Borgen (TV series)

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GenrePolitical drama
Created byAdam Price
Written byAdam Price
Jeppe Gjervig Gram
Tobias Lindholm
Directed bySøren Kragh-Jacobsen
Rumle Hammerich
StarringSidse Babett Knudsen
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
Pilou Asbæk
Mikael Birkkjær
Søren Malling
Composer(s)Halfdan E
Country of originDenmark
Original language(s)Danish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes30 (List of episodes)
Producer(s)Camilla Hammerich
Running time60 minutes
Original channelDR1
Original run26 September 2010 (2010-09-26) – present
External links
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GenrePolitical drama
Created byAdam Price
Written byAdam Price
Jeppe Gjervig Gram
Tobias Lindholm
Directed bySøren Kragh-Jacobsen
Rumle Hammerich
StarringSidse Babett Knudsen
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
Pilou Asbæk
Mikael Birkkjær
Søren Malling
Composer(s)Halfdan E
Country of originDenmark
Original language(s)Danish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes30 (List of episodes)
Producer(s)Camilla Hammerich
Running time60 minutes
Original channelDR1
Original run26 September 2010 (2010-09-26) – present
External links

Borgen (Danish pronunciation: [ˈb̥ɒːˀʋən]) is a Danish one-hour political drama television series. It tells the story of charismatic politician Birgitte Nyborg who unexpectedly becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark. "Borgen" ("the Castle") is the nickname of Christiansborg Palace, which houses all three of Denmark's branches of government: the Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. The title translates roughly as "The Citadel" or "The Castle".[1]

The series stars Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg Christensen. The other main actors are Pilou Asbæk as troubled spin doctor Kasper Juul, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as ambitious news anchor Katrine Fønsmark, and Søren Malling as Torben Friis, editor-in-chief for TV1 News.[2]

The show is created and written by producer Adam Price and co-writers Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias Lindholm. It is produced by DR, the Danish public broadcaster that has also produced another international Danish hit series, The Killing.

Thirty episodes, divided into three seasons, have been produced. The series was first shown in Denmark in the autumns of 2010 and 2011.[3] A third season began its run on 1 January 2013. Prior to the airing of the third season, Price revealed that this was likely to be the final season of Borgen.[4]


CharacterActorCharacter's role
Aicha NagrawiFadime TuranSolidarity Party member
Alexander 'Alex' HjortChristian TafdrupTV1 programme director
Amir DiwanDar SalimGreen Party leader, Energy and Climate Minister
Anne Sophie LindenkroneSigne Egholm OlsenSolidarity Party leader
Benedikte NedergaardMarie AskehaveFreedom Party politician
Bent SejrøLars KnutzonFinance Minister (Moderate Party)
Bjørn MarrotFlemming SørensenForeign Minister, Labour Party Leader (replacing Laugesen)
Birgitte Nyborg ChristensenSidse Babett KnudsenPrime Minister, Moderate Party leader and New Democrats Party leader
Cecelie ToftMille DinesenPaediatrician and girlfriend to Phillip Christensen
Erik HoffmannKristian HalkenVice-chairman of the New Right party, later New Democrat
Hanne HolmBenedikte HansenJournalist on TV1, later Ekspres journalist
Hans Christian ThorsenBjarne HenriksenDefence Minister (Labour)
Henriette KlitgaardStine StengadeMinister for business (Moderate Party)
Jacob KruseJens Jacob TychsenEU Minister (Moderate Party), later EU Commissioner, later Moderate Party leader
JytteHanne HedelundPrime Minister's secretary
Jon BerthelsenJens AlbinusModerate member of parliament, later New Democrat
Jørgen HedegårdOlaf JohannessenSoldier's father
Kasper JuulPilou AsbækJournalist and Communications Chief for Birgitte Nyborg
Katrine FønsmarkBirgitte Hjort SørensenTV1 presenter
Lars HesselboeSøren SpanningLeader of the Liberal Party; Prime Minister at start of series and season 3
Lisbeth HesselboeIda DwingerWife of Lars Hesselboe
Michael LaugesenPeter MygindLabour Party Leader (start of series), then editor of the Ekspres newspaper
Nete BuchJulie Agnete Vang ChristensenModerate member of parliament, later New Democrat
Niels Erik LundMorten KirkskovPrime Minister's Permanent Secretary
Ole DahlClaus Riis ØstergaardCommunications Chief for Lars Hesselboe
Pernille MadsenPetrine AggerLabour Party deputy leader; Minister for Equality (later Minister of Finance)
Phillip Christensen[5][6]Mikael BirkkjærLecturer at Copenhagen Business School; Husband of Birgitte Nyborg
Pia MunkLisbeth WulffTV1 editor
SanneIben DornerPrime Minister's personal assistant
Svend Åge SaltumOle ThestrupFreedom Party leader
TanjaPatricia SchumannTV1 make-up artist
Torben FriisSøren MallingTV1 editor-in-chief
Troels HöxenhavenLars BrygmannJustice Minister and Labour Party Deputy Leader
Ulrik MørchThomas LevinTV1 news anchor
Yvonne KjærJannie FaurschouNew Right leader

Political parties and media[edit]

Parliament Seats, Series 1-2
Political groups

Government (83)

  •      Moderates (31)
  •      Labour (35)
  •      Greens (17)

Supported by (8)

  •      Solidarity (6)
  •      Centre-left Greenland/Faroe Islands parties (2)

Opposition (88)

  •      Liberals (32)
  •      New Right (25)
  •      Centre-Right Greenland/Faroe Islands parties (2)
  •      Freedom Party (29)

While the political parties in the series are fictional, they do have "recognisable real-life equivalents":[7]

Following the 2011 parliamentary election, the Social Liberals, the Socialist People's Party, and the Social Democrats did form a coalition government, with parliamentary support from the Red-Green Alliance, and with Helle Thorning-Schmidt becoming Denmark's first female prime minister (though, in the real-life coalition, the Social Democrats were the leading party).[7]

The New Alliance (Ny Alliance) originally opposed the influence of the social conservatism of the Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti) on the Government, as well as the alleged left-leaning opposition strategy of the Social Liberal Party. In 2008, the party moved somewhat to the political right, emphasising the liberal economic or libertarian components of its party programme, and changed its name from New Alliance to Liberal Alliance.

The fictional broadcasters and newspapers also have their real-life equivalents: the public broadcaster TV1 is based on DR1, the tabloid newspaper Ekspres is inspired by Ekstra Bladet, and the commercial TV2 is very similar to the real TV 2.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedDVD release dates
Season premiereSeason finaleRegion 2 (Denmark)Region 2 (UK)Region 1 (US)
11026 September 2010 (2010-09-26)28 November 2010 (2010-11-28)23 December 2010 (2010-12-23)6 February 2012 (2012-02-06)[8]12 March 2013 (2013-03-12)[9]
21025 September 2011 (2011-09-25)27 November 2011 (2011-11-27)29 November 2011 (2011-11-29)4 February 2013 (2013-02-04)[10]25 June 2013 (2013-06-25)[11]
3101 January 2013 (2013-01-01)10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)14 November 2013 (2013-11-14)16 December 2013 (2013-12-16)[12]21 January 2014 (2014-01-21)[13]


The series has been well received by critics and audiences alike.[14] It became a hit in the UK as well as Denmark, becoming one of several Danish series to do so in recent years.[14] Maggie Brown of The Guardian cited the strong female characters, originality and an ability to "uncannily forecast actual developments in Danish politics" as reasons for its success.[14] Jane Merrick of The Independent published a list of similarities from Series 2 to actual events in present day UK politics following the conclusion of the series in the UK.[15]

The US critics have been similarly positive, with Newsweek dubbing Borgen "the best TV show you have never seen"[16] and bestselling novelist and Entertainment Weekly columnist Stephen King put the series on the top of his top 10 list of the best TV shows of 2012.[17] The New York Times also offered praise, describing Borgen as a "bleaker, Nordic version of The West Wing" and saying it "finds a remarkable amount of drama and suspense in center-left alliances, pension plans and televised debates."[18]

With several middle of the road 3/6 star ratings, the Danish media’s reaction to the third series was noticeably less positive than for the first two series. Politiken commented that the third series “ended like a soap opera” and “never succeeded in breaking free from predictability”;[19] with Berlingske's review declaring that whilst the third series “tied up the loose ends in pretty bows and was, like the rest of the series, well performed, it was also insidiously dull”.[20] Tabloid paper BT however claimed that the series "finished on a peak" and with this third season had "become the best Danish series in years".[21] The critique came after several months where storylines from the third series in an unprecedented manner for a Danish drama series had sparked media headlines and created hefty debates in real life Danish politics on, among other issues, prostitution and pig farming, epitomised by Danish MP Mai Henriksen from Conservative People's Party, who was widely accused by colleagues and journalists of advocating a bill of rights for prostitutes, solely because she was inspired by Borgen.[22]


Award ShowYearCategoryNominee(s)Result
International Emmy Award2012Best Performance by an ActressSidse Babett KnudsenNominated
Monte Carlo TV Festival2011Outstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesSidse Babett KnudsenWon
2013Best International Drama TV SeriesBorgen IIINominated
Best European Drama TV SeriesBorgen IIIWon
Outstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesBirgitte Hjort SørensenNominated
British Academy Television Awards2012International PrizeBorgenWon
2014International PrizeBorgenNominated
Prix Italia2010Best TV Drama - Series and SerialsBorgenWon
Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels2011Best TV Series and SerialsBorgenWon
TV Series and Serials: Best MusicHalfdan EWon
Peabody Award2013Area of ExcellenceBorgenWon[23]

Awards for the show include the 2010 Prix Italia for best drama series,[24] a Golden Nymph to Sidse Babett Knudsen for Outstanding Actress in a drama series at the 2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival.,[25] and the Fipa Grand Prize for Best TV Series as well as for Best Original Soundtrack at the 2011 Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels.[26] The program also won the award for Best International TV series at the 2012 British Academy Television Awards.[27]

International broadcast[edit]

The series has been sold to a number of broadcasters outside Denmark:


DR1 produced a spinoff radio serial, Udenfor Borgen ("Outside the Castle"), to accompany the release of the television show. The main character is Hans Gammelgard (voiced by Danish actor Finn Nielsen), private secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, who faces unexpected adversity after he tries to push for a controlled approach to the cultivation of genetically modified crops by Danish farmers.[61][62]

Beginning in December 2013, BBC Radio 4 aired an English-language translation of the Danish radio serial, entitled Borgen: Outside the Castle, starring Tim Pigott-Smith as Hans Gammelgard.[63] Reviewer Fiona Sturges of The Independent thought the radio version was "wholly pointless", and noted in particular that, unlike the television series, the radio program was "relegating its female characters to the fringes, casting them as secretaries and anxious mothers."[64] On the other hand, Gillian Reynolds of The Telegraph gave the radio show a positive review, approving its complex treatment of the intricacies of the civil service.[65]


In September 2011, it was announced that NBC would produce a US remake of Borgen, with a pilot being developed by David Hudgins and Jason Katims of Friday Night Lights fame.[66] The NBC remake never materialized, but in November 2013 it was confirmed by Adam Price that HBO and BBC Worldwide were set to begin production on a U.S. remake of the series.[67]



DVDs of the first two series have been made available in Denmark and the UK among other countries. Both are coded Region 2 format and consist of the complete episodes as screened on DR1 and BBC4.

DVD NameEpisodesRelease dates
Region 2 (Denmark)Region 2 (UK)
The Complete First Series1023 December 20106 February 2012
The Complete Second Series1029 November 20114 February 2013
The Complete First and Second Series2028 November 20124 February 2013
The Complete Third Series103 October 20132014


A novelisation of the first series of Borgen was released in Denmark, The Netherlands and France on 19 February 2013. The Danish release from DR in conjunction with publisher Lindhardt & Ringhof is written by Jesper Malmose.[68] Head of DR Sales Anders Kjærsgaard Sørensen hopes to have the book available in the UK soon.


On 26 February 2013, DR Salg, the commercial distribution arm of DR, made Borgen (Original TV Series Soundtrack), nineteen tracks of Halfdan E's original compositions for the show, available for digital download on iTunes.[69][70]

Based on the music from the show and entitled 'Borgen 2010', Halfdan E has also made a longer composition available through SoundCloud.


  1. ^ Borg -
  2. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (5 January 2012). "Nothing Like A Dane". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  3. ^ TV tid 11 March 2011 (in Danish): Der kommer en tredje sæson af Borgen (There will be a third season of "Borgen') Retrieved 2012-01-07
  4. ^ "Borgen series three will likely be its last, reveals the show's creator". Radio Times. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Ten Things I'll Miss About Borgen's Phillip Christensen". Radio Times. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  6. ^ "Persongalleri: Phillip Christensen". Danmarks Radio DR1. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  7. ^ a b "Revealed: the real Borgen", The Radio Times, 4 February 2012
  8. ^ Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 1 Relinked 2013-12-14
  9. ^ Amazon US: Borgen – Season 1 Relinked 2013-12-14
  10. ^ Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 2 Relinked 2013-12-14
  11. ^ Amazon US: Borgen – Season 2 Relinked 2013-12-14
  12. ^ Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 3 Relinked 2013-12-14
  13. ^ Amazon US: Borgen – Season 3 Relinked 2013-12-14
  14. ^ a b c Brown, Maggie (14 January 2012). "Borgen: Inside Danish TV's thriller factory". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Merrick, Jane (3 February 2013). "From rainy Copenhagen, to wet and windy Westminster". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  16. ^ Borgen: The Best TV Show You’ve Never Seen
  17. ^ King, Stephen (21 December 2012). "Stephen King: The Best TV I Saw in 2012". Entertainment Weekly. 
  18. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (20 October 2011). "Cover-Ups, Personal and Political". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-13. 
  19. ^ "Borgen ended like a soap opera" (in Danish). Politiken. Retrieved 2013-03-11. 
  20. ^ "Behind the walls" (in Danish). Berlingske. Retrieved 2013-03-11. 
  21. ^ "Why Borgen will be sorely missed" (in Danish). BT. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  22. ^ "Conservative politician: Borgen was used as leverage for debate on prostitution" (in Danish). Information. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  23. ^ 73rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2014.
  24. ^ IMDb: Awards for Borgen Retrieved 2012-01-15
  25. ^ p.3 "Golden Nymphs Awards Listing Palmarès des Nymphes d’Or. 10 June 2011 – 10 Juin 2011, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco". MONACO MEDIAX. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
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  34. ^ "MMS Weekly Audience Reports" (in Swedish). MMS. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  35. ^ "SVT Help" (in Swedish). SVT. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  36. ^ Yle Arenan: Borgen Retrieved 2012-01-15
  37. ^ Yle Areena: Vallan linnake Retrieved 2012-01-15
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  41. ^ Frost, Vicky (5 February 2012). "Lilyhammer series could provide just the tonic for bereft Borgen fans". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  42. ^ Sweney, Mark (7 January 2013). "Tm Daley Splash ITV ratings". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
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  51. ^ "Une femme au pouvoir". La Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
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  66. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (26 September 2011). "NBC to adapt Danish drama Borgen with FNL's David Hudgins and Jason Katims". 
  67. ^ Borgen to get a US remake on HBO
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  69. ^ "Borgen goes from the screen to bedside table" (in Danish). DR. Retrieved 2013-02-14. 
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External links[edit]