Saturday, February 23, 2013

Firewood Program Sets Viewers Hearts Ablaze

The Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) has been taking reality TV to a new level lately. First there was 2009's wildly successful 7-hour program of the spectacular Oslo-Bergen train route. Then came a 2011 live broadcast of Norway's 120-year-old coastal cruise line. Hurtigruten—Minutt for Minutt held the country's attention—along with much of the rest of the world—for a whopping 134 hours.

Now NRK is breaking new ground by bringing us back to hearth and home. The latest show that everyone seems to be talking about—from the New York Times to Stephen Colbert—is Nasjonal Vedkveld, or "National Firewood Night." Nearly a million people, or 20 percent of Norway's population, tuned in for the 12-hour broadcast dedicated to the subject of firewood. The broadcast, which aired Feb. 15, included 4 hours of regular programming and 8 hours of a fire burning in the fireplace of a Bergen farmhouse.

The series was inspired by the book, “Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood—and the Soul of Wood-Burning” by Lars Mytting, which spent more than a year on the non-fiction best-sellers list in Norway.

While there was heated debate among viewers via Twitter about the art and science of splitting, drying and stacking wood, they did seem to reach consensus on one thing: This show would only be produced in Norway, for Norwegians.

Wondering how to dress for a day of Norwegian woodsplitting? Stay tuned for the Norwegian art of dressing for the outdoors in the April issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of NRK.

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