Feeding Britain’s Scandi love: Meet Adam Price, the Danish celebrity chef who created 'Borgen'

Who says a successful TV writer has to be single-minded? Susie Mesure on the celebrity chef behind Danish hit ‘Borgen’

Adam Price, the creator of Borgen, is filming a cookery show in Florence. Of course he is! Not content with spawning possibly the world’s least likely hit series – a drama about Danish coalition politics that 75 countries have snapped up – it turns out that Price moonlights as a celebrity chef.

Said series, Spise med Price (Eat with the Prices), is in its seventh season, putting Borgen’s three to shame. Oh and by the way, the title rhymes. The name is Pri-se, not Price: if it helps, imagine Borgen’s heroine, Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg, barking it to her spindoktor Kasper Juul.

The blond-quiffed Price, who shares the kitchen with his brother James, has taken the show on tour for its latest incarnation, hence the Florentine location.

“I’m standing in perhaps the most beautiful square in the world, the Piazza della Signoria,” he tells me down the phone, in near faultless English. “It’s where Helena Bonham Carter fainted after seeing a  murder in A Room with a View.”

The filmic reference is crucial because Spise med Price owes much of its “weird, cult” popularity to its “black humour” mixed with a liberal sprinkling of film associations, he says. Hence today’s episode, which saw them whip up Italian classics such as cantuccini and pappa al pomodoro, is called “A Meal with a View”.

Both the cooking and drama genes came from Price Snr, John, who was a famous Danish actor, theatre director, and, yes, a foodie, neatly combining in one package everything we Brits admire about the Danes. The English names are deliberate: his ancestors quit London for Denmark in the late 18th century. “I come from an old family of travelling actors; clowns,” he says. “Food was my father’s part-time job, or very important hobby. Everything was about food when we were growing up. We travelled to countries that were famous for their food and would visit special regions and special restaurants.” Like his father, Price also reviewed restaurants – before opening one of his own, that is. The brothers now own two; a second, in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens opened last year, quickly notching up guests such as Bill Clinton.

Despite admitting that many Danes know him more for his cooking, Price insists that writing is his “first and proper job”. It certainly wins him plaudits; only last month, he was in Sydney picking up a major award for Borgen, which returns to British screens this Saturday for its third and final season. And yes, he is sure it’s the last. “There’s a natural ending to the story,” he says tantalisingly. “Even though we really love the characters and it was sad to say goodbye, it’s a nice feeling that something ended when it was still well-received and we hope it will be missed.” That much is a given considering the show defied all expectations to become a global sensation. An “astonished” Price says that, at best, he thought Sweden and Norway might buy Borgen “out of brotherly love”. The upshot of Borgenmania is that Price is shortly off to LA to consult on a US remake, a joint HBO/BBC Worldwide project. Then it’s back here to work on a new political drama with Michael House of Cards Dobbs for the BBC. And no, he won’t be drawn on more details.

Until then, fans should savour the last 10 Borgen instalments. That they even exist is a tribute to Price and his “boy band” of writers, namely himself, Tobias Lindholm and Jeppe Gjervig Gram. “It’s very rare to get the opportunity for more than two series because we’re a small country and we have a small drama production.” He was ready to call it a day after – spoiler alert – Nyborg called an election at the end of the 20th episode and, indeed, says they had always planned for that to be the show’s final scene.

But given the green light to continue the story, they decided to have a little fun and ask, “What if she loses?” “We wanted to challenge ourselves and see how such a ‘heroic’ character would react to defeat,” Price says, explaining why the action opens a few years after the election.

Without giving too much away, there are other surprises in store: not least because Price was joined for the first time by two female writers. This was out of necessity, both logistically – Lindholm is busy directing movies and Gram is working on his own new series for DR, Denmark’s state broadcaster – and, he claims, narratively. “There is one episode specifically, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to, that would have been very difficult for a man to write. In fact, if only men had written it, it would have been the subject of great criticism.”

I’m agog, but he doesn’t want to ruin the plot, so instead we discuss the virtues of that strong female lead. He says he wanted to write about “sacrifice” and he felt it would be “more painful” to see a woman struggle with the “very, very big price tag” that came with the biggest job of all, prime minister. “She loses her husband, daily contact with her children, her sex life, her freedom.”

As he notes, it’s novel to see women fail those they love quite so spectacularly. “Men have had 10,000 years’ experience of letting down our children, our wives, our family [in order] to wage wars, build empires. We’ve seen men sacrifice everything that was important in their private lives.”

Price recalls a meeting with Denmark’s current PM, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, back when she was the leader of the Social Democrat Party, before she got the top job. “She actually quoted the then new Danish PM, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who said in an interview: ‘If the wife and kids see me once or twice a week, it will be fine’. She said, it was quite funny [because] ‘If I become prime minister I’ll never be able to give an interview like that because women would say I’m a bad mother and a bad wife’.”

I’m left feeling bad that I didn’t grill him more regarding how he feels about leaving his own young child behind in Denmark while travelling the globe – he has a five-year-old and an 18-year-old – although I’m guessing he’s accepted it’s just the price (no pun intended) he has to pay for his own success.

Politics isn’t the only 24/7 job out there.

The third and final series of ‘Borgen’ begins on Saturday 16 Nov, 9pm on BBC4. The box set release follows on 16 Dec from Arrow Films

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk