Back on September 21st 2011, a television series aired in Sweden that would soon become one of the most iconic Nordic television shows of all time.
The foundation had already been set by the incredibly popular Danish series The Killing, released a few years prior and which put the phrase ‘Nordic Noir’ firmly on the map, especially in the UK and US, inspiring an American remake. Following the success of The Killing came of course, The Bridge.
Spanning four dramatic series, with one of the most iconic female detectives, and inspiring so many remakes (we’ll get to that later) – it would build a fanbase that became besotted with Nordic Noir and the show.
So, on the 10-year anniversary of that first episode, we look back and list ten things we love about the show and its legacy, and speak to some people for whom The Bridge had a big impact on their lives…
Of course, the first thing we must mention are the incredible characters and their chemistry that make the show so great to watch. And top of that list of course is the extraordinary Saga, expertly played by actress Sofia Helin.
Seemingly unlike any other TV female detective we had ever seen, we were endeared to her quirkiness, social awkwardness, and lack of sense of humour that made her unapologetically herself and an unlikely hero.
2. The Other Actors and Characters
The interplay between Saga and Martin Rohde, played by Kim Bodnia, is great to watch. And supporting Saga and Martin are a host of other great actors and characters.
Said Legue, played Navid in Season One of The Bridge as a hard-working colleague of Saga and the team. We spoke to Said about his fond memories working on that first season.
First of all I’m proud to be the first with foreign looks to play the role of police in a Swedish production.
My experience working on The Bridge was amazing. I loved my team, and we had such a great time and it was teamwork all the way!
I remember the first time I met Kim Bodnia [Martin] I didn’t understand what he was saying as he was talking so fast in Danish, but when we were hanging together before and after the set we finally got to understand each other.
When I got the offer to play the character Navid in season one, it was such a happy feeling but I didn’t know that it was going to be such a big success internationally. It has been very cool to be a part in Swedish film history
3. The Øresund Bridge
The infamous bridge that the show is named after is impressive, iconic and a constant presence in the show, including the great title sequence. It is a physical and symbolic link between Denmark and Sweden, uniting places, people, who are so close but often possess so many differences. It’s where it all started.
4. The Theme Song
The theme song to the series is one that everyone is a fan of. Whilst many might like to skip the intro sequence, most fans of the series always wanted to sit through the hypnotic sounds of The Choir of Young Believers as various shots of the Oresund bridge filtered into view.
Who can argue with 19 million recorded listens of the track on Spotify!
How much do you think you know about the band though? Here are a few fun facts you may never have known:
- The Choir of Young Believers is in fact a one-man project that invites different collaborators, the project is created by Jannis Noya Makrigiannis who has Greek, Danish, and Indonesian roots!
- The artist also provided the music to one of Thomas Vinterberg’s movies ‘Submarino’
- The song that was used at The Bridge‘s theme has had a number or remixes – our favourite being from Anjunadeep artists Jody Wisternoff, Lane 8, and James Grant who turn the hit theme into a dancefloor deep house floor filler!
5. The Copenhagen Tours
The cult status of the show generated a demand for fans looking for tours of the famous location.
We spoke with Christine from the Copenhagen-based Nordic Noir Tours to find out more about how The Bridge became a huge part of her life, even to the extent that she ended up as an extra!
Well, it is not related to season one but I am proud to say that I had ten seconds of fame being an extra on The Bridge. Having run the tours since 2015 I begged one of the casting directors to get me involved and in the end, I finally had my opportunity.
For those that remember the scene where a girl faints whilst another pickpockets the people checking to see if she is okay – well I am one of those onlookers wearing a beret (because I am French)!
During her moment in front of the camera and on set, Christine picked up on some unusual activity which would, in turn, blow her mind for any future viewings of The Bridge.
There were these two guys walking around on set – and it was a huge production crew as it was – but these two guys had this specific job to do. They were walking around and looking at their surroundings, they then stopped by this colorful bin and started to cover it up.
I found out that it was their role to make sure there was nothing too colourful in shot to keep this dark and grey aesthetic that The Bridge is so famous for!
So now a new fun game for your Bridge re-watches – spot something colourful! I wondered what was the funniest experience she has with the tour?
Well, there was a hen party that booked a private tour. It was for four girls – and the first one turned up with this excellent blonde wig, a pair of leather trousers, and of course I could see she was dressed up as Saga.
Then another girl turned up – the same outfit – and finally the other two. So I ended up walking around Copenhagen with four girls dressed up as Saga. It was so much fun!
Christine has been running the Nordic Noir Tours along with working for other trips organized in the city (check out her website Nordic Insite.) Sadly the pandemic has slowed everything down and she hasn’t seen as many of our nordic noir loving faces but that isn’t to say that the tours have stopped.
We are still operating and can’t wait to see you again!
Make sure when you next visit Copenhagen you try and include a tour with Christine – her knowledge is incredible and she will take you to locations for The Bridge, The Killing, Borgen and also Follow The Money. It is quite frankly several hours of paradise for us Nordic Noir-loving folk!
6. Scenes of Sweden & Denmark
As keen travellers and lovers of the Nordic region, we of course loved the many shots of Malmo and Copenhagen igniting our wanderlust….even if it is always shrouded in a grey hue and revolving around murder! And we enjoyed hearing the sounds of Swedish and Danish being spoken and some of the misunderstandings that arise from the slight language barrier.
7. Rise of the Detective
Thanks to the incredible success of The Killing and The Bridge, we’ve since had many other fantastic Nordic detective shows, many of them with great female leads.
One of our favourites is Liv Mjones who plays Fredrika Bergman in Stockholm Requiem – you can read our interview with her here. And very recently we enjoyed watching Lotten Roos in the true-crime series The Hunt for a Killer.
8. The Car
Who can forget Saga’s precious Jäger Grun (Hunter Green) 1977 Porsche 911S, a character in its own right in the show and went on to enjoy cult status? So much so that it raised £125,000 for charity Water Aid when it was auctioned in 2018!
9. One-Episode Cameos
The Bridge was one of the first Nordic Noirs we ever saw and since then we have watched many, many Nordic TV shows and films – we are Nordic Watchlist after all!
And some of the faces that popped up in an episode of The Bridge, we have since seen crop up in many other places. For example, Lotten Roos (Hunt For a Killer), Eva Melander (Border), Magnus Bruun (The Last Kingdom), and Nicolaj Kopernikus (The Killing).
10. The Remakes
Though I couldn’t find a statistic to fully back this, I am pretty much 99.9% certain that no other TV Show has had so many different remakes in different shapes and disguises!
The UK re-made the series but changed it to The Tunnel, where a body was found between British and French boundaries, in the US we had The Bridge which had a body found on the US and Mexican borders.
In Germany, there was Der Passe, where a body was found on the mountains between the German and Austrian borders (we have actually watched this one and it was pretty decent), and that isn’t the end of it – there has been Russia/Estonia and most recently Malaysia/Singapore too!
Whether you would like to watch The Bridge for the first time or enjoy a re-watch, you can currently find all seasons on BBC iPlayer or you can purchase them on DVD.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the show or your favourite moments and memories, so please like, share or leave us a comment.
Feature by Alex & Claire Minnis @ Nordic Watchlist
One thought on “Celebrating 10 years since season one of ‘The Bridge’ aired in Sweden”
Very good article with some interesting insights. Just a few observations. I reckon the ‘foundation’ for ‘Nordic Noir’ was really Beck rather than The Killing. It introduced the ‘steady old hand’ (in The Bridge – Hans and Lillian), the ‘renegade cop’ (Martin) and the oddball character (Saga). I often wondered why the Copenhagen Tourist Board didn’t complain about the series. The city was always presented as dark and depressing and somewhere you wouldn’t want to visit. Finally, Saga’s ‘endearing quirkiness’. I agree with that observation until the end of series three, her breakdown and attempt at suicide. After that I think people began to see her in another light and to question whether someone with her vulnerabilities would have got so far in any police force in real life. I believe that’s why Rosenthal and Algren wrote the ending as they did with Saga throwing her police career into the Oresund along with her badge and to the final strains of “everything goes back to the beginning”. Best scenes? Undoubtedly the last 15 minutes of the final episode of Series 2 – Viktoria’s demise in the hotel toilet, Pernille’s suicide, the execution of the protagonist by the (never revealed) ‘Mr Big’ and Saga’s shopping of Martin and his arrest. The first time I watched it I was physically shaking.