Norway’s ‘Slow TV’ gets record-breaking Views
by FFE EU News staff
Norway’s public broadcast station NRK has just replaced their usual prime time drama fare with more hours of knitting, fishing and sightseeing.
‘Slow TV,’ a literal reality TV showing uninterrupted footage of snail-paced activities like cruise liners and cracking log fires, has become an entertainment sensation in Norway, attracting a record-breaking number of views.
NRK head of programmes Rune Moeklebust said ‘It’s literally reality TV: something authentic that’s shown in real time without being edited down.’
The idea behind Slow TV started in 2009. To mark the centenary of the Bergen railway, cameras filmed a non-stop 7 hours and 16 minutes worth of footage following the train’s journey from Bergen to Oslo. The film captured breathtaking scenery, and duller moments inside a tunnel were filled in with archive footage.
The resulting film was easy to produce and soon embraced by NRK. Their broadcast was likewise a runaway success among TV viewers: around 1.2 million people, or a quarter of Norway’s population, watch at least a part of the filmed trip.
Moeklebust then tapped on cruise liners for more videos. ‘When I asked a few days later if I could borrow the airwaves for five and a half days to broadcast live from the Coastal Express (a cruise liner touring the Norwegian coast) I was told “yes, of course”.’ 3.2 million people watched the cruise, and hundreds visited ports to see the ship itself. Queen Sonja was also featured in the trip as her royal yacht and the cruise liner crossed paths.
For many Norwegians, Slow TV has become like a drug. Others have also felt they were actually part of the trip, enjoying the scene.
The formula for the show’s success is simple: a lengthy introduction on the history of the activity and an examination of the activity itself. For example, a show on knitting begins with how sheep is sheared and ends with the last stitch made on a jumper.
Moeklebust said that ‘Slow TV attracts all categories of the population: young people intrigued by the novelty and strangeness of it, and older viewers who find the topic or voyage interesting.’
Norwegian University of Science and Technology sociologist Arve Hjelseth explained why Slow TV was so popular, saying ‘When most stations are opting for the same programme formats, it’s tempting to dive into a niche that goes against the grain.
‘Slow TV is a chance for people to sit down, relax and contemplate.’
Not everyone is receptive of the format, however. Critic and Oslo School of Management principal Trond Blindheim said ‘It’s incredible that the public can sit and stare at this for hours.
‘Most people watch idiotic TV… I’m literally incapable of saying anything sensible about people who are glued to TV sets watching the bow of a ship and people on a shore waving their arms about.’
But NRK is not about to drop their hit show, and Moeklebust is toying with the idea of taking it a step further: he plans to run a programme on dissecting time, showing how clocks are made and letting the clock tick hour by hour. He said ‘When someone tells me you can’t show that on television I take it as a sign: it means I’m on to something.’