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
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home