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  • Thank you.

  • I have only got 18 minutes

  • to explain something that lasts for hours and days,

  • so I'd better get started.

  • Let's start with a clip from Al Jazeera's Listening Post.

  • Richard Gizbert: Norway is a country

  • that gets relatively little media coverage.

  • Even the elections this past week passed without much drama.

  • And that's the Norwegian media in a nutshell:

  • not much drama.

  • A few years back,

  • Norway's public TV channel NRK

  • decided to broadcast live coverage of a seven-hour train ride --

  • seven hours of simple footage,

  • a train rolling down the tracks.

  • Norwegians, more than a million of them according to the ratings, loved it.

  • A new kind of reality TV show was born,

  • and it goes against all the rules of TV engagement.

  • There is no story line, no script,

  • no drama, no climax,

  • and it's called Slow TV.

  • For the past two months,

  • Norwegians have been watching a cruise ship's journey up the coast,

  • and there's a lot of fog on that coast.

  • Executives at Norway's National Broadcasting Service

  • are now considering broadcasting a night of knitting nationwide.

  • On the surface, it sounds boring,

  • because it is,

  • but something about this TV experiment

  • has gripped Norwegians.

  • So we sent the Listening Post's Marcela Pizarro to Oslo

  • to find out what it is, but first a warning:

  • Viewers may find some of the images in the following report disappointing.

  • (Laughter)

  • Thomas Hellum: And then follows an eight-minute story on Al Jazeera

  • about some strangeTV programs in little Norway.

  • Al Jazeera. CNN. How did we get there?

  • We have to go back to 2009,

  • when one of my colleagues got a great idea.

  • Where do you get your ideas?

  • In the lunchroom.

  • So he said, why don't we make a radio program

  • marking the day of the German invasion of Norway in 1940.

  • We tell the story at the exact time during the night.

  • Wow. Brilliant idea, except

  • this was just a couple of weeks before the invasion day.

  • So we sat in our lunchroom and discussed

  • what other stories can you tell as they evolve?

  • What other things take a really long time?

  • So one of us came up with a train.

  • The Bergen Railway had its 100-year anniversary that year.

  • It goes from western Norway to eastern Norway,

  • and it takes exactly the same time as it did 40 years ago,

  • over seven hours. (Laughter)

  • So we called our commissioning editors in Oslo, and we said,

  • we want to make a documentary about the Bergen Railway,

  • and we want to make it in full length,

  • and the answer was,

  • "Yes, but how long will the program be?"

  • "Oh," we said, "full length."

  • "Yes, but we mean the program."

  • And back and forth.

  • Luckily for us, they met us with laughter, very, very good laughter,

  • so one bright day in September,

  • we started a program that we thought should be seven hours and four minutes.

  • Actually, it turned out to be seven hours and 14 minutes

  • due to a signal failure at the last station.

  • We had four cameras,

  • three of them pointing out to the beautiful nature.

  • I'm talking to the guests, some information.

  • (Video) Train announcement: We will arrive at Haugastøl Station.

  • TH: And that's about it,

  • but of course, also

  • the 160 tunnels gave us the opportunity to do some archives.

  • Narrator [in Norwegian]: Then a bit of flirting while the food is digested.

  • The last downhill stretch before we reach our destination.

  • We pass Mjølfjell Station.

  • Then a new tunnel.

  • (Laughter)

  • TH: And now we thought, yes, we have a brilliant program.

  • It will fit for the 2,000 train spotters in Norway.

  • We brought it on air in November 2009.

  • But no, this was far more attractive.

  • This is the five biggest TV channels in Norway on a normal Friday,

  • and if you look at NRK2 over here,

  • look what happened when they put on the Bergen Railway show:

  • 1.2 million Norwegians watched part of this program.

  • (Applause)

  • And another funny thing:

  • when the host on our main channel,

  • after they have good news for you,

  • she said, "And on our second channel,

  • the train has now nearly reached Myrdal station."

  • Thousands of people just jumped on the train

  • on our second channel like this. (Laughter)

  • This was also a huge success in terms of social media.

  • Actually, for me, it was the first big social media experience.

  • It was so nice to see all the thousands of Facebook and Twitter users

  • discussing the same view,

  • talking to each other as if they were on the same train together.

  • And especially, I like this one. It's a 76-year-old man.

  • He's watched all the program,

  • and at the end station, he rises up to pick up what he thinks is his luggage,

  • and his head hit the curtain rod,

  • and he realized he is in his own living room.

  • (Applause)

  • So that's strong and living TV.

  • Four hundred and thirty-six minute by minute on a Friday night,

  • and during that first night,

  • the first Twitter message came: Why be a chicken?

  • Why stop at 436 when you can expand that

  • to 8,040, minute by minute,

  • and do the iconic journey in Norway,

  • the coastal ship journey Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes,

  • almost 3,000 kilometers, covering most of our coast.

  • It has 120-year-old, very interesting history,

  • and literally takes part in life and death along the coast.

  • So just a week after the Bergen Railway,

  • we called the Hurtigruten company and we started planning for our next show.

  • We wanted to do something different.

  • The Bergen Railway was a recorded program.

  • So when we sat in our editing room,

  • we watched this picture -- it's all Ål Station --

  • we saw this journalist.

  • We had called him, we had spoken to him,

  • and when we left the station,

  • he took this picture of us and he waved to the camera,

  • and we thought,

  • what if more people knew that we were on board that train?

  • Would more people show up?

  • What would it look like?

  • So we decided our next project, it should be live.

  • We wanted this picture of us on the fjord and on the screen at the same time.

  • So this is not the first time NRK had been on board a ship.

  • This is back in 1964,

  • when the technical managers have suits and ties

  • and NRK rolled all its equipment on board a ship,

  • and 200 meters out of the shore, transmitting the signal back,

  • and in the machine room, they talked to the machine guy,

  • and on the deck, they have splendid entertainment.

  • So being on a ship, it's not the first time.

  • But five and a half days in a row, and live, we wanted some help.

  • And we asked our viewers out there, what do you want to see?

  • What do you want us to film? How do you want this to look?

  • Do you want us to make a website? What do you want on it?

  • And we got some answers from you out there,

  • and it helped us a very lot to build the program.

  • So in June 2011,

  • 23 of us went on board the Hurtigruten coastal ship

  • and we set off.

  • (Music)

  • I have some really strong memories from that week, and it's all about people.

  • This guy, for instance,

  • he's head of research at the University in Tromsø.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I will show you a piece of cloth,

  • this one.

  • It's the other strong memory.

  • It belongs to a guy called Erik Hansen.

  • And it's people like those two who took a firm grip of our program,

  • and together with thousands of others along the route,

  • they made the program what it became.

  • They made all the stories.

  • This is Karl. He's in the ninth grade.

  • It says, "I will be a little late for school tomorrow."

  • He was supposed to be in the school at 8 a.m.

  • He came at 9 a.m., and he didn't get a note from his teacher,

  • because the teacher had watched the program.

  • (Laughter)

  • How did we do this?

  • Yes, we took a conference room on board the Hurtigruten.

  • We turned it into a complete TV control room.

  • We made it all work, of course,

  • and then we took along 11 cameras.

  • This is one of them.

  • This is my sketch from February,

  • and when you give this sketch to professional people

  • in the Norwegian broadcasting company NRK,

  • you get some cool stuff back.

  • And with some very creative solutions.

  • (Video) Narrator [in Norwegian]: Run it up and down.

  • This is Norway's most important drill right now.

  • It regulates the height of a bow camera in NRK's live production,

  • one of 11 that capture great shots from the MS Nord-Norge.

  • Eight wires keep the camera stable.

  • Cameraman: I work on different camera solutions.

  • They're just tools used in a different context.

  • TH: Another camera is this one. It's normally used for sports.

  • It made it possible for us to take close-up pictures of people

  • 100 kilomteres away,

  • like this one. (Laughter)

  • People called us and asked, how is this man doing?

  • He's doing fine. Everything went well.

  • We also could take pictures of people waving at us,

  • people along the route, thousands of them,

  • and they all had a phone in their hand.

  • And when you take a picture of them, and they get the message,

  • "Now we are on TV, dad," they start waving back.

  • This was waving TV for five and a half days,

  • and people get so extremely happy

  • when they can send a warm message to their loved ones.

  • It was also a great success on social media.

  • On the last day, we met Her Majesty the Queen of Norway,

  • and Twitter couldn't quite handle it.

  • And we also, on the web,

  • during this week we streamed more than 100 years of video

  • to 148 nations,

  • and the websites are still there and they will be forever, actually,

  • because Hurtigruten was selected

  • to be part of the Norwegian UNESCO list of documents,

  • and it's also in the Guinness Book of Records

  • as the longest documentary ever.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • But it's a long program,

  • so some watched part of it, like the Prime Minister.

  • Some watched a little bit more.

  • It says, "I haven't used my bed for five days."

  • And he's 82 years old, and he hardly slept.

  • He kept watching because something might happen,

  • though it probably won't. (Laughter)

  • This is the number of viewers along the route.

  • You can see the famous Trollfjord

  • and a day after, all-time high for NRK2.

  • If you see the four biggest channels in Norway during June 2011,

  • they will look like this,

  • and as a TV producer, it's a pleasure to put Hurtigruten on top of it.

  • It looks like this:

  • 3.2 million Norwegians watched part of this program,

  • and we are only five million here.

  • Even the passengers on board the Hurtigruten coastal ship --

  • (Laughter) --

  • they chose to watch the telly instead of turning 90 degrees

  • and watching out the window.

  • So we were allowed to be part of people's living room

  • with this strange TV program,

  • with music, nature, people.

  • And Slow TV was now a buzzword,

  • and we started looking for other things we could make Slow TV about.

  • So we could either take something long and make it a topic,

  • like with the railway and the Hurtigruten,

  • or we could take a topic and make it long.

  • This is the last project. It's the peep show.

  • It's 14 hours of birdwatching on a TV screen,

  • actually 87 days on the web.

  • We have made 18 hours of live salmon fishing.