Episode Nine, Series Two, BBC Four, 9pm

TV Review: Borgen, The Sanctity of Private Life

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main

"Success is not final, failure is not final," proclaims Winston Churchill in Borgen's traditional opening epigraph, "it is the courage to go on that counts."

Passing the British Prime Minister’s rhetorical flourishes through English, Danish and English again may have dampened their power, but Borgen’s sound bites often reveal the difficulty of translating their seemingly sage advice into action. With Birgitte Nyborg's (Sidse Babett Knudsen) daughter suffering a mental breakdown, Churchill’s call to continue regardless comes across as somewhat inadequate.

Birgitte is instead determined to secure the best possible treatment for Laura (Freja Riemann), but hasn’t counted on Borgen’s knack for fateful coincidences. It just so happens that the prime minister is in the crucial stages of dismantling the previous government’s privatised healthcare system. When it emerges that there is a waiting time of fifty weeks for a psychiatrist to help her daughter, Birgitte balks. Private healthcare now looks like a much better idea; there’s a 100,000-kroner a year hospital called Liseholm where the grounds are full of delighted patients on the mend, and it’s perfect for Laura.

The best bet would have been to arrange a few sessions on the cheap with Kasper (Pilou Asbæk), who in the episode’s more touching scenes reaches out to Laura and lets her know she isn’t alone. It turns out the spin doctor spent time in a mental hospital himself, and is more willing to talk about his past now that he is safely ensconced in Borgen’s most loved-up relationship.

In the hour’s lighter plotline, Kasper and Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) take steps towards bringing their liaison out into the open. There’s still the odd secret; Kasper is hobbling around with torn ligaments and determined to keep the injury out of the news. “I’m not going to hand Expres the ‘Ministry On Crutches’ headline”, he says. Little does he know that tabloid editor Michael Laugesen (Peter Mygind) has another targets in his sights.

Back with a vengeance and determined to stick the boot into Birgitte, Laugesen zeroes in on Laura and the costly private hospital, even providing a dictionary definition of “hypocrisy” to his readers to hammer home Birgitte’s perfidy. Soon he has filled the hospital grounds with photographers and reporters, and the full throttle media circus is shown to be a lurid and unforgiving thing. At one point we are treated to an eerie shot of paparazzi moving through the tall grass like zombies, camera shutters clicking away. The wolfish Laugesen denies any wrongdoing of course, taking to his video editorials to read out the hospital’s sumptuous menu choices with a gourmand’s relish.

“Who benefits from it?” Birgitte laments. “Who reads it?” It may be hyper-sensationalised but the media’s interest in the Nyborg family makes its point. Birgitte’s political position has dragged her private life through the muck before, and on that occasion the prime minister played to the media’s tune. This time around, desperate not to lose Laura the way she lost Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær), she appears to have learned a lesson.

It raises the possibility that where the first season finale saw the disintegration of the family, the second season’s could see steps towards its rejuvenation. Borgen has always dwelt on the balance between the benefits of public office and its impact upon private life, and to stop the debate growing stagnant there has to be a tipping point. Birgitte may have found hers.

Best scene:

TV1 news anchor Ulrik (Thomas Levin) is a slippery character – and almost certainly dobbed in Hanne Holm for alcoholism in the first season – but here he redeemed himself by taking Laugesen down a peg, live on air.

Best line:

“Don’t play sports, Kasper. You’re not cut out for them.” (Birgitte). An otherwise indecipherable plot decision, Kasper’s crutches had comic relief written all over them.

Handy Danish vocab:

Laugesen’s lessons in language gave us “hykleri” (“hypocrisy”) but it seems a bleak addition to the phrasebook. There was a lot of affection in the air, so “jeg elsker dig” (“I love you”) might be a better option.

Magnus Watch:

Birgitte’s Bombay Sapphire binge in episode four landed her in hot water with her chauffeur, so it seems surprising that she didn’t pause for thought when Magnus (Emil Poulsen) asked to watch a programme called All About Wine.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions