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John Lamb, Published November 05 2013

Lamb: Norway’s knit-for-primetime programming a ratings sleeper

The Minnesota Vikings aren’t giving area Scandinavians much to cheer about these days.

Maybe it’s time to look back to the old country for a source of televised pride.

No, I’m not talking about a new season of the History channel’s bloody drama, “Vikings.” If you haven’t seen it, think “Game of Thrones” without all the sex and dialogue, which just gets in the way of head-splitting.

It’s time for Midwesterners to embrace a kinder, gentler pastime; knitting. Or rather, watching people knit. For hours.

On Friday night a Norwegian TV station aired more than eight hours of knitting.

The Network, NRK, has a devious game plan to attract young viewers to “Slow TV,” otherwise known as really long, uneventful programming. Earlier this year, the station aired an eight-hour tribute to kindling, “National Firewood Night,” which consisted largely of logs burning in a fireplace.

Too hot for TV? You betcha.

“National Firewood Night” followed a minute-by-minute footage from the front of a train on an eight-hour cross-country journey. The only young viewers I could think of that would watch that would be so stoned it would be a very bad trip.

Friday’s knit-for-primetime lineup included an attempt to break the world record for knitting a sweater, from sheering the sheep to spinning the wool to the final stitch.

Competitive knitting. Who knew?

So how did the Norwegeniuses in programming sex the show up in pitches? Did they play the “reality TV” card and have rival families with catty wives pull together to bring the wooly trophy back to Norway? Did they have stars from the show “Vikings” sheer the sheep with their axes and attempt the knitting without their beards getting stuck in the stitches? Did the camera cut away to an exhausted and aged A-ha playing “Take on Me” over and over for eight hours?

Nope. NRK executive Rune Moklebust described it as, “long, quiet sequences of knitting and spinning.”

And presumably drinking coffee while silently judging others.

It’s not quite “Friday Night Lights.” More like Friday night LT. You know, left twist, when you cross one stitch over the other. See how fascinating this is?

In the end, the Norwegian knitters could not best the Australian record of 4 hours and 51 minutes.

Before Scandihoovians get too down about another Norse team that can’t win, consider this: Friday’s show attracted 1.3 million viewers, more than a quarter of Norway’s 5.5 million residents.

So a quarter of a country tuned in, saw their team lose and there were no calls on Monday morning radio to have someone fired.

I’ll drink a cup of coffee to that. But I’ll still be quietly judgy.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533