Skavlan Ends

Starting a show on Norwegian television in 1998, Forst & Sist aired until 2007. In 2011, it was relaunched and rebranded as Skavlan, airing across Scandinavia for 25 series…

Xander Brett

This weekend, veteran host Fredrik Skavlan (who spoke to Fika Online last year) ended his ten-year-old self-titled syndicated talk show. The 25 series, produced by his production company Monkberry, were originally broadcast on NRK (Norway’s national broadcaster) and SVT (Sweden’s national broadcaster), and are now aired by SVT on Friday nights in Sweden, TV2 on Saturdays in Norway and YLE (Finland’s national broadcaster) throughout the week. The series has, through the years, also been aired by DR (Denmark’s national broadcaster) and has a strong following in Iceland. Filmed at Stockholm’s TV-huset, and at temporary studios in London and New York, it has welcomed the hottest names in Scandinavia, defined by more intelligent discussion to the ‘promo’ shows of Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross. Appropriately, in the first episode, the Prime Minister of Sweden Göran Persson was a guest, and the recently appointed Magdalena Andersson was a guest on the final show last week.

Skavlan started his career as a journalist and illustrator at Norway’s Morganbladet newspaper before stints at dailies Aftenposten and Dagbladet led him to be brought in to host a daily Absolutt programme on the newly launched NRK 2. In 1996, he was given his own show on the main channel: Først & Sist (First and Last). After ending that show in 2007, and directing during a two-year hiatus, Swedish television gave him the follow-on self-titled show, Skavlan, that was soon syndicated back and forth to his native Norway via the production company he founded with Marianne Torp Kierulf a year later.

Frequently criticised for his easy-treatment of female guests, and for ‘bullying’ anti-immigration politicians (at one point a Facebook group of over 13,000 was set up to ‘Boycott Skavlan’), Skavlan’s approach and personal life has been much scrutinised. He has been in a relationship with the Norwegian-Swedish actress Maria Bonnevie since 2006 (she was previously a partner of renowned Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt) and his brothers are the Oscar-nominated Petter Skavlan and the author Jørgen Skavlan, while his niece (equally famous in Norway) is Jenny Skavlan: a host and fashion designer.

This Spring, Skavlan took parental leave to look after his sixth child. Former SVT foreign correspondent, Carina Bergfeldt, filled in with her own show. Bergfeldt proved popular, and SVT confirmed she’ll take on Skavlan’s mantel with a permanent show in Sweden, meaning the legacy continues but the pan-Scandinavian partnership (and the global filming) is over. With Sweden’s first female prime minister now in office, there seems to be a general swing towards a more feminine-driven public life. Bergfeldt is a natural (if dull and un-international) revitaliser. So, with multi-million residences in Oslo and Stockholm, and a summer house on the Swedish south coast, Skavlan looks set for a rest, and to continue his cartoon illustrations. Whether he’ll return to broadcasting – and, if so, in what form – is unclear, but with his partner continuing to take on more film work, and with six children to look after, this may spell early retirement for the 55-year-old. His notebook may indeed have been characteristically thrown over his shoulder for the final time.

This article is a Fika Online exclusive.

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