Kings of the castle: BBC poll confirms Danish pedigree as a producer of quality TV

‘Broen’, ‘Forbrydelsen’ and ‘Borgen’ all comfortably make the top 100

The cast of ‘Borgen’ season 4 will be pleased to know their return is eagerly anticipated (photo: Mike Kollöffel, DR)
October 22nd, 2021 9:43 am| by Ben Hamilton
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You don’t have to be a genius to work out which three Danish shows have made the ‘The 100 greatest TV series of the 21st Century’ rankings following a far-reaching international poll of TV journalists conducted by the BBC.

‘Broen’, ‘Forbrydelsen’ and ‘Borgen’ – which overseas are known better as ‘The Bridge’, ‘The Killing’ and … er … ‘Borgen’ (nobody calls it ‘The Castle’!) – were placed 34th, 78th and 40th respectively.

The poll was topped by a top five of ‘The Wire’, ‘Mad Men’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.

According to the BBC, 79 of the shows were created by men, 11 by women, and 10 by a combination. 

Denmark the best non-Anglophone nation
The inclusion of three Danish films trumps every other non-Anglophone nation on the planet, although 2.5 would be a fairer score, as ‘Broen’ is a co-production with Sweden.

Germany is the only other non-Anglophone country to register more than one production: ‘Dark’ (58) and ‘Babylon Berlin’ (75).

Given that only France, with ‘Call my Agent!’ (53), and Spain, with ‘Money Heist’ (43), are the only other non-Anglophone countries to register an inclusion (along with Sweden’s 0.5, of course), you’d be forgiven for thinking the poll is biased.

And here are the votes from Skopje
However, the journalist line-up was pretty diverse, as it included 206 experts from 43 countries.

For example, Robert Naskov, a producer from North Macedonia, rated ‘Broen’ as his number one – one of 14 top ten votes it received.

Meanwhile, Nathalie Atkinson, a freelance journalist from Canada, named ‘Borgen’ as her favourite – one of 13 top ten votes.

‘Forbrydelsen’ got just nine top ten votes, although there was a rogue vote for ‘The Killing (US)’ – surely a typo!

Questionable taste from the Danes
It also might have helped the Danish cause that four Danes were invited to vote in the poll, and there was some questionable taste on display, with freelancer Freja Dam opting for ‘Gilmore Girls’.

A quick check of the rules confirms this is supposed to be the “greatest TV of the 21st century”, not your personal favourite to curl up on the sofa wearing slippers and sipping a mug of Horlick’s.  

Jyllands-Posten film critic Jacob Wendt Jensen included ‘Tiger King’ in his line-up, which is a documentary series and not really what the poll had in mind.

Perhaps, and some might agree, he was giving the poll the contempt it deserved.

Check out the top 100 here.

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