It’s a fact that modern life is more hectic than ever. Via phones, we’re constantly connected to others, subject to interruptions and bombarded with incoming information. For the sake of our well-being we’re encouraged to rebel against this fast-paced lifestyle, disconnect for a while, breathe, be mindful and generally slow down. Slow living is a lifestyle choice and can mean anything from slow cooking to slow fashion. But slow TV? How boring! Why would Netflix show 8 hours of people chopping wood and then burning it in a fireplace?
A few years back Norwegian TV Producer Thomas Hellum mounted a camera onto the front of the Bergen to Oslo train and broadcast the journey on Norway’s 5th most popular tv channel thinking that up to 2000 railway fantatics would tune in. 1.2 million watched it. Wait – what?!
All Aboard The Boring Boat
He then decided to push the boring boundary and broadcast the 5 and half day boat journey that travels the coast of Norway… Live. Each shot was at least 10 minutes long, sometimes so slow that you could easily be fooled into thinking you were looking at a screensaver.
The non-stop broadcast was nothing short of amazing. As the programme’s 11 mounted cameras captured the stunning scenic landscape Norwegians turned up all over the country to wave to the ship as it passed.
The event became a national festival as the people of Norway owned the show and shared their stories and broadcast messages to their loved ones. Social media went mad and when the Queen of Norway couldn’t resist a wave to the ship, Twitter was so overwhelmed that it ground to a halt.
The programe (world’s longest) was 134 hours, 42 minutes and 45 seconds and over 3.2 million Norwegians watched it (out of a population of 5 million). The phenonomen has become a UNESCO document.
More Boring TV
The success continues. Hellum has since broadcast 8 uneditied hours of knitting, a night of chopping and burning wood and most recently a minute-by-minute hiking trip. Over 70% of the country’s population tuned in to watch parts of the 100 hour walk.
The UK’s Slow TV
Inspired by Norway, BBC4 has broadcast several slow TV shows including Dawn Chorus: Sounds of Spring, which attracted 423,000 viewers at 8pm on a Monday night. Cassian Harrison, the editor of BBC4, said: “We are so used to the conventional grammar of television in which everything gets faster and faster, we thought it would be interesting to make something that wasn’t continually shouting at you and coming up with the next climactic moment.”
It doesn’t compare to ratings winners such as Game of Thrones with over 16.5 million views, or even Strictly Come Dancing, which hit a peak of 10.4 million viewers this weekend, but perhaps there is a future for slow TV? Netflix, which is currently broadcasting all 11 of Norway’s slow shows obviously think so. Will slow tv be a slow grower in the UK? Maybe…. but let’s not rush into it.