Norway’s national TV channel NRK has been hosting what has been dubbed “slow but noble television” for some time now and it’s interesting to note that the concept has taken off quite well.
The Slow Television concept started back in 2009 when NRK was tasked with airing a broadcast to mark the centenary of the Bergen railway line. Producers decided that rather than just broadcast a normal, featured documentary about the railway line, they would go a step further. What they did instead was to film the entire, seven hour rail trip from Oslo to Bergen. Admittedly it wasn’t just scenes from the windows of the train, as NRK did include the odd bit of archive footage to keep things interesting.
Watching a seven hour rail journey sounds like it might have been boring. Surprisingly, however, the show was very popular with Norwegian viewers. According to NRK, around 1.2 million viewers (which comprises around a quarter of the population of Norway) tuned into the show for at least a portion of the journey, and apparently they enjoyed it too.
Yet another Slow TV feature was a show which comprised of 134 hours of a cruise ship, sailing around the Norwegian coast all the way to the Arctic. Again, viewers loved it and no doubt the views were astounding along the way.
The next step in Slow TV history was even better. NRK broadcast a burning log fire. The glowing fireplace was apparently accompanied by some cultural news and expert advice on the choice of wood, how to build a fire, etc. Rune Møklebust, producer for NRK, called the 12 hour prime-time show, “Slow but noble television” and again, it went down well with viewers.
The next offering in Norway’s slow but noble television broadcasting was a knitting show. What NRK was actually hoping for was to beat the world’s knitting record, but unfortunately they failed. However, this elegant piece of Slow TV did feature the making of a man’s sweater literally from the shearing of the sheep and the spinning of the wool, all the way through to casting off the last stitch on the final product.
Lise-May Spissoy, the producer of the program told The Local in Norway that it took the participants over eight hours to produce the jersey. This was apparently because it was their first time of trying to achieve such a feat and that the sheep’s wool was very “heavy and fatty” at that time of year. They might try again in 2014 though.
Getting to the present time, the very latest in Slow Television was shown on Friday. The program was aired to mark the bicentenary of Norway’s constitution and featured a 200-minute lecture on Norwegian history given by Frank Aarebrot a professor at the University of Bergen. Named 200 years in 200 minutes, the lecture took viewers through the history of Norway, decade by decade, from 1814 right up until the current year.
Rather than the quick gratification of most of our television entertainment, Slow TV is probably popular because it gives the viewer so much more information and detail. No doubt viewers were gripped by the full length history lesson and once again enjoyed Norway’s slow, but very noble (and definitely educational) television.
By Anne Sewell