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Latest Scandi Drama Mammon Premiers on More4

As Norwegian thriller Mammon gets its UK premiere on More4 this Friday, Eva Novrup Redvall looks at how subtitled Scandinavian drama is branching out beyond the BBC.

BBC4’s 9pm Saturday night slot has been the successful home of a streak of Scandinavian drama series, including Wallander, The Killing (Forbrydelsen), Borgen and The Bridge (Bron). However, the latest Scandinavian crime series to hit UK screens will not be shown on the Beeb, but on rival More4, Channel 4′s  platform for ‘intelligent and insightful’ programming.

Norwegian thriller Mammon gets its UK premier on 4More

Norwegian thriller Mammon gets its UK premier on 4More – the channel’s first major Scandi drama

After scoring a hit with French thriller The Returned (Les Revenants) last year (the second series will show on the channel later this year), Channel 4 is moving into the Nordic Noir territory with the six-part thriller Mammon, a story of greed and deadly conspiracies in the Norwegian world of financing. Produced in-house by Norwegian public service broadcaster NRK, the show has attracted some of the highest ever ratings for a crime series on national television. Even before airing, the remake rights were sold to 20th Century Fox, and a second eight-part season starts shooting in November, this time focusing on the world of politics.

A diversified UK market

As Channel 4′s chief creative officer Jay Hunt told Broadcast earlier this year, The Returned showed that terrestrial channels can deal with subtitled dramas if the story is good enough. With an average 1.8 million consolidated viewers across the eight-episode run, The Returned has given Channel 4 the confidence to buy other foreign dramas. Hunt argues that the success of such shows points to how the UK market has diversified, making British broadcasters less reliant on American imports.

Sky Arts acquisition of  The Legacy (Arvingerne), the latest series from DR, Denmark’s public service broadcaster, is another example of Scandinavian series moving beyond BBC4. Having previously shown foreign language dramas from Italy (Romanzo Criminale), France (Braquo) and Spain (Grand Hotel), the subscription channel will broadcast the  ten-part Danish family drama this autumn.

More than chilling crimes …

Whereas BBC4 has been the place to go for Scandinavian fare in the past few years, other broadcasters are becoming more willing to take a chance on subtitled series that focus not only on ‘death in a cold climate’, as crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw has labeled the Scandinavian crime series, but also on other genres and material.

There is no reason for Nordic Noir fans to despair, however. Besides Mammon, there is still more Scandinavian crime series in the pipeline, not the least on BBC4, which has picked up the third season of the popular Swedish crime series Wallander, while the fourth, three-episode season of the UK version starring Kenneth Branagh is set to air on BBC later this year. BBC4 has also bought the rights for Crimes of Passion, a murder mystery series set in the 1950s based on the novels of Maria Lang, the ‘Swedish Agatha Christie’.

The chilling crimes of the North are thus still going strong. Yet broadcasters are hoping other kinds of Scandinavian drama will prove equally popular with UK audiences.

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