Tricky Dicky | Why is Danish TV so crap?

I have always believed the Danes to be generally smarter and better educated than the Brits. Obviously having a generous free education system helps encourage Danes to study longer and maximise their potential. Yet I am also now convinced that these high ideals of a well-educated and informed population are slowly but firmly being undermined by the overall lack of quality being offered across Danish TV – which in my view is full of trash.

The relentless onslaught of TV trash now being offered every night by a multitude of crap channels could in the long run potentially play a part in dumbing down the Danes. Take a look at the TV schedule on any given night for TV3, Kanal 5, TV3+, Kanal 4 and 6’eren, and you might actually believe you are living in the United States. It is brimful with trashy imported American shows and crappy films being recycled over and over again. 

And if, God forbid, any of these so-called TV channels do decide to do any original Danish programming, it’s always aimed at the lowest common denominator, which in other words means one thing only : keeping the advertisers happy. These parasitical channels live off the adverts of the latest chocolate bar, beauty enhancer and cleaning product and in the process buy tons of US imports, or if we are really lucky, cheap homemade reality TV shows with Z-list Danish celebs.

This multi-channel TV era that we now live in has clearly highlighted to me the Danes’ lack of creativity and originality when it comes to making must-watch informative and entertaining TV shows. When I first came to Denmark I came with a TV background but quickly learned that there was little appetite for original programming. Better to play it safe and buy the format rights to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or ‘The Great British Bake-off’ and make a Danish version. Tried and tested formats were the name of the game. Can anyone ever remember a formatted TV Danish show that has been sold around the world? And no I am not talking about The Killing, ‘Borgen’.

Once upon a time, there was this notion to inform, educate and entertain the public and this was the founding principles of public service broadcasting. Luckily this still lives on with DR – yet even it has also succumbed to the dumbing down syndrome. Case in point: ‘Mentor’!

I remember back in 2008 having a meeting with one DR executive who was ecstatic to break the news to me that they would now be showing both ‘Denmark’s Got Talent’ and ‘X Factor’ – I am sure Simon Cowell was even more ecstatic! But thank God for DR1 and DR2 and DR3 – at least through those channels, the public broadcaster tries, like the BBC, to offer us quality populist programming that is informative and entertaining, and through its drama department produces award-winning series like ‘The Killing’ and ‘Borgen’. 

Of course Denmark’s small TV industry cannot possibly fill all the different channels with decent and inspiring home-grown quality programmes. Yet it’s time for Danish independent production companies to wise up and realise that there is a huge fortune to be made in formatted TV shows. Dig beneath the surface of informative yet entertaining shows like ‘Supernanny’, ‘How Clean is Your House?, ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, ‘Embarrassing Illnesses’ and ‘Masterchef’, and you will quickly learn that the companies behind these hits are laughing all the way to the bank.

So my reaction to nearly six years of crap Danish TV was giving up my multi-channel subscription and going back to just having the DR channels.  So DR, can you now help me and all the other foreigners living here who don’t speak Danish – can you please put English subtitles on all your Danish programmes so everybody living here can at least enjoy some half-decent Danish TV?