The longest Slow TV ever for their 100th anniversary

Finding it hard to calm down? Or unwind after a hectic day?

Sometimes, it’s really worth it to slow down. Literally. And despite what you may believe, TV can help you with that.

Wait, how? They usually say that watching television might make you nervous. Let’s say by watching the news bulletin, that is almost always filled with distressing events. Doctors and therapists suggest we turn off the TV and spend more time away from the screen.

So, how TV can really help you unwind? It depends on what you watch. If for example, it is about watching nature, with little talking and a lot of natural sounds and majestic sceneries, yes, watching TV can be beneficial.

This is Slow TV, a concept of television shows that started off in Norway. And the minds of NRK, Norway’s public broadcaster, don’t show signs of slowing down.

Well, not exactly. We could say the opposite. They indeed want to slow it down more and more. And this time they have made another record: the longest Slow TV show EVER, from the arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

Read on to find out why it was important to do this 9+ day continuous broadcast from the frozen islands of the Arctic Ocean and how Norwegians reacted to it!

Facts, please! What is Svalbard?

It is an island archipelago way over the Arctic circle, almost halfway between Norway and the North Pole. That is really very North, as North as it can get.

Its capital city, Longyearbyen, is actually the northernmost permanent human settlement in the world. People there share the islands with the bears and also make it without any sunlight for 5 months every winter.

Apart from its jaw-dropping scenery, Svalbard is of great geopolitical significance, because of its position, right beneath the North Pole, over Europe and on the way from Asia to America and vice versa.

This is where the story begins!

Anniversary time!

Svalbard has a long history but it was only 100 years ago that an international treaty decided for its political status and its future. It was back in 1920, on the 16th of February, that the treaty was signed by Norway and the participating powers of that time.

The countries that ruled the world back then (like France and England but not Germany or Russia) actually gave Svalbard to Norway. Many say that Norway demanded it as compensation for their losses at sea during WWI.

“Yeah” they said to Norway “You can take it!”. Was that an easy decision? Well, because of its geopolitical importance, everybody was reluctant to give the islands to another superpower. Norway was a small, insignificant (to their eyes) country, more or less peaceful, mostly neutral and not aggressive at all. They would take good care of the islands.

Russia soon regretted not being present in the talks so they could claim the territory (but they had their own internal issues back then). Norway had always had a presence in the area. Russia too and they also claim the Svalbard islands were discovered by a Russian explorer before the other Europeans. History repeats, you see?

Long story short, Svalbard belongs to Norway today but other 44 countries who signed the treaty have also a right to be present on Svalbard and hold business, fishing and hunting rights as well.

So, it’s a peculiar kind of international territory, managed by the Norwegians though!

Slow TV

To commemorate this anniversary, NRK decided to launch the longest Slow TV ever, from Spitsbergen, the largest island. In order to let Norwegians learn and admire the sheer beauty of the islands: fjords, mountains, wild-life.

The documentary is called “Svalbard Minute by Minute” and was filmed in August 2019 during an expedition by the legendary Hurtigruten, Norway’s public ferry line along the country’s jagged coastline and until up north, to Svalbard.

It’s a 9 day, 5 hour and 59 minute long uninterrupted broadcast that features amazing footage along Spitsbergen’s coastline, paired with interviews and stories from the areas it passes by.

And Norwegians embraced it in an enthusiastic way: according to NRK almost 1 million viewers tuned in to watch minutes and hours of this amazing journey. You know, they know it belongs to their country, they are proud of that but on the other hand, they don’t want to brag about it.

This is why there will be no celebrations for their 100th anniversary of joining Norway. Just this 9-day long Slow TV show.

Because things in life can be good and slow. No need to rush! Take it slow.

Image: Jens Henrik Nybo -