You’ve heard about slow food. Now here’s slow … TV? In this funny talk, Norwegian television producer Thomas Hellum shares how he and his team began to broadcast long, boring events, often live — and found a rapt audience. Shows include a 7 hour train journey, an 18 hour fishing expedition and a 5.5 day ferry voyage along the coast of Norway. The results are both beautiful and fascinating. Really.
A few years back, Norway’s public TV channel NRK decided to broadcast live coverage of a seven-hour train ride — seven hours of simple footage, a train rolling down the tracks. Norwegians, more than a million of them according to the ratings, loved it. A new kind of reality TV show was born, and it goes against all the rules of TV engagement. There is no story line, no script, no drama, no climax, and it’s called Slow TV. For the past two months, Norwegians have been watching a cruise ship’s journey up the coast, and there’s a lot of fog on that coast. Executives at Norway’s National Broadcasting Service are now considering broadcasting a night of knitting nationwide. On the surface, it sounds boring, because it is, but something about this TV experiment has gripped Norwegians. So we sent the Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro to Oslo to find out what it is, but first a warning: Viewers may find some of the images in the following report disappointing.
Thomas Hellum has worked at NRK Hordaland since 1992. The former lighting designer moved into photography and then began work as a producer, specializing in documentaries. In 2009, he became one of the driving forces behind the “Slow TV” movement, filming and broadcasting apparently boring events as they happen and turning them into genuinely thrilling television drama.
In 2008, Hellum won the Grand Prix Golden Prague at the International Television Festival in Prague for the documentary Ballad for Edvard Grieg, which tracked the composer’s travels through Europe. He also won the Rose d’Or Award for The Sound of Ole Bull at the Rose d’Or Festival in Lucerne in 2012. His personal motto: “Life is best when it’s a bit strange.”