BBC4…Borgen. Loses its rythm as it heads out to Africa.

27 Jan

Borgen has a formula that over the two seasons we have watched it has worked very well. The formula encompasses three main themes Danish Media, Danish Parliamentary Politics and the lives of those who inhabit these spheres of Danish life.

These are the programmes strengths and as the saying goes if it ain’t broken don’t fix it. It seems the writers ignored that and decide to “fix” Borgen in the last two episodes.



When we last left Birgitte Nyborg she was under pressure following the breakdown of the coalition.  Often in politics when things are looking tricky at home, politicians seek refuge in foreign adventures to ease the pressure it is no different in Denmark it seems. We are introduced to the Republic of Kharun a fictitious Africa republic.  The country apparently is in the middle of a conflict between a largely Arab Muslim north and an African christian south.

Sounds familiar you might say, well you would right for all intents and purposes this was Sudan.  From the President of the North being wanted for war crimes, the only pipeline for the export of oil going through the North and the North cheating the South of millions in Oil revenues.

So the scene was set for Borgen’s political drama to go international, but it was at this point it all fell apart. What we know to be a complex and drawn out conflict was reduced to a conflict of ego’s between two unreasonable African’s leaders that needed the firm hand of Danish diplomacy to sort out.

The characterisation of  the leaders of both North and South Kharun were depicted in a cartoon-ish manner , both roles incidentally were played by British actors.

The northern leader was  a died in the wool Islamist, who refuses to shake hands with women or speak in English in public despite being Cambridge educated. The reason was it doesn’t play well to the public at home, but all his appearances were in the privacy of conference rooms.  The other  was the uber-saintly rebel who only wants the best for his people.

Not content with the two-dimensional representation of these two characters,  the dual episode turned its sights on the conflict itself. For Birgitte’s political purposes she needed to announce the signing of a big deal between the Kharanese quickly.

In real life the Sudan conflict took years before an agreement could be reached between North and South Sudan, but in Borgen time this was reduced to days.

The hub of the negotiations had a white board  and on it was listed a whole range of areas of contention and what in practice would take a huge team of negotiators many months if not years were quickly ticked off by lead negotiators Amir Dwian, brought in because they need a trustworthy muslim,  and Bent Serjo.

The two episodes felt very much like Borgen had left it comfort zone and were very unsatisfactory, a changed from the measured and well nuanced political drama we know this to be.

I expect a return next week to the more familiar environs around Christiansborg.

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