TV review: Borgen - Birgitte is no longer Prime Minister but the show has not lost its power

BBC Four, Saturday 16 November, 9pm

Borgen is back. Two and a half years had passed since the events at the end of the second season and Birgitte Nyborg is no longer Denmark’s PM; but like a less ethically dubious, less bronzed Tony Blair, she’d managed to keep pretty busy.

There was a high-flying job in Hong Kong, a swanky waterside apartment in Copenhagan and a dishy new British architect boyfriend called Jeremy played by Alastair Mackenzie from Monarch of the Glen. But is she satisfied? Of course not. After deciding that the new leader of the Moderates had drifted too far to the right on immigration, Birgitte judged it was time to get back into the political fray. For that, she would need at her side not only the trusty Bill Oddie-lookalike Bent, but also some fresh young blood. Enter Katrine, Borgen’s other indomitable badass, who’s been going through some changes of her own since last series. She and Kasper are now co-parenting a two-year-old son, although their own relationship has ended – a fact that everyone seems totally Scandi and nonchalant about. Birgitte and Katrine have rarely shared scenes before, but it seems this Bechdel test-acting series will foreground the professional relationship of its two female leads.

Thus began Borgen’s third and final season on BBC4 on Saturday night (money doesn’t grow on trees at DR, Denmark’s state-owned broadcaster) and I’m missing it already. This show is top-class political drama, a badge of middle-class belonging and, for the British, also a kind of utopian sci-fi fantasy. Just imagine: a truly gender-equal society where men and women share childcare, women hold as many positions of power in politics and media as men, and everyone achieves an enviable work-life balance. Balanced, but not uncomplicated, as Birgitte warned dishy Jeremy: “You  don’t want to discuss politics with me...  it’s personal, politics to me.”

Kennedy’s Nuclear Nightmare on More4 on Saturday night was also interested in where the personal ends and the political begins. “This is a story of men, not of governments,” said one of the many interviewees by way of introduction to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Only last Wednesday, I was complaining about a certain one-sided Cold War documentary that included no dissenting voices (ahem... Strange Days with Dominic Sandbrook),  and now here comes the answer to my prayers: a documentary almost entirely narrated by people who were actually there.

The period between 14 and 28 October in 1962 is now remembered as the most dangerous 13 days in human history. It’s  also remembered by some as that time  when President Kennedy saved the whole world from annihilation with his statesmanlike cool; hence this doc’s broadcast around the 50th anniversary  of the assassination. By the end of the epic  80-minute running time, however, it was clear that the fate of the planet did not rest only on JFK’s broad shoulders.

Unusually for such a programme, we heard from Americans, Russians and Cubans at all decision-making levels, from a Cuban army volunteer to the man who wrote Kennedy’s famously chilling address to the nation. One particularly effective section intercut an interview with a pall-bearer at the funeral of Major Rudolf Anderson and an interview with the Russian soldier who shot him down over Cuba. “Even now this wound is still there,” he said “But... a war is a war... I hope I won’t look like a murderer.”

Not all of these people had their finger on The Button exactly, but all of them were close enough to trip, fall and accidentally nudge the guy who did.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea