BBC Picks Up Steven Van Zandt Drama ‘Lilyhammer’

Steven Van Zandt Snowflower Premiere - P 2011
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Steven Van Zandt Snowflower Premiere - P 2011

The Norwegian-language comedy drama features the “Sopranos” actor as a gangster in the witness protection program.


LONDON – The BBC has picked up the Steven Van Zandt Norwegian-language crime drama Lilyhammer which will air on its digital channel BBC 4. The drama tells the fish-out-of water-story of a New York mobster who asks to be relocated to the sleepy Norwegian town Lilehammer that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics.

The series has already sold exclusively to Netflix in the U.S. and will now air in the U.K. on the same BBC network that launched The Killing to an international audience.

BBC4 has proved something of a pioneer at importing foreign-language drama to the U.K., and building up a cult demand for shows that would otherwise perhaps not be seen outside their native market. The BBC is currently airing Norwegian political drama Borgen, a follow-up from the producers of The Killing.

"Lilyhammer mixes sharp wit and American big city ways with the beauty of the Norwegian mountains and folksy nature of a small town - a perfect combination for a razor-sharp drama about cultural mores,” said Richard Klein, controller of BBC Four. “I am delighted the BBC Four has acquired this drama and I am sure our viewers are going to have a good time!"

Sue Deeks, BBC´s head of Program Acquisition adds "Lilyhammer is fresh, funny and offbeat - it makes a highly original addition to BBC Four's rich Scandinavian drama slate."

Lilyhammer launched Jan. 25 on Norway’s public broadcaster NRK1. One in five Norwegians watched the series premiere, reaching an overall share of 56.3 percent and resulting in an all-time-high for NRK1 and the best ratings for a Norwegian made drama-series ever.

With 44.2 percent in the commercial demographics, Lilyhammer outperformed the channel average by 245 percent. The second episode performed even stronger with 46,5 percent in the commercial demographics.

Viewers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America will be able to watch the dramedy on Netflix starting Feb. 6. Netflix will be co-producer of the second season, alongside Norwegian producer Rubicon.