Kjetil Kjær Andersland, Rebecca Kjær (Hurtigruten – minutt for minutt er norsk dokumentarv NRK.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Lyall, Sarah (2013-02-19). "In Norway, TV Program on Firewood Elicits Passions". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ "National Knitting Eve". 
  17. ^ "Norway plans 12-hour TV show of knitting". 
  18. ^ "Norwegian broadcaster to air National Knitting Night". 
  19. ^ "Salmesongen vekker oppsikt i utlandet". December 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Choir marathon gets underway". Nina’s News from Norway. November 28, 2014. 
  21. ^ "2.2 millioner var innom salmemaraton på NRK". December 1, 2014. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Her frir Kim fra Hurtigruten" [Here Kim proposes at Hurtigruten]. 2011-06-20. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  24. ^ Vibeke Lund Pettersen (2011-06-21). "Nytt frieri på Hurtigruten!" [New proposal at Hurtigruten!]. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  25. ^ Wojciech Moskwa (2011-06-17). ""Very slow" live cruise show a hit on Norwegian TV". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  26. ^ Bjoern H. Amland and Malin Rising (2011-06-22). "Norway goes cruise crazy during live TV broadcast". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  27. ^ Robert Briel (2011-06-19). "nrk sets pace with slow-tv". Broadband TV news. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  28. ^
  29. ^

External links[edit]