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The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory – Danish political TV drama Borgen is back

Nine years after acclaimed Danish TV series Borgen ended, a long awaited fourth season is about to air. Scandinavian Traveler was granted an exclusive interview with two of the principal actors, Sidse Babett Kundsen and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, about what the series has meant for their careers.

When Borgen ended nine years ago, nobody thought there would be another series, that there would be more to say about Denmark’s female Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg and the people around her.

At the same time, there has been a big desire for a new season among the general public – and the Danish series has remained very much alive all round the world via streaming services and bestselling DVD box sets.

And now, it’s time again. The new season has the sub-heading “The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory”. The series will premiere on Danish public broadcasting service DR, before being shown on Netflix worldwide in April.

But it will be a different Borgen this time round. Birgitte Nyborg, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, is now the Foreign Minister.

“Adam Price, who created the series, proposed a story that started outside the Borgen universe. It is a drama in eight parts, but one single extended story, and more in the nature of a thriller. The action revolves around the discovery of oil in the Arctic, where the big players from the US and Russia are drawn in. It is on an entirely new scale, but takes the DNA from the original Borgen, and adds something new,” says Babett Knudsen.

Babett Knudsen was absolutely convinced it was the end for Borgen after series three.

“Even when I was going to meet Adam, I thought “no, everything that could be said, had been said”. But then the thought grew on me, and I could see that it might work. I felt that I wanted to use those muscles again, even though I was a bit afraid about coming back to the role.”

Birgitte Hjort Sorensen as Katrine Fonsmark.

Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, who plays journalist Katrine Fønsmark, agrees:

“There had never been any talk of a new series. Quite the opposite in fact, we don’t have that tradition in Denmark, of TV series continuing season after season. When Adam spoke about a possible continuation and wanted to test the mood amongst those of us who had been involved, I immediately said yes. Borgen means so much to me. It was my first job, and the most permanent workplace I have ever had. And the series has given me opportunities to work abroad, something I had wanted to do but never thought possible,” says Hjort Sørensen.

Power plays in new season of Borgen

Borgen refers to Christiansborg, home of the Danish Parliament. In short, the series concerns the often intricate power play within Danish politics, along with the private lives of the main characters and how this affects their work.

The principal character is Birgitte Nyborg, Denmark’s first female Prime Minister, played by Babett Knudsen. Her spin doctor is Kasper Juul, played by Pilou Asbaek. The third main role is journalist Katrine Fønsmark, played by Hjort Sørensen.

When season four starts, Birgitte Nyborg is the Foreign Minister. Fønsmark had been her new spin doctor (Kasper Juul has disappeared from the story line) but has now gone back to journalism and her old workplace, TV1. In the series, we get to follow Fønsmark’s battle to balance her work as a journalist and her friendship with Nyborg.

“One difference compared to the previous seasons is that there is less focus on the private lives of the characters in this series. Nyborg’s ex-husband is living with a new family, her children have flown the nest. She ponders over “where am I in life”. Previously, it was about how private life and work affect each other. That is not the case now,” says Babett Knudsen.

Borgen as a springboard

Scandinavian actors are hot internationally, not least actors that have been in successful movies and TV series. Pilou Asbaek has built a successful career in the US. Hjort Sørensen has appeared in an episode of Game of Thrones, she has also been seen in Midsomer Murders, Pitch Perfect 2, and Vinyl.

“My career abroad has been very varied, and it is exciting to be able to do something that is different. The financial opportunities are totally different, for example,” says Hjort Sørensen.

Babett Knudsen has had roles in The Duke of Burgundy, 150 Milligrams, Westworld, Roadkill, and Ted Lasso. She has recently completed shooting of a French comedy Juste ciel! about cycling nuns.

Will there be more Borgen?

“I don’t think so. That has probably reached the end of the road,” she says.

Gruppe Gronland from Danish TV series Borgen.

Borgen premieres on Danish DR1 and DRTV on 13 February and on Netflix in early April (date not yet released).

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