Norway surprises with launch of ‘new Skam’ series

Norway’s national broadcaster NRK on Saturday launched a brand new television series with young adults as its protagonists, echoing the previous hugely successful ‘Skam’.

Norway surprises with launch of 'new Skam' series
Some of the actors from hot Norwegian series 'Skam'. Will 'Blank', launched on April 14th, hit the same heights? Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

The series, titled ‘Blank’, has several similarities with the highly popular ‘Skam’ which finished its run last year.

The new show appeared without warning on Saturday on a dedicated NRK website, a marketing tactic reminiscent of its forerunner.

On the website, video clips and social media messages from characters began to appear over the weekend.

‘Skam’ took Norway and several other countries by storm during its two-year, four-season run chronicling the lives of Norwegian teenagers at the Hartvig Nissens school in Oslo.

The characters in ‘Blank’ are a little older at 19, and the new series focuses on life after high school, or gymnasium to use the Norwegian term, NRK has confirmed.

The Norwegian broadcaster has also announced that content will be continually added to the 'Blank' website, with a complete episode to be broadcast on Sundays.

The website for the new NRK series can be found here.

‘Skam’ is set for remakes in a number of European countries as well in the United States, where it will be broadcast by Facebook’s US streaming service.

READ ALSO: William and Kate visit Norway, meet Skam actors


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.”