Thursday 14 December 2017

Andrew forgot about these good Danes

Andrew Graham-Dixon
Andrew Graham-Dixon

John Boland

On the very northern tip of Denmark, you'll find the remote coastal village of Skagen. Some time in the 1990s, I spent a couple of days there marvelling at the paintings of PS Krøyer, Michael and Anna Ancher and other late 19th century artists.

These impressionist works are among the glories of Danish art, yet oddly, indeed mysteriously, they weren't even mentioned by Andrew Graham-Dixon (inset) in the second instalment of The Art of Scandinavia (BBC4), which focused on Denmark.

In fact, and partly because of this omission, the film was less interesting than the previous week's consideration of Norwegian art, in which Graham-Dixon's bracingly enquiring approach seemed more fully engaged with what he encountered in the forbiddingly remote landscapes of that country. But he's always worth the viewer's attention and he had telling observations about Denmark's contemporary embrace of the "small and the safe" as a means of furthering "togetherness" - remarking of a lovely Copenhagen parish church that its six million bricks made it look like "holy Lego".

There was nothing holy about this week's other Scandinavian offering, yet another Swedish thriller series that's being screened by BBC4.

This is called Follow the Money and, after a very slow start, it picked up some momentum in its second hour, though perhaps not enough to encourage further watching.

Part of the problem is that the characters in this tale of financial skulduggery are either positively repellent or just plain uninteresting, especially the dreary main cop, who's also been saddled with the kind of boringly difficult home life so beloved of too many such dramas.

But The Night Manager (BBC1) continues to grip, even if it's become increasingly implausible - or was there some good reason why hero Jonathan would reveal his true identity to villain Roper's mistress?

Still, and along with many other viewers, I'll be glued to tomorrow night's finale.

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