I missed Borgen when it first hit TV screens over here, but the arrival of the third series on BBC4 encouraged me to get the box set of the first two – and we’ve been spending many nights in recent weeks catching up on Danish politics.
Borgen, for those who live in blissless ignorance, is another engrossing Danish export in the wake of programmes like The Killing and derives its name from the Danish word for castle, which is what they call their Parliament building.
And it tells the story of Birgitte Nyborg, who on the back of a stellar (Nick Clegg-like) performance in one of the TV debates, very unexpectedly becomes the country’s first female Prime Minister at the head of a left-leaning coalition.
Denmark is a country with a population barely more than half of London, but it certainly punches well above its weight when it comes to matters cultural, especially recently TV and film.
And it is the country’s relatively small size that gives Borgen a lot of its interest as without a lot of the flummery that goes with power in places like the US and even here the programme can focus on the characters as ordinary human beings.
Thus, we see the effect the job has on Birgitte’s relationship with her children and husband, but also watch as she herself grows more confident (and ruthless) as she faces down challenges from all sides.
The character of the PM’s spin doctor may have a bit of a Don Draper-like hidden past (for those of you who are Mad Men fans), but once revealed the reason for his reticence is depressingly plausible.
And I guess that’s a large part of Borgen’s attraction – it’s believable but not mundane. And has kept me glued for weeks now!