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TELEVISION

Fans get preview of third season of The Bridge

Around a hundred journalists, fans and special guests have scored a preview of the first episode of The Bridge's third series. The Danish-Swedish co-production hits television screens in the Nordics on September 27th.

Fans get preview of third season of The Bridge
A screenshot of SVT's trailer for the new season
Lucky viewers were given the chance to watch the first episode of The Bridge’s upcoming third season in full at a gala event on Monday night, but were sworn to secrecy about the plot.
 
Swedish broadcaster SVT revealed last month that the show, called Broen in Danish and Bron in Swedish, was set to start with a scene showing a Danish woman found dead at a dinner table surrounded by creepy mannequins. Last week, SVT released a clip of the episode’s first three minutes, but the screening was the first time that a whole episode had been made available to the media or the public.
 
“It was crazy good. Several times I sat in the chair and just went 'woahh',” said Paulina Nordling, a fan who won an SVT competition to attend the event.
 
“I like the new theme. It feels like The Bridge has done it again,” she told SVT.
 
 
The viewing took place in Malmö, Sweden, one of the key locations for the show, which is filmed on both sides of the Øresund Bridge. It was held in Teknikens och sjöfartens hus, a science museum, where a new exhibition about The Bridge is about to open.
 
It is understood that the audience was introduced to several new characters during the screening, following the departure of one half of the Danish-Swedish cop duo that the show has previously centred around.
 
Copenhagen-born actor Kim Bodnia quit 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 continue to play a key role.
 
A previously-released trailer for season three shows Danish actor Thure Lindhardt, 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 the character Henrik, who is featured prominently in press photos released by Danish broadcaster DR. 
 
Alexandra Gunnarsson, another winner at the viewing, told SVT that she felt Saga remained a strong protagonist, adding that there was “a lot of tension” in the first episode. But she described it as “a pity” that the programme had lost Rodhe.
 
Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) revealed on Tuesday that the previewed episode also included jokes about Swedes using the gender neutral pronoun “hen” and included a comment from series creator Hans Rosenfeldt who said that “themes like gender and gay rights” would continue to crop up.
 
“It has become more obvious since we began writing the series in 2006 that Sweden and Denmark differ in our visions of 'poltical correctness' from the establishment. It anchors the series in the present in a way that I like,” he said.
 
Meanwhile actress Sofia Helin told the paper that she had enjoyed “taking up more space with my character”, adding that Saga “gets even more hopeless” during the third season.
 
It is not yet clear whether there will be any further seasons of The Bridge. 
 
SVT has yet to commission another instalment but Hans Rosenfeldt has said he has ideas for another season and Helin told DN on Tuesday that she would consider returning if presented with a strong script.
 
“For me, there must be a story that has not been told about Sagas life. If that's the case then I'll do it.”
 
The Bridge, which is jointly funded by Danish television network DR as well as SVT became a cult hit across Scandinavia four years ago and also has a strong following in the UK and Germany.

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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