Denmark deconstructs TV! TV! TV!

At last week’s INPUT Conference in Sydney, one screening of an international show caught my attention.

TV! TV! TV! from Denmark deconstructs television for a broad audience. It’s a little dryer than The Gruen Transfer and not as showbiz as TV TV which aired in Australia in the 1990s.

In the episode that was screened we learned about how some foreign formats translate to the Danish market successfully, while others don’t. For instance, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares had been given a local treatment, but the chef reacted to kitchen nightmares with disappointment, rather than yelling at the subjects, which is seen culturally as an inability to control one’s emotions.

Other episodes looked at genres, opening titles and more. The show screens in Denmark on public broadcaster DR2.

Producer Thomas Klinkby and host Ane Cortzen (pictured) gave an insight into how the show came about and how they juggled commercial interests on a public broadcaster.

“This area of culture had been severely neglected,” said Klinkby.

“The TV critics were all at the newspapers and they seemed to be middle-aged men who didn’t really like TV. So we had to do something about that.

“We broadcast at 8pm Mondays which is a very competitive time. But we thought it was very important to be seen as a proper TV show and not just a show about other TV shows. Entertaining as well as educating.

“I think we reached a much younger audience by doing the show on DR2 which is a very niche channel with a lot of academic programmes.”

Cortzen said the show sought to embrace all forms of television equally.

“We wanted to show that Paradise Hotel could be just as good to watch as the News if it’s done right. We wanted to deal with this politically correct attitude towards television that Reality is crap and News and Documentaries are good, because it can go both ways. And we could do this because we were on this channel.”

Each show is linked by a theme, with regular segments.

“There’s usually a How and Why question answered, but we’ve done 40 episodes. We did a show about the weather on TV, how to produce it and why we watch it a lot. We’ve done shows about sports, football, news, Reality contestants, language, scheduling and programming -pretty much everything on TV,” she said.

The show also has approval from other broadcasters to feature their content.

“In a way they’re very fond of us and like to be exposed so we haven’t had problems with that,” said Cortzen.

“They find it entertaining and enlightening.”

“We criticise a lot of our own programmes too, but nobody has ever tried to influence us in any way.”

I’d be keen to see an Australian programme that dissects and analyses Australian television, but I guess it would take a public broadcaster to be independent enough to tackle it.

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