On Friday February 22nd, over one million people or about 20 percent of Norway's population settled down with their buckets of popcorn to watch a 12-hour special mini-series! The highlight? Eight exciting hours of a crackling fire!
The show, which Norwegian Public Broadcast producer Rune Moeklebust calls 'slow but noble television' was inspired by local author Lars Mytting's best-selling non-fiction book called - Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood - and the Soul of Wood-Burning.
Totaling 12 hours, it began at prime-time and went all the way through to the wee hours of the morning. Besides the fire, it also featured four hours of conventional programing which included interesting topics like how to burn, slice and stack wood, some music & poetry recitals (probably about wood) and of course, a guest appearance from the wood expert, Lars Mytting!
If you think a show like this was a big dud promptly resulting in putting the audience to sleep, think again - Not only did over 20% of Norway's population stay up to watch 'National Firewood Night' but they also, sent angry text messages - Not about it being a waste of time, but about how the wood in the fireplace was stacked! About 51% were upset that the bark was stacked facing up and the rest, about it being stacked facing down!
Host Rebecca Nedregotten was not surprised. In a country where temperatures can drop to below -30°C, firewood is an important topic! So much so, that before he settled for a 12-hour special, the producer had contemplated making it an ongoing series - Given the tremendous success, we would not be surprised if he does indeed revive that idea!
This is not the first time Norway's Public Broadcast Television has featured an offbeat show. In 2011, they broadcast a 134-hour special in which they followed a cruise ship from Norway to the Arctic and last year, an 8-hour train journey. The former, garnered 3.4 million viewers while the latter was such a runaway success, that it has been broadcast repeatedly a number of times. Don't you wish you lived in Norway?
Resources: newsfeed.time.com, huffingtonpost.com