Slow TV: a new approach to television (and life) from Norway

Life is boring, Slow TV not! Life also has some exciting moments in between the pretty boring times.

This is a good starting point to approach life, huh? If you think about it, no matter how busy you (or the others) want to be (sometimes, on purpose), life is not always exciting. But what does excitement in life mean? Is it boring or exciting to sit with your kids, playing games or even doing nothing? Is it boring or exciting to stay in on a Saturday night and simply chat with friends and wine, around the fireplace? So, why would it be boring to sit and watch a 7-hour long live coverage of a train journey, on TV?

This is the concept behind one of the most peculiar lifestyle trends from the Nordics: Slow TV. It may be boring to watch a train go through tunnels and villages. But hey, every now and then, there is an exciting moment when you can see the view from above, from a remote part of this rail track, up in the mountain. And that makes it so exciting and worth it!

Read on to find out what is Slow TV and how it started in Norway, now becoming a worldwide trend!

A new TV genre!

Are you tired of fast-paced shows and round the clock hectic news programmes? Then Slow TV is just for you. Instead of presenting many different themes and bits and bytes of everything, Slow TV focuses on one topic and takes it to the extreme. It is actually a marathon, broadcast live on TV and the internet, showing things as they happen.

But hey, it is not about a royal wedding or a spectacular celebration from somewhere in the world. It is slow paced video exploring a topic in real-time. This topic or theme is shown and analysed in a relaxed way. Often there are people explaining or talking about its history or how to do it.

It all began in 2009 in Norway. The public broadcaster, NRK, aired a live 7-hour long train journey from Oslo to Bergen, perhaps one of the most iconic train journeys in the country! Cameras were put inside and outside the train to capture and broadcast the view from the train as it passed from towns and villages, through amazing valleys and on top of snowy mountains. In between, when the train would pass through dark tunnels, there were archival clips from the railway line’s 100-year old history shown.

Boring? At least 1 in 4 Norwegians watched it! This broadcast was such a success that has been called the world’s first iconic Slow TV. And it also gained international attention from all around the world. A new TV genre was born.

The next big thing(s)!

What came next no one would have anticipated. And NRK did not compromise in creativity. They wanted to make it even bigger. So, what comes next after a several hours long train journey? Ahem, a several days long cruise travel! Got it!

That was the “Hurtigruten minute by minute” in 2011. A 5.5-day long journey along Norway’s iconic northern coast, from the city of Bergen to Kirkenes, up north, close to the borders with Russia. 134 hours of live broadcast, featuring amazing landscapes, sea and skies, midnight sun, warm welcome by people in the coastal areas and ports. That was another marvel that 1 in 2 Norwegians watched. Plus, thousands of viewers from Scandinavia and the world.

It was perhaps the most spectacular and engaging live and unscripted show, broadcast on TV, ever. And the most synced one. As the ship voyaged along the coast, people showed up, waving, singing, making themselves heard and seen, in creative ways. Social media went on fire too! There were even 3 wedding proposals captured live. And Norway’s Queen waving at the ship. WOW!

Since then, there has been a long list of new, fresher and equally spectacular (or even peculiar) Slow TV shows aired, like:
– a 24-hour long Salmon River show, with 18 hours of live salmon fishing
– a 12-hour long National Wood Night, about firewood (featuring an 8-hour long live crackling fireplace)
– a 14-hour long Piip Show, showing the life of birds in a cage that was made like a human cafe (seeing is believing)

How creative! Life can’t be boring in the end!

Why Slow TV?

Well, you should know the answer by now. We are used to living with an ever busy approach to life.

We seldom spend time on our relaxation and well-being. The media frenzy and social media make it even worse as we are all used (or worse, addicted?) to consuming content (life too) at a very fast pace. Whoa, slow down a bit! Or watch some Slow TV, it will do good to you, promise!

– be more present: we are often carried away by our thoughts, anxieties, fears or just the hurry to finish our everyday errands. Focusing on here and now can help with winding down and recharging your mental batteries.

– find joy in focusing on simple things: it does not always have to be a constant worry about what is happening in the world or how the new economic status-quo is being established. Focusing on simple everyday life things and skills (well, even knitting, if you fancy) can give you as much joy as well.

– relax: most of the Slow TV shows do not have music. If they are about nature, you can only hear the natural sounds like running water, wind blowing, birds chirping, a train whistling.

We had a 2019 Swedish Slow TV show playing in the background while writing this edition. Try it and let yourself slow down! Life can be exciting with slow things too!