Tuesday 20 February 2018

The sun sets on Nordic noir

Scandinavian drama moves away from moody thrillers

Sarah Lund played by Sofie Grabol in The Killing
Sarah Lund played by Sofie Grabol in The Killing

Paul Bignell

The phrase light entertainment is not bandied about among Scandinavian television producers. From The Killing via The Bridge to Borgen, their plotlines – replete with serial killers, corrupt officials and moody detectives – are as chilly and gloomy as the winter weather. But now it appears Scandinavian TV moguls have had a change of heart: they want to cheer us up a bit.

A new wave of Nordic television dramas is on its way here to sate audiences yearning for what's become known as Nordic noir. But the producers are moving away from the grisly staples of their greatest hits. "We need to reinvent the way we tell stories. We have to do something different from The Killing or Borgen; we need to go down new paths," said Piv Bernth, head of drama at DR, the Danish equivalent of the BBC.

DR is developing three dramas that bear little resemblance to Sarah Lund's murder investigation series The Killing. Family comedy-drama The Legacy will premiere on Danish TV next year, as will the Downton Abbey-style costume drama 1864, and a recession-inspired drama, Follow the Money, will air in 2016. Industry sources believe most will make their way on to British TV screens.

Peter White of the industry magazine Broadcast, said: "I think they feel they need to lighten up because they don't want everyone to think they're a bunch of grumpy serial killers. And also, just by nature of having already successfully done these series, they'd be silly to try to do something similar."

Another drama, Dicte, has been described with typical Nordic dryness as Sex and the City meets The Killing. Maria Lang's 1949 crime novel Mordaren Ljuger Inte Ensam is being dramatised in a visual style said to be inspired by Mad Men and BBC2's The Hour.

"Two or three years ago, nobody would dare to think a Danish drama series would work internationally," said Peter Bose, a producer from the Danish TV company Miso Films. "But we realised these series work because of their brilliant storytelling."

Know your Nordic noir


Style A Danish Downton Abbey, one of their biggest productions ever: a £20m love story set during the war between Denmark and Prussia.

Actors Not yet cast

The Legacy

Style Ten-part comedy-drama. After a famous artist dies, her four children wrestle over her inheritance.

Actors Trine Dyrholm, Jesper Christensen


Style Sex and the City thriller: family-friendly drama focuses on a reporter and the relationships between four female characters.

Actors Iben Hjejle

Mordaren Ljuger Inte Ensam (Translates as: The Killer Does Not Lie Alone)

Style OK, there is a bit of killing, but with stylish 1950s sets

Actors Ola Rappace

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