Grace Dent on Television: The Bridge, BBC4

Spoiler alert: The Bridge may be a dinner-party talking point, but I'd rather watch the Steps reunion

Like me, you've possibly been cajoled by friends to watch BBC4's Scandic crime series The Bridge.

Like me, you've possibly chuntered inwardly, "oh chuffing hell, not another, slow-moving, allegedly cerebrally stimulating, subtitled gloomfest". You might have even thought, "I don't want to be mentally stimulated! I'm happy watching The Voice. Let me watch Will.i.am promising gullible buffoons that they'll be "Intergalactic Singing Emperor of the Moon" by Spring 2013! Let me enjoy moderately gifted idiots, wearing flammable fibres as they're styled on a BBC budget, honking at each in a boxing ring. It makes my brain feel squidgy and untroubled."

Well, I sympathise, and these philistine thoughts may win you friends "down at the pub". But don't come crying to me when your draft papers arrive to appear on BBC2's Friday night Review Show, and you're sat downwind of Paul Morley, Martha Kearney and a female professor from UCL wearing a flappy skirt, too many pewter skull-rings and an impervious stare.

These people love Scandi crime drama. These people don't series link Steps: On The Road Again (Sky Living). They certainly don't play the Steps drinking game, where one blocks a shot of Frangelico every time Lisa Scott-Lee has a strategic diva-weep about "not feeling valued" and two shots when Claire Richards boo-hoos that she can't fit into her hotpants due to "genetics", then pops off to record her section as a judge on Lorraine Kelly's Cake Club.

Luckily, on your behalf, I ploughed through many hours of The Bridge this week, drinking in its poorly lit, macabre, long-game beauty and assembling a dinner-party cheat-note for slackers. I have attempted this without spoilers, but if you are the sort who gets tremendously stompy and weepy about "spoilerz", you could a) try not starting a column about The Bridge, or b) maybe get nanny to lie you in your day-bed with blankie to try to forget about the "meany TV review lady who done gone spoil your wurld".

So. The first thing to know about The Bridge is that it begins when a woman's body is found in the middle of Oresund Bridge, exactly on the border between Sweden and Denmark, leading to female detective Saga Noren from Malmo CID and male detective Martin Rohde from the Copenhagen police department being called to the scene. Noren is a charmless monosyllabic grump with translucent skin. Rohde is a Norwegian John Thompson from The Fast Show lookalike who has sore testicles due to a recent vasectomy.

It may be that a sore scrotum just isn't as funny in Sweden or Norway, so they can pepper the script with serious references to it, um, willy-nilly. This must be a cultural thing. I can't imagine an episode of Morse where Inspector said to Lewis, "let's get these false teeth down for forensic Lewis, but go easy on the speedbumps, my nadgers are giving me gyp".

The second thing to say about The Bridge, when faced with Kirsty Wark, is, ahem, "the juxtaposition between the cultural idiosyncrasies of the Danish and Swedish police forces is most hilarious". Never admit your concern that, as a Brit watching with subtitles, you're possibly missing 70 per cent of the plot. Try not to give away that, until now, with Swedish culture, your only points of reference are Ace of Base, Swedish House Mafia, and Chef from The Muppets. Never voice your concern that if The Bridge was set on the M6 and everyone was speaking Home Counties English, essentially you'd just be watching Silent Witness, and you bloody hate Silent Witness.

Salient point three: "It's sooooo great," you think, "that these new cop dramas like The Killing, Homeland and The Bridge are creating strong roles for women." Gloss over the fact that a lot of the leading women in these shows are actually either certified mentally ill (Carrie in Homeland) or simply somewhere on the spectrum of the emotionally unavailable (Saga Noren, Sarah Lund in The Killing). Gloss over plot points like episode one of The Bridge, where a child-free businesswoman stands in a hospital demanding the heart of a dying man for her husband's transplant. "I have no children! My husband is everything. I need this heart," she growls, like a less affable Lady Macbeth. As a woman, I found this slightly unrealistic.

Other plot points to check off: there's a man who strides about in flares and a kipper tie who appears to be in a completely different decade to everyone else. Also: about twice an episode the killer will ring up and rant wildly about: "Knowing the truth! About society! All the secrets that the government doesn't want THE PEOPLE to know." He sounds like a terrific bore.

Brilliant, a whole cop-series revolving around one of those dullards who devotes his free time leaving comments on internet news items. I'd rather he killed me quickly than make me read his damning evidence about how "Ronald Reagan planned 9/11 and triggered it via his cryogenically frozen head!!!" I feel death may be preferable to watching any more of The Bridge. Just don't tell Kirsty Wark or Martha Kearney.

Grace's marmalade dropper

...Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP, livening up BBC Parliament with his spiffing Gulliver's Travels assessment of Ed Miliband as "a socialist Yahoo". I love Rees-Mogg. Any time he's allowed out on screen is TV gold.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
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.

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world