A still from Piip Show. Photo: Magne Klann
Norway's ever-creative NRK network has come up with yet another strange but surprisingly compelling 'slow TV' experiment -- Piip Show, described by its creator as a "reality TV show with wild birds".
The show, the brainchild of the photographer Magne Klann, follows the lives of a small cast of birds, including a nuthatch, a blue tit, and a bullfinch, over three months in the specially constructed 'Piip Show' house.
The action started last week in a bird feeder styled loosely after Java, one of Oslo's best-known coffee shops, and will later move on to two separate bird houses, where the show's creators hope their feathered stars will hatch and rear their young.
"This is kind of a reality show with wild birds, so we are not able to do anything to make them act the way we want them to act," Klann told The Local. "We just have to anticipate what they will do. That’s a big part of the idea and that’s a big part of what fascinates people."
The show, which launched last week and will run until the end of June, is already NRK's most watched web page
, and no less a person than Crown Princess Mette-Marit is an avid fan.
Klann launched his first version of the show back in 2003, winning a European internet media award, so he argued that the show could not rightly be seen as the latest emanation of Norway's slow TV concept, which has seen real time live broadcasts of a train journey, coastal cruise, burning fire and sweater being knitted. Also, unlike these outings, Piip Show is not being broadcast on one of NRK's channels.
"It was before all this minute-for-minute programming, which they call 'slow TV', which has become a Norwegian speciality," he told The Local. "I don’t want to take credit for all the other projects, but in a way we were first."
He said that the idea for the show had come naturally from his interests and profession.
"I’ve been a bird watcher since I was 12 and my start in photograph was bird photography," he said. "I moved into portraits and documentary and advertising professionally, so I sort of brought the professional photography back into my hobby as a bird photographer and combined the two."
This time around Klann has recruited the illustrator and model maker Lars Aurtande to design settings for the birds. The two have spent two years working on the project.
"We just wanted to make it like a really good-looking coffee shop," Aurtande said of the feeder café. "We’re also going to have three different bird houses which are coming up in a month’s time, where the bird are going to raise their kids. They live in a quite nice Funkis-style house, which is also made to look like a human house, with interiors with wallpaper and everything."
The two are also planning to release a children's book based on the show early next month.
Aurtande said he was pleased to see how many people were watching.
"It seems like quite a lot of people put it on their computer and keep it going in the background for the whole day," he said. "I heard yesterday about a home for the elderly where the nurse taking care of these old people had put Piip Show on the TV in the living room. It’s only been going on for one week, so it’s still really fresh and new," he said.
Klann hinted at some exciting developments in the plot coming next months.
"In two or three weeks, I expect we are going to see some changes, but I can’t really tell you what at the moment," he said.
Below are some video clips and pictures of the show so far:
A squirrel walks into a bar
Nuthatch and blue tits:
Hawfinch, bullfinch and greenfinches:
And here's the show in 2003: