An Introduction to Breathtaking Norwegian TV

A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book


Norwegian tv is one of a kind. Americans like to watch people fight for their life on a deserted island, the French like to watch famous people debate endlessly, and the Norwegians like watching something called “slow tv”. Very slow.

I started looking into it when I heard there was a show going on all summer (I believe it is every summer) on the Hurtigruten. The Hurtigruten is a boat that covers the Norwegian West coast, and the show broadcasts the view from the baot, with breathtaking views of the fjords, and then going all the way up to Cape North. The question here is: why do Norwegians watch this? They can go and see it for themselves by taking a ticket in their local travel agency or on the web as it is in their country. The thing is, many Norwegians have never taken that boat and even if they have there is something romantic about watching their coastline and loved fjords. Still, 130 hours of coastline gets old after a while, and slow, and …boring? In any case they have a good reason for watching it: over 60% of Norway’s population watched the show says The Huffington Post.

That’s in the summer. Then, in the winter comes the wood burning show, where a whole tv channel is dedicated to showing wood logs burning. During 12 hours. My thinking is that they can make a fire themselves and look at it, it would be more real than on a screen. And probably less expensive than a Hurtigruten ticket to the Cape North. But I guess it is still koselig to have that as a background in your house and involves much less risk than to make one yourself. It can be on all night without risk of burning the house Down (like a real fire would). I mean there won’t be much cliffhanger here, like finding out who killed the kid of that big log. Or wondering whether they will all survive in the end (they don’t).

Some might say slow tv is boring, but I think I’d rather watch that than seeing half naked ladies swearing in a swimming pool like in Paradise Hotel. (never watched that show in Norway but in its equivalent show in France that is what the show is all about). Also, I like both ideas as they represent something very Norwegian: their link to their beautiful nature, and as NRK’s head of programming Mr Moeklebust said, it reminds us of Norwegians “spiritual relationship with fire”. “Fire is the reason we’re here, if there was no firewood, we couldn’t live in Norway, we’d freeze.” True story.

But my favorite of it all isn’t slow tv as such, but a show that captivates the Norwegian public probably even more than burning logs and fjords seen from a boat: Luksusfellen. This is about people who are deep into their debts and more or less stopped paying their loans, yet continuing to take on more and more credit. So there are home-finance specialists from the show coming to check thier accounts, their unpaid tickets and what costs they should reduce to live far from legal trouble. In the end they reveal how much that person’s total debt is, and somehow it feels like every Norwegian in front of their tv is happy to know there is someone with a bigger debt than themselves. It is particularly humiliating when the show comes and looks into all their personal life and show what this person has been spending and for what. The one I watched was about a guy who had bought hundreds of comic books and sausages and Red Bull but didn’t pay his rent. I mean where do they find these people?

So let’s see, what are TV programmers’ next move? They did the boat, the train (12 hour from Bodø to Trondheim), the burning wood. Maybe the next tv show will be about following two Norwegians while they are fishing, just sitting there waiting for a fish to bite. Or hunting moose over several days. Or a show watching Norwegians knit a Marius gjenser. None of them should speak though, it has to be silent and relaxing. Or watching the midnight sun go up and down in Northern Norway in the summer and in the winter in case an aurora borealis comes up. In any case, there is nothing like Norwegian tv!

36 thoughts on “An Introduction to Breathtaking Norwegian TV

  1. A knitting program has already been done. They knitted for 24 hours on NRK. Hurtigruta minutt for minutt was done 2 years ago and had a rerun after that. I don’t think they will do a new live broadcast from Hurtigruta in the near future.

    I can’t remember if they have been singing from the hymn book from cover to cover yet, but I know they where looking for choirs to participate in that slow show

  2. As a norwegian visiting The US I was horrified when I watched TV over there! So stressful ads with too much information at once, and more comercial braks than actual programs. haha! I just turned it off

  3. Posts like this are always so interesting. Burning lots and stuff seems like such a strange thing to watch, although I can relate to the debt show – it’s kind of like the American fascination with the show Hoarders. We all feel a lot better about our messy closets after watching that one. I’m working on collecting foreign blogs because I find them so interesting. So far, I have an Australian living in German, a South American (I think) living in China, and a Facebook friend in Bali. I’m having a great time learning about the world from my comfy armchair!

    1. In Norway, the generation that’s 70+ are compulsive hoarders. Mainly because they didn’t have much growing up, and would hate to rid themselves of stuff that’s “easily fixed” (but wont ever get fixed)

      My grandparents on my fathers side were like this. I think the “luksusfellen” is a show that provokes our inner “skadefryd.” (The good feeling you get when you see others struggling _as well._ Horrible feeling, but it’s very “arian.” (Scandinavia + German countries are the only ones with this expression)

      1. I think the appropriate word in German is Schadenfreud, which English readers of the blog might relate to easier.

  4. Sounds like practical tv with a touch of aesthetics. I guess, it must set people in a very calm and peaceful mood, which is wonderful. Not a TV fan myself, yet found Spanish TV very interesting, with arthouse movies and quite sophisticated debates on art during late night shows.

  5. Hahaha… Holy shit. This reminds me of a channel here in Canada (Toronto, at least) where all they show is chickens roasting on a spit 24/7. They are chickens (may they rest in peace) from this restaurant chain called Swiss Chalet that specialize on roast chicken. I don’t know if it’s for marketing purposes but it sure is weird.

    1. Quite strange, seems they are neither teaching people how to roast chicken, nor making Ad in TV(are you sure? if it is, who will pay for the bill for this timeless and annoying ad.)

      Anyway, I don’t understand your title as ‘I Hate Chicken’. Is that mean you don’t like chicken as a food or…?

      Never mind, LOL.

  6. For all people who want to watch Norwegian television i will recommend some shows that are available for free on

    Karl Johan, it is a comedy show filmed form the main street Karl Johan.

    Nasjonalgalleriet, a show about art and culture.

    Kampen for tilværelsen, a Norwegian drama.

    Lindmo, a late night talk show.

    Walkabout, a show about travle and the world.

    Schrodingers katt, a science show.

    A news show about foreign countries

    Rådet, a comedy talkshow

    Jakten på Norge, a series about 200 years off Norwegian history.

    Brennpunkt, an investigative show

  7. I have lived in three countries about an equal amount of time. A famous person once said about the old truism that the most segregated hours in his nation occurs on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. I say the peoples in the world are the most divided every evening whey they watch TV in their respective countries, comfortably seated in a sofa. Watching TV is the most passive way of receiving information and most people are probably not aware that the info that they are receiving through TV is pre-selected by somebody else. Let’s turn off the TV, and read or surf on internet in which at least we are actively seeking our desired information.

  8. The reason Hurtigruten was so popular, was that 99,99999% of the population lives along the coast, and the boat visits most of the small, crappy cities on it’s way.

    If you can remember, there were maching-bands and all kinds of stupidity in every port as the boat traveled north. So, people press “record” on their VCR’s, run out and act stupid and go back and watch their “endearing” little crap-town later.

    In many aspects, very similar to going to google-street-view and watch your house from the outside, marvel at it “OUR HOUSE! On GOOGLE EARTH!”
    Instead of going outside and take a look at it, in real 3D.

    Just admit it, you’ve all done it!

  9. Hurtigruten was slow in a very different sense from Bergensbanen. Bergensbanen was real cool slow TV, like some webcam. With Hurtigruten, every freak on the coast was out, waving “Marry Me!” banners or surfing in Borat shorts. Slow, but way too uncool to be genuine Slow TV.

  10. You should defo check out the show they aired online this spring; the piip show ( It’s from inside a birds nest and you get to see hatching of the eggs. The best is inside this box decorated like a front room.
    They also did a bar version of a feeding tray. The most exciting it gets is when a cheeky red squirrel comes along to trash the place. 😊

  11. I doubt that 60% saw the entire Hurtigruten show from start to finish. No sleep for five days?? I don’t think so. When flicking through the channels I happened to crash in now and again. Sometimes there was an interesting segment or interview but most times I was just passing by. How many minutes do you have to watch to become one of 60% (in this case) As Disraeli said: There are lies, damn lies … and statistics

  12. Eye opening, to say the least. Norwegians are probably the majority of the people who bought that novelty DVD that simulates a burning fireplace with Christmas carols playing in the background.

  13. it was strange for me too, but when I saw “piip show” (filming the birds while they eat or sit on eggs) I was amazed and watched it for a few hours 🙂 it is a very nice thing when you need just to”turn off” your brain and not watch the commercials or listen to somebody speaking 🙂

  14. For those that found the Hurtigruten program too stressing, now it’s possible to watch the mountain Mannen NOT fall.

  15. Being a Swede living in Norway I can’t understand why the radio news are being sent live on national TV? ‘Dagsnytt Atten’ (News at six o’clock) it’s called. If it was the other way around you air the broadcasted TV news I could understand it. But who on earth got the idea to broadcast radionews live on TV? Seing People With messy hair, talking with headsets and microphones from a extremely boring radiostudio.The Norwegians do not even understand why I think it’s weird.

    1. It’s not just news, it’s a debate program aswell. Norwegians just call it “Dax 18″/”Dags 18”). I actually agree that it’s a bit weird, but the radio show is good, so why not just show it on TV aswell 😛

  16. You should have mentioned the Norwegian commercials! They are quite self-ironic and most times somewhat fun compared to, say, the American commercials. 😛

  17. To make some sort of balance to norwegian TV shows:
    We have two especially well known shows, both running on TVNorge ( ):
    “71 grader Nord” (71 degrees North) and “Alt for Norge” (All for Norway)

    The first is a show/competition about travelling from the southmost to the northmost of Norway by all sorts of transportation from kayaks to trains, planes and automobiles. The competitors are given challenges along the way, as “climb that mountain up and down in 8 hours”. (No, this is not slow TV, it’s edited down to 13 episodes of 1,5h each)

    The second is really all about how norwegians love to see how foreigners (americans of norwegian heritage in this case) see Norway and norwegian culture when coming here for the first time. In some ways it is sort of similar to the first, as they travel back and forth through Norway while competing with the goal of staying here for one more week. The winner of each season gets to meet their living norwegian relatives.

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