i Editor's Letter: Borgen's take on European politics is far more nuanced than British political dramas


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The Independent Online


To date, I have somehow avoided sharing with you my belated obsession with Borgen, the outstanding BBC4 Danish drama about Birgitte Nyborg, an earnest, charismatic politician who unexpectedly becomes the first female PM of Denmark. But, having spent most of my recent non-i, non-sleeping hours watching series 2 on the Beeb and series 1 virtually simultaneously on YouTube over the past week, I found myself listening to the PM on the EU yesterday wondering what Birgitte (played convincingly by the fabulous Sidse Babett Knudsen) and her shameless spin doctor, Kasper Juul, would say.

Borgen portrays European politics through an inverse lense, where - for example-  the role of a European Commissioner is viewed as a plum job worth fighting over, and the UK is dismissed with a Michelle Obama style eye-roll: “the Brits are just being the Brits”;  shorthand for unhelpful, moaning minnies, who are increasingly marginalised.

As MP Caroline Flint said in the Radio Times, in Borgen politics is far more nuanced than is portrayed in British political dramas. Perhaps that’s because compromise is at the heart of a system where whatever the question the answer is a minority coalition.

It’s also clear that Denmark, a hugely proud nation of great culture and heritage, shares many of our worries over Europe - most notably immigration and its cost. But it determines to resolve them from inside the tent.

Borgen’s Denmark, although imperfect, appears to be a country more at peace with itself and Europe than we are. And please don’t tell me it’s only fiction!