Borgen is Killing Cameron – Is Nordic democracy a Bridge too far?

UK news agency The Press Association reports that “British PM David Cameron has urged the BBC to produce more home-grown dramas and comedies instead of relying on Danish imports such as the international hit series ‘Borgen‘, ‘Broen‘ (The Bridge) and Forbrydelsen (The Killing)”.

Apparently our Dave doesn’t cope well with reading subtitles and taking in the action all at once. Whether he also has problems patting his head while rubbing his tummy remains unknown.

Thankfully, new BBC million pound costume drama Jamaica Inn should play better at Cameron Towers – you only need to watch the pictures, you can’t hear what anyone’s saying anyway…without subtitles. Oh.

Instead of looking to Europe in general and Scandinavia in particular, Dave wants the Beeb to go West and adopt the US model of thousand-episode-premasticated-gloop. In all probability, this is unlikely to smack anyone’s gob, as any US model of anything is likely to be right up Tory Street.

Lamenting the fact that “only eight episodes of UK series ‘The Office’ were made” – 14 actually Dave – he points to seven series of US show ‘Modern Family’ (no me neither – Note to self: Watch more Sky).

A quick trawl reveals ‘Modern Family’ to be a mockumentary sitcom, depicting the usual tooth-veneered US family with bouncy hair and gag-a-minute conversation. In short, the kind of societal environment any Neo-con would prefer us to immerse ourselves in, as we slump unquestioningly in front of our flat-screens after a long day playing the part of a Hard-Working-Family.


So what exactly is Borgen doing to David Cameron?

…and ‘Broen’ (The Bridge) and Forbrydelsen (The Killing)”.

Well, for a start, all those Scandi series have people in them that look just like Hard-Working-Families. Ok maybe not the knitwear. But real people, just like you and me. If you are of the bouncy-haired, silver-fox, quibbing Dawood & Tanner variety, click here and go away.

Nordic narratives are about people with problems, not challenges. People juggling real money, not shuffling decks of neverland plastic. People with niggling personality disorders and relationship blow-outs. People living in the real world. The 99%.

To add to Dave’s subtitle woes, this will be unfamiliar territory. In fairness, he does struggle with the price of bread, in his very own quaint way. As do many of his compatriots, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

Yes, the 99% is not Dave’s natural constituency, born and bred, as he was, snugly in the bosom of the 1%. In Borgen-land, that 1% doesn’t even exist. They do have a food bank though. One food bank. In Copenhagen. Set up as much to fight food waste as to provide food security: Motto –  “From Waste to Table”.

Granted, the UK does have ten times the population of Denmark. It also has 500 times more foodbanks – and then some.

So, let’s cut the subtitle crap and do some proper interpreting. The popularity of Borgen, Broen and Forbrydelsen is shining a dazzling spotlight on the Scandinavian model of Society. A spotlight that bounces unforgivingly right back onto the UK. People start comparing. They start writing articles like this one.

Worst of all – at least as far as Dave is concerned – people start asking awkward questions. And when they don’t rate the answers they get from Dave’s friend George, they have the bloody gall to go and start up irritating rival parties, like UKIP and Left Unity.

And Hey Presto! The UK’s beginning to look a bit more like a proper democracy. A pluralistic political system instead of the elected autocracy we have had to contend with for too long.


Goodness, a Smörgåsbord of choice is laid out for our electoral delectation: Greens, Labour, Left Unity, LibDems, Tory, UKIP.

Just like at Borgen, in fact. Now all we need is a proportional voting model to match. And there’s the rub.


Dave. Does. Not. Want. That. And neither does Ed, for that matter. They really rather like the quasi-feudal Buggins-Turn government system they have now. My-turn-your-turn-my-turn-your-turn. No questions asked and only 15% of the population make a real difference at the ballot box: those who just happen to live in a marginal seat.

We know that Saturday night is Borgen night chez Miliband but also that, like Dave, he definitely doesn’t want it coming up his drive.

Dave prefers US mockumentary sitcoms to gritty Scandi realism.

What does that say about him?

Borgen, Broen and Forbrydelsen took BBC4 mainstream.

What does that say about us?

And what will happen when the twain meet at dawn?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s