'The Killing's' Sofie Grabol Thinks Cutting Romance, Sex From Show Is the Secret of Its Success

Sofie Grabol

The actress in the original Danish drama series says script was moving in that direction, but she debated against it with the writers "in a very heated meeting."

EDINBURGH – It was the unlikely critical success that story that traveled the world; the tense, low-key Danish-language thriller The Killing that became the cult favorite of TV executives in the UK and US, and was later remade for AMC.

Now, actress Sofie Grabol, who played fiercely unsentimental murder detective Sarah Lund in the original version, says TV executives are at risk of being so scared of boring the audience that they add too many “junk food” plot lines.

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Speaking at a panel at the Edinburgh International Television Festival about the Danish version of the show alongside producer, Piv Bernth of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Grabol said that she had opposed plans to spin a romantic story line around the character of Sarah Lund, fearing that it would make the character too ordinary.

 “They were writing in that direction, and I remember we debated it very heated meeting with the writers,” she said.

“I felt very strongly that I didn’t want her to be defined by the men around her. There’s a beauty about defining this person by the lack of men in her life,” Grabol added.

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“In this story you don’t give people the junk food – the sex scenes, the car chases, the love stories. You keep them out of it. The more you hold back, the more active the audience’s imagination becomes.”

The 22-episode series became a surprise hit after being picked up by the BBC’s arts-focused digital channel BBC4, and the audience grew by word of mouth, rapidly becoming critical success that TV executives loved to praise.

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BBC 1 controller Danny Cohen, former Talkback Thames chief executive Lorraine Heggessey and BBC director general Mark Thompson were just a few of the media chattering class to come out as fans of the show.

Acquired by the BBC channel for paltry $7000 an episode, it delivered more than 500,000 viewers an episode, a major audience for the drama and arts channel and almost unheard-of for a foreign drama that ran with subtitles.

The show’s suspense and character exploration come from a tradition commissioning long running series by the Danish broadcaster, said executive producer Piv Bernth.

Series 2 will be debuted on the BBC later this year and filming of a third series has begun,