BBC to run Norway-inspired ‘slow week’

Britain’s BBC has woken up to Norway's 'Slow TV' trend, scheduling a 'slow week' in June featuring programming inspired by NRK’s snail-paced spectaculars.

BBC to run Norway-inspired 'slow week'
The Hurtigruten ferry makes its way through the Trollfjorden. Photo: NRK
The BBC Four channel has already commissioned a live transmission of a two-hour canal trip in North Wales and two  programmes on skilled artisans making respectively a knife and a Windsor chair. 
Cassian Harrison, the channel’s head, told the UK’s Sunday Times that he had got the idea from NRK, which pioneered the concept with fixed camera broadcasts of the seven-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo, and the Hurtigruten ferry, a 12-hour knitting night, and a film of a log fire being painstakingly constructed and burnt. 
“They found that their audience went up with these programmes,” Harrison told the channel.  
He said watching skilled craftsmen work had a “calming effect”, pointing out that in the 1950s, the BBC frequently ran such slow footage to cover gaps in the programming or technical glitches. 
Famous examples include footage of the potter George Aubertin making a bowl, and of a farmer sowing a field, films Harrison claimed had a calming effect on the viewer.
The ‘slow week’ is also likely to feature a broadcast of Empire, Andy Warhol’s seven-hour film about the Empire State Building. 
While Warhol’s film is arguably the pioneer of the form, NRK was the first to realize the potential in the present day, starting with its 2009 broadcast to mark the centenary of the Bergen railway line. 
The experiment was an unexpected success, drawing in 1.2m viewers, around a quarter of Norway’s population. 
Rune Møklebust, NRK’s head of programming, then took the concept further, broadcasting the progress of the Hurtigrutan coastal ferry up Norway’s rugged coast for a full five and a half days.  
Below is a video documenting some of the highlights of its Slow TV programming.


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.”