Borgen (TV series)

Genre Political drama
Created by Adam Price
Written by Adam Price
Jeppe Gjervig Gram
Tobias Lindholm
Directed by Søren Kragh-Jacobsen
Rumle Hammerich
Starring Sidse Babett Knudsen
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
Pilou Asbæk
Mikael Birkkjær
Søren Malling
Composer(s) Halfdan E
Country of origin Denmark
Original language(s) Danish
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 30 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Camilla Hammerich
Running time 60 minutes
Original network DR1
Original release 26 September 2010 (2010-09-26) – 10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)
External links

Borgen (Danish pronunciation: [ˈb̥ɒːˀʊ̯ən]) is a Danish political drama television series created by Adam Price. It tells how Birgitte Nyborg, a politician, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark against all the odds. "Borgen" ("the Castle") is the informal name of Christiansborg Palace, which houses all three branches of Danish government: the Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Supreme Court.

The series stars Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg Christensen; Mikael Birkkjær as her husband; Pilou Asbæk as Kasper Juul, a spin doctor; Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Katrine Fønsmark, a TV1 news anchor; Søren Malling as Torben Friis, news editor for TV1; and Benedikte Hansen as Hanne Holm, a journalist.[1] The show's creator, Adam Price, is a co-writer with Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias Lindholm. DR, the Danish public broadcaster, previously produced The Killing, another international Danish hit series.

Thirty episodes of 58 minutes, divided into three series, have been made. The first series was shown in Denmark in the autumn of 2010, the second in the autumn of 2011,[2] and the third on 1 January 2013. Prior to the airing of the third season, Price revealed that it was likely to be the series' final season.[3]

Birgitte Nyborg

The main character Birgitte Nyborg is popularly believed to be based on Denmark's first female prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt,[4] even though Thorning-Schmidt was not elected until after the second series of Borgen had been made.[5] As Adam Price, the creator of the series, has stated that: "I definitely want you to believe there is a shred of idealism in Birgitte Nyborg that is real. She's also become a very professional political being, but there is definitely that idealism, and that's important."[6]

Sidse Babett Knudsen, who plays Nyborg and assists in developing the script, described her relationship with the character in an interview. "They liked to see a woman feeling guilty and I didn't like that... I think [Nyborg] should be responsible for her feelings. And when she has to make unsympathetic decisions, she should stand by them. I don't want her to feel sorry for herself or suddenly become a soppy mess in her private life, because you wouldn't believe her as a prime minister if she did that."[7]

At the beginning of the first series, the main character goes by her married name of Birgitte Nyborg Christensen, but, in the course of the series, she divorces her husband Philip Christensen and is thereafter known simply as Birgitte Nyborg. In the first episode, Birgitte is the leader of a minority political party, the "Moderates". However, as a result of a sequence of events following a closely fought general election, she finds herself a compromise candidate for the role of Prime Minister of Denmark and remains in this position until the end of the second series. In the elapsed time between the second and third series, Nyborg loses her position and becomes a businesswoman and public speaker, returning in the third series to form a new political party, the "New Democrats".[8]


Actor Character Character's Role
Sidse Babett Knudsen Birgitte Nyborg Moderate leader  Prime Minister (season 1 & 2)  New Democrats party leader (season 3)
Nyborg-Christensen family
Mikael Birkkjær Phillip Christensen Birgitte Nyborg's husband  lecturer at Copenhagen Business School
Freja Riemann Laura Christensen Birgitte Nyborg-Christensen and Phillip Christensen's daughter
Emil Poulsen Magnus Christensen Birgitte Nyborg-Christensen and Phillip Christensen's son
Birgitte Nyborg's staff
Pilou Asbæk Kasper Juul Communications Chief for Birgitte Nyborg (season 1 & 2)  Journalist (season 3)
Morten Kirkskov Niels Erik Lund Prime Minister's Permanent Secretary
Iben Dorner Sanne Prime Minister's personal assistant
Hanne Hedelund Jytte Prime Minister's secretary
Channel TV1
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen Katrine Fønsmark TV1/Ekspress journalist (season 1 & 2)  Campaign Manager (season 3)
Benedikte Hansen Hanne Holm Journalist on TV1 (season 1 & 3)  Ekspres journalist (season 2)
Søren Malling Torben Friis TV1 news editor
Lisbeth Wulff Pia Munk TV1 editor
Thomas Levin Ulrik Mørch TV1 news anchor
Christian Tafdrup Alexander 'Alex' Hjort TV1 programme director
Anders Juul Simon Bech TV1 news anchor
Nyborg's Government
Lars Knutzon Bent Sejrø Finance Minister (season 1)  Birgitte's advisor (seasons 2 & 3)
Dar Salim Amir Diwan Green Party leader, Energy and Climate Minister
Stine Stengade Henriette Klitgaard Minister for business (Moderate Party)
Jens Jacob Tychsen Jacob Kruse EU Minister (Moderate Party), later EU Commissioner, later Moderate Party leader
New Democrats
Kristian Halken Erik Hoffmann Previously Vice-chairman of the New Right party
Julie Agnete Vang Christensen Nete Buch Previously Moderate member of parliament
Jens Albinus Jon Berthelsen Previously Moderate member of parliament
Lars Mikkelsen Søren Ravn New Democrats economics consultant
Labour Party
Peter Mygind Michael Laugesen Labour leader  Ekspres newspaper editor
Flemming Sørensen Bjørn Marrot Foreign Minister, Labour leader (replacing Laugesen)
Lars Brygmann Troels Höxenhaven Justice Minister and Labour Party deputy leader
Bjarne Henriksen Hans Christian Thorsen Defence Minister (Labour)
Petrine Ager Pernille Madsen Labour deputy leader; Minister for Equality  Minister of Finance)
Party Leaders
Søren Spanning Lars Hesselboe Liberal leader  Prime Minister (seasons 1 & 3)
Ole Thestrup Svend Åge Saltum Freedom leader
Marie Askehave Benedikte Nedergaard Freedom
Jannie Faurschou Yvonne Kjær New Right leader
Signe Egholm Olsen Anne Sophie Lindenkrone Solidarity Party leader
Members of the Danish Parliament
Fadime Turan Aicha Nagrawi Solidarity
Claus Bue Parly Petersen Labour
Mette Kolding Inger Hansen Liberal
Laura Allen Müller Nadia Barazani New Democrats
Other characters
Alastair Mackenzie Jeremy Welsh Birgitte Nyborg's boyfriend (season 3)
Claus Riis Østergaard Ole Dahl Communications Chief for Lars Hasselboe
Mille Dinesen Cecelie Toft Phillip Christensen's girlfriend  Paediatrician (season 2)

Political parties and media

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

While the political parties in the series are fictional, they do have "recognisable real-life equivalents":[9]

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).[9]

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 2'eren is similar to TV 2.


Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 10 26 September 2010 (2010-09-26) 28 November 2010 (2010-11-28)
2 10 25 September 2011 (2011-09-25) 27 November 2011 (2011-11-27)
3 10 1 January 2013 (2013-01-01) 10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)


Adam Price with Peabody for Borgen at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards

The series has been well received by critics and audiences alike.[10] It became a hit in the UK as well as Denmark, becoming one of several Danish series to do so in recent years.[10] 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.[10] 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.[11]

The US critics have been similarly positive, with Newsweek dubbing Borgen "the best TV show you have never seen"[12] 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.[13] 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."[14]

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";[15] 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".[16] 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".[17] 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.[18]


Award Show Year Category Nominee(s) Result
International Emmy Award 2012 Best Performance by an Actress Sidse Babett Knudsen Nominated
Monte Carlo TV Festival 2011 Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Sidse Babett Knudsen Won
2013 Best International Drama TV Series Borgen III Nominated
Best European Drama TV Series Borgen III Won
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Birgitte Hjort Sørensen Nominated
British Academy Television Awards 2012 International Prize Borgen Won
2014 International Prize Borgen Nominated
Prix Italia 2010 Best TV Drama - Series and Serials Borgen Won
Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels 2011 Best TV Series and Serials Borgen Won
TV Series and Serials: Best Music Halfdan E Won
Peabody Award 2013 Area of Excellence Borgen Won[19]

Awards for the show include the 2010 Prix Italia for best drama series,[20] a Golden Nymph to Sidse Babett Knudsen for Outstanding Actress in a drama series at the 2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival,[21] and the Fipa Grand Prize for Best TV Series as well as for Best Original Soundtrack at the 2011 Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels.[22] The program also won the award for Best International TV series at the 2012 British Academy Television Awards.[23]

International broadcast

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 2015 Deutschlandfunk broadcast this radio serial with German explanations for some of the wordplays such as MOM=MON for Momentum=Monsanto.[66]


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.[67] 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.[68]



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.

In the U.S. MHz Networks released all three seasons and the complete series box set on DVD coded Region 1.

DVD Name Episodes DVD release dates
Region 2 (Denmark) Region 2 (UK) Region 1 (US)
The Complete First Series 10 3 February 2012 6 February 2012[69] 12 March 2013[70]
The Complete Second Series 10 30 May 2012 4 February 2013[71] 25 June 2013[72]
The Complete First and Second Series 20 3 April 2013 4 February 2013[73] -
The Complete Third Series 10 14 November 2013 16 December 2013[74] 21 January 2014[75]
The Complete Series 30 - 16 December 2013[76] 21 October 2014[77]


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.[78] 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.[79][80]

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


  1. Gilbert, Gerard (5 January 2012). "Nothing Like A Dane". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  2. 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
  3. "Borgen series three will likely be its last, reveals the show's creator". Radio Times. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  4. "Borgen supremacy: DR reveals the secret to its success", The Copenhagen Post, 20 January 2012. Accessed 20 December 2013
  5. "Sidse Babett Knudsen: 'We had no idea Borgen would have any appeal outside Denmark", The Guardian, 1 February 2012. Accessed 20 December 2013
  6. "Borgen creator Adam Price on what's next for Birgitte Nyborg in the show's third and final series", The Guardian, 14 November 2013. Accessed 20 December 2013
  7. "Borgen: Sidse Babett Knudsen interview", The Telegraph, 27 Jan 2012. Accessed 20 December 2013
  8. "Clive James: Losing sleep over beautiful Birgitte", The Telegraph, 20 November 2013. Accessed 20 December 2013
  9. 1 2 "Revealed: the real Borgen", The Radio Times, 4 February 2012
  10. 1 2 3 Brown, Maggie (14 January 2012). "Borgen: Inside Danish TV's thriller factory". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  11. Merrick, Jane (3 February 2013). "From rainy Copenhagen, to wet and windy Westminster". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  12. Borgen: The Best TV Show You’ve Never Seen
  13. King, Stephen (21 December 2012). "Stephen King: The Best TV I Saw in 2012". Entertainment Weekly.
  14. Stanley, Alessandra (20 October 2011). "Cover-Ups, Personal and Political". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
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  19. 73rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2014.
  20. IMDb: Awards for Borgen Retrieved 2012-01-15
  21. "Golden Nymphs Awards Listing Palmarès des Nymphes d'Or. 10 June 2011 – 10 Juin 2011, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco" (PDF). MONACO MEDIAX. p. 3. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  22. "Jury and Awards - Series and Serials - FIPA 2011 - International Festival of Audiovisual Programs". FIPA. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
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  33. Yle Areena: Vallan linnake Retrieved 2012-01-15
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  38. Sweney, Mark (7 January 2013). "Tm Daley Splash ITV ratings". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
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  68. Borgen to get a US remake on HBO
  69. Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 1 Relinked 2013-12-14
  70. Amazon US: Borgen – Season 1 Relinked 2013-12-14
  71. Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 2 Relinked 2013-12-14
  72. Amazon US: Borgen – Season 2 Relinked 2013-12-14
  73. Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 1 & 2 Relinked 2013-12-14
  74. Amazon UK: Borgen – Series 3
  75. Amazon US: Borgen – Season 3
  76. Amazon UK: Borgen – Trilogy
  77. Amazon US: Borgen – The Complete Series
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External links

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