A Norwegian Perspective on British Television
I remember the first time I sat down to watch television in the UK: It was a couple of months into my first year of University, and I had been invited to my friend’s house to watch something. I can’t remember which friend or what show we were watching, I do however remember the commercial breaks; and how little they made sense to me. I remember sitting gobsmacked looking in disbelief at the screen, mouth open, confusion written all over my face, and once it was over turning to my friend stating something along the lines of: ‘What… what??’ To this day I still find it amusing to attempt to guess what the British commercials I watch are about, and still after 4 years of living in this country my accuracy is dodgy at best. In comparison to British commercials Norwegians are very clear about what they are selling from the get go, which I assume is why British commercial producers decided to go down a different route, so as to entertain more than sell… which makes sense… in theory.
In comparison with Britain, Norwegian daytime television is somewhat laid back.
A TV Channel by the name Dave
During my first encounters with British television – since the initial commercial mind boggle – I remember being puzzled over the fact that there existed a TV channel named Dave; many a conversation during my British adventure has been spent in the attempt of comprehending why a TV channel would be named like a person, which to me appeared very strange. However, looking back at it now – when Norway has come up with TV channels named Fem, Max and Vox – I guess we can’t really say anything on strange channel-naming.
Jeremy Kyle and Daytime Television
In comparison with Britain, Norwegian daytime television is somewhat laid back. Mostly populated by the Norwegian show ‘Good Morning, Norway’, American soaps and shows like ‘Dr. Phil’ and ‘The Dog Whisperer’, Norway has nothing on the line-up of British daytime, where shows appear to be battling each other by attempting to be louder and more extreme than the next. One show in particular stands out to me: the notorious Jeremy Kyle Show. Granted, I have only ever watched a few episodes of this show, but even a brief encounter during channel surfing brings the strangest topics and accusations to the surface.
Another noticeable difference is the sheer amount of cooking shows produced in Britain (much to the appreciation of the Norwegian population). Over the years Norway has imported everything from Jamie Oliver, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry to the Hairy Bikers in order to entertain and entice Norwegian appetites.
I believe that Norwegian television wants to be more like British TV when it comes to the amount of critically acclaimed high quality TV dramas produced.
No-one cares about the Winter Olympics
In Norway – as our winter takes up the majority of the year – we are obviously very enthusiastic about any kind of winter sport; even the more obscure ones, like curling. Therefore it surprised me – at the advent of the Winter Olympics in Sochi (2014) – to discover that the British population do not find it as enticing as we do back home, and that many Brits consider the Summer Olympics more popular and entertaining. This came as a shock, as the Norwegians consider it to be quite the opposite. In hindsight I guess it does make sense to prefer the one where the athletes of the country are better in their individual sports.
Norway, the copycat
In many ways I believe that Norwegian television wants to be more like British TV when it comes to the amount of critically acclaimed high quality TV dramas produced. Over the last few years Norway has had an increase in high quality productions (due to more funding from the state); we are nowhere close to the level of Britain –neither in quality nor quantity – but we are slowly and steadily catching up.
Ellen has a First Class Honours degree in Film and Television Studies from Aberystwyth University. She has worked on a variety of short films and productions, including Hinterland, and also has experience of working as an editorial assistant for NRK. Ellen worked at K7 Media as an intern in June 2015.