Norway celebs plan own funerals in new show

Norway's ever-inventive national television channel NRK has moved from 'Slow TV' to 'TV Macabre' with "The Coffin", which follows a set of celebrities planning their own funerals.

Norway celebs plan own funerals in new show
Namra Saleem, the presenter of "The Coffin", drives around to celebrities' houses bringing them a coffin to decorate. Photo: NRK
Each show in the series, which producer Nils Gelting Andresen describes as "a feel-good program about death", ends with a practice-run in which the celebrity, for example, watches the coffin they've chosen be cremated.
"People will hopefully feel that they are better acquainted with the guests and discover aspects of them they had not known," Andresen told NRK.
NRK has developed an international reputation for its series of 'Slow TV' programmes, starting in 2009 with centenary of the Bergen railway line. 
Rather than commission a conventional feature programme on the line, NRK instead decided to stick a camera on a train and broadcast the entire seven-hour trip from Oslo to Bergen, interweaving archive footage to liven up the programme. 
Remarkably, it was a roaring success, with 1.2 million viewers, nearly a quarter of the population of Norway, tuning in for at least part of the trip.
Since then, the network has broadcast a cruise journey, a fire being slowly built and burned, and more recently, the knitting of a jumper, starting with the original sheep. 
The first programme features Bjarne Brøndbo, the lead singer for Norwegian rock band D.D.E, who is shown decorating the coffin he would like to be cremated in. 
"It is very strange to see the coffin here," he says. "At the age of almost 50 years, you do start to think a little that life has an end." 
"According to my wife, I think I'm immortal," he says. "Actually, I'm terrified of dying, and that's why I try to live." 
The singer decorates his coffin with the inscription "Rai Rai", a reference to the band's biggest hit, as well as the names of several members of his family, including his mother. 
"My wish is that people should not be so very sad at my funeral," he says. "Afterwards, I hope that people meet to share stories over dinner, wine, coffee and brandy." 
He wants the song "Where roses never die" to be played, as is traditional for his family. 
The other celebrities taking part include the TV presenter Thomas Seltzer, and the adventurer and presenter Jarle Andhøy. 

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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.”