Norway’s National Knitting Evening

Norway on Friday night, staged it's latest "slow TV" offering, a nine-hour marathon of knitting in an attempt to beat the world's "sheep to jumper" record. Here is the live feed, hopefully with an English language commentary.

Norway's National Knitting Evening
Guri the sheep enjoying her last days of full-fleecedness - NRK

Guri, a Norwegian white from the island of Radøy, on Friday night becomes most famous sheep since Dolly when she is to be sheared in front of more than a millions of viewers for NRK's nine-hour knitting marathon.

The “National Knitting Evening”, the latest of NRK's surprisingly popular 'slow TV' programmes, involves a team of Norway's finest attempting to beat the world knitting record in the “from sheep to sweater” category.

Starting from 7pm, NRK will broadcast four hours of knitting programming, before Guri is sheared at around eleven in the evening. Her wool will then be spun and knitted live to an accompanying expert commentary.

The nine-strong team, one of whom sheared and the rest of whom are knitting, are trying to beat a record of four hours, 51 minutes and 14 seconds, set by an Australian team.

The knitting event has already been widely covered by the international press, and NRK is hoping the its live web stream of the programme, will win a decent audience.

“National Fire Night was watched but one million Norwegians, and we're hoping for the same for National Knitting Night,” Lise-May Spissoy, the programme's producer told The Local.

“Of course, we'll get a lot more on The whole world can see it.”

Spissoy said Guri, owned by Aud-Marit Halland, a farmer from just outside Bergen, had been selected in August.

“It's a bit late to shear a sheep – normally they shear the sheep when they arrive down from the mountain in September. So we had to pick this sheep early to ensure that it wasn't sheared,” Spissoy said.

She said she hoped Guri's extra-long autumnal coat would give the Norwegian team an edge in their record-breaking attempt.

“That's an advantage for the spinners, because it's extra long when it's grown for an extra month,' she said.

Rune Møklebust, head of programming at NRK, described the programme as “kind of ordinary TV but very slow — although they’ll be knitting as fast as they can”.

“We'll start with four hours about knitting in general before starting the record attempt. Then we'll just broadcast as long as they keep going. It should be a hit.” Møklebust has been credited with inventing the 'slow TV' concept, which saw NRK last year broadcast a log fire being carefully constructed and then burnt.

The idea was born in 2009, when NRK stuck a camera on the roof of a train and filmed a seven-hour trip from Bergen to Oslo, marking the 100th anniversary of the route. “We thought it would be something completely new … and cheap,” Møklebust said.

The show went head to head with X-Factor, but remarkably still came out top. “Miraculously, we got more viewers. All these people wrote in to say, 'I only meant to tune in for a minute but I watched for hours.'”

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Norway TV flooded with complaints after Eid broadcast

Norway's broadcasting ombudsman has received close to a hundred complaints this week after state broadcaster NRK gave the Muslim Eid celebrations the sort of coverage normally given to Christmas.

Norway TV flooded with complaints after Eid broadcast
The Norwegian journalist Rima Iraki led the Celebration atfer the Fast programme. Photo: NRK
According to Erik Skarrud, the ombudsman's secretary, the organisation received 93 reports after the broadcast of “The Celebration after the Fast” on Sunday night, of which only a handful were positive. 
“Someone called it 'propaganda for Islam' and a large number of them used the same sort of expression. There's probably a text somewhere that people are cutting and pasting from,” he told Kampanje magazine.
Others complained they “did not want to pay for something that could lead to terror”. 
Over 300,000 people tuned in to watch the broadcast, which was helmed by the popular journalist Rima Iraki, the former presenter of NRK's Dagsrevyen news programme. 
Eirik Sandberg Ingstad, who led the project, said he felt the experiment, the first such broadcast by a major Western TV channel, had been a huge success. 
“We are pretty pleased with it. The response from the audience during and after the broadcast has been overwhelmingly positive, which indicates that we succeeded in creating a party where everyone felt welcome,” he told Kampanje. 
The controversy prompted Norway's culture minister Abid Raja to write an opinion article, “When can I say 'my Norway'?, on NRK complaining of people's unwillingness to accept Muslim citizens as truly Norwegian. 
He said that he himself had fasted on-and-off for Eid all his life, despite “not being the best Muslim in class”, and had found it emotional to see it celebrated by the nation. 
“It was a historic event when our public broadcaster, as the first in a western country, dedicated an evening to the celebration of the end of the fast,” he said. 
But that feeling had changed to “discomfort” as he learned of the complaints, he said, reminding him of the kind of abuse he received growing up in Norway, and still today as a minister: “You are not a Norwegian. This is not your Norway. Go back where you came from you Muslim bastard, you Paki.”  
He said he had always tried not to provoke those who felt only ethnically Norwegian should use the term. 
“For many years I lived with a kind of compromise. Instead of calling myself a 'Norwegian', I chose to use the terms 'new Norwegian' or 'brown Norwegian', in an attempt not to provoke people who are put out by me saying 'I am Norwegian',” he wrote.
But he said he wanted to change that. 
“I was born in Norway, in Oslo, and with the exception of one academic year in Oxford and one working year at the Norwegian Embassy in India, I have lived all my life in Norway,” he said. 
“My wife, Nadia, has too. My children are Norwegian. And I want to be buried in Norway when that day comes. From cradle to grave, I am Norwegian.”