The World’s Most Boring TV … and Why It’s Hilariously Addictive – Thomas Hellum – TED Talk (2014)

The idea of “slow-TV” was there. For years live cameras have been showing bears hunt fish in rivers, birds nesting and rearing their chicks with viewers in the millions. A Discovery Channel series called “Earth Sunrise” recorded a full hour of realtime sunrise in spectacular locations from around the world. Recording of a total solar eclipse in Brazil and Turkey was quite a memorable event. Slow-TV concept is a paradigm invented by real-time nature observers. The Norwegian television producer Thomas Hellum pushes the slow TV idea into bigger events with interactive audience.

After the success of the 7 hour uninterrupted broadcasting of the Oslo-Bergen train line project in 2011, NRK decided to carry slow-TV concept into larger, longer and live interactive projects. NRK decided to make another full-length documentary on board a passenger ship (MS Nordnorge) belonging to the fleet of Hurtigruten ship company that has been operating along the Norvegian coast since 1893. The program is currently holding the world record of 134 hours spanning 5 days of “midnight sun” cruising. The following is a condensed 37 minute version of the full-length documentary from only one view of the many cameras used throughout the programming.

Slow TV has proved itself in Norway with multiple occasions. One of them was the live broadcast of the matches by the Norvegian chess master Magnus Carlsen who battled it out with Viswanathan Anand in 2014 Championship. The Norvegian state channel NRK broadcasted every single minute of the championship with extensive commentary. The viewing figures were unprecedented with more than 450,000 viewers (out of a population of five million) tuned in for a five-hour program on a Tuesday afternoon. The official hashtag #nrksjakk was the number one trending topic on Twitter in Norway every match day.

Thomas Hellum has worked at NRK Hordaland since 1992. He started as a lighting designer and moved into photography. After, he began to work as a documentary producer. In 2009, he became one of the driving forces behind the “Slow-TV” movement, filming and broadcasting challengingly long duration events live and turning them into a television program.

In 2008, Hellum won the Grand Prix Golden Prague at the International Television Festival in Prague for the documentary Ballad for Edvard Grieg, which tracked the composer’s travels through Europe. He also won the Rose d’Or Award for The Sound of Ole Bull at the Rose d’Or Festival in Lucerne in 2012.

Thomas Hellum, minutt for minutt from Mats on Vimeo.



  1. Belinda says:

    Just saw your wonderful TED talk and it enthralled me given disability can’t travel, live in Oz, and would love to watch the ship journey on and off obviously, but can’t find the full download anywhere……any ideas?
    Thanks and what a fascinating, marvellous idea for folks like me,

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