It’s not surprising that most of us have not heard about Slow TV. Although it has come into a trend just recently, it was pioneered way back in 2009 by a couple of Norwegians. While it was an instant smash-hit in Norway, it was not the case with the Americans. It failed big time.
So, what is slow TV? Why is it gaining so much hype lately? It is a set of slow, monotonous and utterly boring documentaries that go on and on for hours and sometimes even days. It includes minute by minute footage of an event, festival or just a regular activity.
The geniuses who developed the slow TV are Rune Moklebust and Thomas Hellum. They admitted that it was a spur of the moment thing, a thought that popped into their minds after a late-night round of beers. Much to their surprise, they got the go-ahead signal from their bosses. Well, you know the rest.
Slow TV was officially born when the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) first aired an episode of a seven-hour long train journey between the coastal city of Bergen and the capital Oslo. There is no script, no hosts, no plot, no narration, no breaking news, and thank the Good Lord, no commercial breaks. Other than the occasional music, the programmes widely consist of raw, unedited footage that lasts as long as real-time. Multiple cameras are used to provide many different perspectives. Unedited life was not something you see very often.
After the success of the train journey, several videos with entertaining new ideas were broadcasted. People knitting, reindeer herding, fire crackling, people unpacking, a professor lecturing, sheep grazing, a stroll through the forest, a ship voyage, a bus strip are some of the shows that got a quarter of the Norwegian population to tune into the channel. Every time the producers try to come up with a new idea to keep the people hooked.
Boring is the new interesting. The shows are supposed to be boring with some exciting moments in between, much like our lives. We have come to accept that television should be acceleration and fast-paced. But they are not so; this was proved by the arrival of the slow TV. It was like a fresh breath of air. Weird and unconventional but refreshing. It was not like the regular programmes either. To stand out from the other shows, it aired only on special occasions.
Why are so many people drawn to these sensational and one of a kind shows? Well, the answer lies within itself. They are not used to these sort of programmes. They watch it for the first time and realise that behind every video lies a story. The tranquillity of the videos allows them to unwind and relax for a few hours. This is a luxury that not everyone can afford.
Every minute of our lives should be savoured and not fast-forwarded. The serene nature of slow TV allows us to contemplate and provides room for interpretation. We can play slow TV to act as the backdrop in our lives that takes the form conjured up in our minds.
In a world so caught up in the rat race, a few hours of slow TV offers us a moment of peace that we desperately chase after.