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TELEVISION

The Bridge to be ‘just fine’ without Danish star

One month before the start of The Bridge’s third seasonits writer insists the show "works just fine" without its former main character, Danish policeman Martin Rodhe, as his Swedish counterpart Saga Norén moves into focus.

The Bridge to be 'just fine' without Danish star
Season three of The Bridge will include Danish actors Nicolas Bro and Thure Lindhardt. Photo: Baldur Bragason/SVT
The long awaited third instalment of The Bridge (Broen) hits Danish television screens on September 27th, but it will be missing one half of the Danish-Swedish cop duo that has been the focus Scandinavia's biggest crime show since it launched in 2011.
 
Copenhagen-born actor Kim Bodnia quit the programme after the second season because he did not like the way his character Martin Rodhe developed. But Sofia Helin, who plays Saga Norén, the unusual autistic Swedish investigator assigned to work alongside him, will return.
 
The programme previously focused on the duo solving crimes linked to the Øresund Bridge, which connects the Danish capital with Malmö in southern Sweden. The two police officers were seen developing a close relationship despite having very different personalities and their interactions formed a huge part of the show.
 
 
“When Kim told us he didn’t want to do it any more, it was clear that there was a black hole,” writer Hans Rosenfeldt told Swedish broadcaster SVT this week.
 
Kim Bodnia's Martin Rohde will not be in the new season. Photo: Carolina Romare/DR
Kim Bodnia's Martin Rohde will not be in the new season. Photo: Carolina Romare/DR
 
But he insisted that the show would continue to entertain viewers by looking at cultural differences between Danes and Swedes.
 
“We provide other Danes around Saga, which works just fine, and actually allows us to explore other sides of her,” he said.
 
However he said that the show’s atmosphere would shift following the exit of the warm-hearted Martin Rodhe and his sometimes sloppy approach to both policing and relationships.
 
“It will become something completely different this time. This is very much Saga's season, earlier the focus was much more on Martin and his private life.”
 
Fans have raised concerns on social media that the third season will not be able to live up to their expectations, due to the departure of Rodhe. A trailer for the third season gives viewers a glimpse of Danish actor Thure Lindhardt (0:44 mark), known for roles in Danish films like Steppeulvene and Nordkraft as well as appearances in international hits like the Fast and Furious franchise. Lindhardt will play a character named Henrik and press promos for the third season feature him posing alongside Helin, but Danish broadcaster DR is tight-lipped about just who will fill Bodina’s role as the main Danish character. Well-known actor Nicolas Bro, who is seemingly in just about every Danish television production, will also join the cast.
 
 
While fans might lament the loss of Bodina, they can perhaps find solace in the fact that The Bridge’s third season will be “more Danish than ever” when it comes to the production crew. 
 
The Bridge, which is a joint venture betweenDR and Swedish broadcaster SVT, became a cult hit across Scandinavia four years ago and also has a strong following in the UK and Germany. It has also inspired a short-lived American remake. 

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TELEVISION

Danish shows take TV world by storm

With original boundary-breaking content, thrilling plots and charismatic actors, Danish television series have captivated audiences worldwide in recent years.

Danish shows take TV world by storm
Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen plays the lead role in Ride Upon The Storm (Herrens Veje). Photo: Mads Joakim Rimer Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The latest show to hit the small screen is “Ride Upon the Storm” (Danish title: Herrens Veje), which is being distributed in almost 80 countries with a debut later this month in Britain, where it will be broadcast on Channel 4 by the station’s foreign language arm Walter Presents from January 28th.

The new drama was created by Adam Price, the BAFTA winner behind the acclaimed drama “Borgen”, which followed the political and personal tribulations of a Danish woman prime minister.

Danish shows, with both exoticism and gritty realism, have quickly soared in popularity beyond their initial local Scandinavian viewership, Pia Jensen, an Aarhus University communications associate professor specialising in television series, told AFP.

Long known for the Nordic noir crime genre, the big international breakthrough for Danish shows came with “The Killing”, a hard-hitting series following a Copenhagen female cop's investigations.

Then came crime thriller “The Bridge” in 2011.

The Nordic noir genre has proven so popular that its aesthetic and themes are now being replicated beyond Scandinavia's borders, with shows such as “Shetland” and “Broadchurch” made in Britain, Jensen said.

For foreign audiences, Denmark as it is shown on television is “an exotic society, something to aspire to because of the welfare state and the strong women characters”, she said, referring also to the 2010 hit “Borgen”.

She added, clearly amused, that it's “as if Denmark is the fantasy land of gender equality”.

Paradoxically, in this almost utopian world, the characters are “normal” people with whom audiences can identify, according to Jensen.

But now Danish TV series have moved beyond Nordic noir.

“Ride Upon the Storm” is a character-led drama about faith and a family of Danish priests, dominated by Johannes Krogh, a tempestuous God-like father battling numerous demons.

Actor Lars Mikkelsen, known from “The Killing” and his role as the Russian president in Netflix's “House of Cards”, plays Johannes, a role for which he won an International Emmy in November.

Mikkelsen “has set new standards for the portrayal of a main character in a TV series”, the show's creator Adam Price told AFP.

Johannes “is the 10th generation of priests, it's a huge burden that haunts him and he lets it haunt his sons too”.

His eldest son Christian is lost and at odds with the family and society, while younger son August is married and following in his father's priesthood footsteps before becoming a chaplain for troops stationed in Afghanistan.

“In the Bible, you have lots of stories of fathers and sons and brothers. That was the perfect ground to tell (a story) about masculine relationships, the competitive gene between men in a family,” Price said.

Elements from “Borgen” can be seen in Price's new venture: the efficient prime minister Birgitte Nyborg and Johannes Krogh, who is headed for the top as Bishop of Copenhagen, are both characters passionate about their work.

“But Johannes reacts differently than Birgitte (does) because his ambition is not within the world of politics, but with a more supernatural power,” Price said.

Thoughts on faith, religion and spirituality are mixed with a complex study of family.

“Religion is sometimes something imposed, as authority can be imposed on our children in a family. And both are dealt with in 'Ride Upon the Storm',” he said.

Price is currently working on “Ragnarok” for Netflix, a six-part Norwegian coming-of-age drama based on Norse mythology but set in a modern-day high school.

The second season of “Ride Upon the Storm” just wrapped up on Danish public television DR, which produced the series, and had around 500,000 viewers.

“Danish producers are mainly thinking of a Danish audience. It has to stay relevant to the Danish public and that's why DR keeps experimenting,” Jensen said.

“Some of the shows will travel and some won't.”

READ ALSO: The Bridge's Porsche 911 to be auctioned for charity