Danish journalist and author Lise Nørgaard died late on New Year’s Day after a short illness, her family confirmed to media in Denmark on Monday. She was 105.
Nørgaard created Matador, the 1970s TV series loved by millions of Danes. The series remains hugely popular in 2020s Denmark, decades after its release.
The impact of Matador means that Nørgaard’s passing will be considered a loss of one of Danish television and popular culture‘s most influential figures.
In a statement, Nørgaard’s daughter Bente Flindt Sørensen said her mother was “deeply grateful for her many friendships with young and old alike, which she maintained until her death, and for the incredibly many people she met along her way, or who followed her, and who have embraced her with great love and overwhelmingly positive interest.”
“She was a frontrunner and a role model and great inspiration for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said.
“We have all benefited from her love, life experience, wise advice and positive and humorous approach to life. We are grateful to have had her in our lives for so long, and she will be greatly missed,” she said.
Born in 1917 in Roskilde, Nørgaard was a trained journalist and worked for Danish newspapers of record Politiken and Berlingske during her career.
In the 1960s, she wrote for the weekly magazine Hjemmet, giving advice to young women and girls on topics including sex and gender roles. Her views and advice often clashed with patriarchal outlooks of the day.
She also wrote manuscripts for two films starring Dirch Passer, the prominent Danish comedy actor of the 1960s and 1970s, and several episodes of seventies series Huset på Christianshavn.
Despite her impressive career up to this point, most Danes will remember Nørgaard primarily for her legendary series, Matador.
Made by broadcaster DR in the late seventies and early eighties but set during a period spanning the years 1929-1947, Matador follows a range of characters and families spanning the class divide, portraying life in a provincial town as it goes through generational change and historical upheaval.
The depth of Matador’s characters, brilliance of Nørgaard’s writing and polished acting by its large cast has long-since secured Matador a position as one of Danish television’s all-time great shows.
Mixing melodrama, light humour and intrigue, the series has almost become part of the national subconscious over the years. Many Danes can recall scenes, characters or memorable lines from the show – even if they were born decades after its original broadcast.
Millions of DVDs and VHS tapes of the series have been sold, setting records according to DR.
Despite its popularity and impact, Nørgaard told the journal Journalisten in 2017 that “I think it’s a bit boring that things always have to be about Matador”.
“I feel that I’m a journalist first and foremost,” she said.
In a programme made by DR in 2017 to commemorate her hundredth birthday, Nørgaard said “being old doesn’t make you something special”.
“You are just someone who has lived long,” she said.
Nørgaard will be buried at St. Pauls Church in Copenhagen, according to the family statement, which also requests peace to honour the memory of their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother until the funeral has taken place.
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