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The Bridge: Writing my favourite scenes

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Saga Norén, Länskrim, Malmö and Martin Rohde, Köpenhamnspoliti.

I have had them in my life since 2006, when we started working on The Bridge.

The assignment from our producers was to:
1. Create a show that was equally set in Denmark and Sweden.
And
2. It had to be a thriller.
That meant detectives. From two countries.

In real life Swedes and Danes can understand each other, but we don't understand each other as well they do in the show.

The co-creators and I decided early in the process not to make anything of it. So every Dane speaks Danish and every Swede speaks Swedish.

The first thing we did was figure out how to get the detectives together on a case.

Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) and Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) investigate a murder on Øresund Bridge

So we put a body exactly on the border. On the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö. Then they had to come out from both countries.

But who were “they”?

We created Martin first because we knew we wanted to work with Kim Bodnia. (We didn't know if he wanted to work with us but we were going to try.)

Kim meant a white, middle-aged, male detective. We've had quite a few of them in Sweden.

Most of them divorced, with bad or no contact with their ex-wives and children, not very talkative, keeping most of their emotions inside, staring into the dark, drinking too much and listening to opera or jazz.

So we wanted something else. Someone else.

We wanted an open and empathic character with a big loving family.

Someone who enjoyed making small-talk, who was curious about his colleagues and close to his emotions. So that was Martin.

But who to bring in from Sweden? I had an idea. What if the Swedish detective was a woman with absolutely no social skills?

Catching up: Saga and Martin are friends but don't speak until another case brings them together

Everything she can read, she'll learn, but when it comes to interaction with another person, she's totally lost.

That was pretty much all we said about Saga Norén (beautifully played by Sofia Helin).

Now, the media and the audience have decided that she has Asperger’s, but we've actually never diagnosed her in the show.

I understood and loved Saga from day one. That was not the case for everybody. Broadcasters, directors and even Sofia were a little worried.

“Are we really going to like her?” It turned out we were.

Very early, when we saw the first dailies (raw unedited footage) we understood that we had something special going on in Saga and Martin’s relationship and what worked really well was a scene in Saga’s car where they didn't discuss the case.

In fact, it worked so well that we decided that there should be at least one of those in every episode.

Saga and Martin, on their own, not talking about the case but personal stuff.

Martin gets quizzed about his sex life by Saga

Now we refer to them as car/elevator scenes and they're my favourites to write, not only because they give me the opportunity to develop the characters more, they also provide some humour to the show.

And that is important. The Bridge is a dark and brutal story with quite a body count and you need to smile a little now and then to balance that.

With Saga and her personality I don't have to write “jokes”, I just let her ask about the things she wants to know and/or have Martin trying to educate her in social behaviour.

Or let her be brutally blunt to other human beings.

Saga and Martin’s characters and relationship are a huge factor in the success of The Bridge. I love them and since we're currently writing season three I will have the privilege to stay with them for at least another year.

Hans Rosenfeldt is the writer and co-creator of The Bridge.

The Bridge continues on Saturday, 25 January at 9pm on BBC Four. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

More on The Bridge
BBC TV blog: Live web chat with Hans Rosenfeldt
BBC Breakfast: Watch an interview with Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 110. Posted by Humdinger

    on 23 Mar 2014 20:52

    I agree with all of the positive and intelligent comments above. I am glad I was recommended this show as I am engrossed and engaged in watching it.

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  • Comment number 109. Posted by Lewis Graham

    on 8 Mar 2014 11:02

    Just marvellous! I think Saga would be hard work to work with but, at the same time, you'd know she is a good person doing the right thing.

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  • Comment number 108. Posted by stephy

    on 27 Feb 2014 08:35

    I will be in China soon. To be specific, I'll be in yangshuo china, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0W7ES80b5s . Actually, there are quite a lot of British people in China now. Will you consider to add a Chinese actress to market to the China market as well ?

    e.g ' But who to bring in from Sweden? I had an idea. What if the Swedish detective was a woman with absolutely no social skills? '
    A Chinese in sweden ? what do you think ? :)

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  • Comment number 107. Posted by Wigggle

    on 19 Feb 2014 21:10

    Some friends recommended The Bridge and so I downloaded Series 2 Episodes 1-7 to my IPad. Having found time to watch these, I am very keen to view Episodes 8-10 and sadly they are not available to download!! When will it be possible to do this as I would love to see the conclusion?

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  • Comment number 106. Posted by Scoob65

    on 18 Feb 2014 00:52

    Very good series! It will be difficult to get Martin back without losing a huge amount of credibility, as they wouldn't arrest a fellow detective without a lot of hard evidence, if they did, then again you lose all credibility. I don't see any scenario where Martin can come back, realistically, without losing credibility and that would damage the show.

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  • Comment number 105. Posted by Naza

    on 17 Feb 2014 12:18

    Thank you,Hans Rosenfeldt!!!Love Love Bron/Broen.....

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  • Comment number 104. Posted by cwd

    on 14 Feb 2014 10:29

    Hi,
    Yes, I love both series and find the build up gripping and with a believable script, and Martins understanding of Saga's oddness just balances out that she is an excellent detective. I think also for us in the UK there is a very stylish feel to the nordic scenery, which can be stark and minimalist and this adds to the edgyness of the series. When is series 3 on it's way!

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  • Comment number 103. Posted by John Thompson

    on 10 Feb 2014 11:43

    The whole series was brilliant and sustained up to the last two episodes.Saga(Helin)does not specifically have Aspergers.Helin said she looked at Aspergers just to help her shape a person with poor social skills,whose logic is impeccable.We’ve all met them,they somehow think they can be as rude to you as possible as long as they use logic.If you try to tell them that you find their behaviour aggressive,blindly scattershot they think you’ve got a screw loose.Secondly, Helin has a very Bergmanesque quality of beauty,she wouldn’t be out of place in a Bergman film( a Bibi Anderson or Liv Ullman type of role). Her and Kim(Martin) could almost act as well in a silent film using mime.The subtitles do help and you’re almost not aware you’re reading them,
    so good are the two actors,that their relationship is almost more important than the story,the crime they’re trying to investigate.There could be plot holes and you wouldn’t notice.So Joe public,please stop looking for what medication she’s on or what type of Aspergers she’s got,or why is she not portraying it properly.Also,people going on about the poor translation into American English,stop,if a Danish policeman and a Swedish detective can understand each other…..By the way Kim said that people from southern Sweden can understand Danish and vice versa.But northen Swedes have to have subtitles.Its been said that Danes(and Swedes) like the dark side,yet its been stated they ‘re the happiest people on the planet,because they can look into the dark side without fear.There’s so much more equality in Denmark and they pay their taxes without complaining,the whole society is more relaxed with each other,and they’re trying to do something about climate change.One windmill can power the energy needs of 650 homes a year.

    Incidentally I think good music for the series would be E.S.T.,the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, the brilliant jazz/rock fusion of ferocity and menace and interplay between bass,drums and piano, with great moments of tenderness.I think Hans said series two was meant to have closure,the man who shot Gertrude was out of focus because it’s not important who shot her,that’s why they shot it that way.Kim made the point that he thinks the British like the series because they dig deeper into subjects in Denmark and Sweden,they’re able explore plots in more depth.Also the environments are so stripped down,we only concentrate on essentials.The bleak Nordic light,gloom.Ah,just to breath it in.What I'd like to add is that this series is so well shot.acted,
    written that its got a higher quality than any written work.Unlike The Killing,Borgen,it's not based upon a prewritten book.No book could equal the deep pleasure it gave.

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  • Comment number 102. Posted by LizHay

    on 8 Feb 2014 23:56

    'Salamander' on BBC Four starting this Saturday (8 February) for 12 episodes; and on iPlayer until 22 February; certainly helped fill the void left by 'The Bridge' being off-air until at least September next year. The Flemish and French speaking + subtitles seemed to make it easier to comprehend the language of this political thriller series. Well acted and intriguing, but so far lacking the sparkle of ScandiDrama such as 'The Bridge'. What do others think?

    'Borgen' enthusiasts may enjoy the storyline, with a gang stealing from a private bank vault 66 safety deposit boxes, taking jewels, cash...and documents (for blackmail, perhaps?) The box owners are all prominent people in Belgium. A determined policeman is in pursuit. He is very different to Martin of 'The Bridge'. They may both have hair of a 'silver fox', but Geradi of 'Salamander' is a lone ranger, overcoming dastardly deeds engineered by the heirachy who have him under surveillance, because it seems they too had secrets stolen...!

    'The Bridge', here at Post 94 has 'tangomama' giving helpful insight about Saga's possible Asperger's or indeed result of unsuitable nurturing during childhood. Fascinating to know Saga's lack of anxiety in policing may possibly be medicated. Could the Bridge writer be leaving this to imagination with the substance Saga has a habit of chewing, like snuff, I think Hans Rosenfeldt mentioned in his live blog on 1+2 February.

    Link to that (+ 700 comments, so far) from the base of this page, where it states "The Bridge: Live web chat with Hans Rosenfeldt".

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  • Comment number 101. Posted by oakcourt

    on 8 Feb 2014 19:13

    I didn't dislike the first series but not overwhelmed by it either but I love the European dramas the BBC have given us so decided to watch again. This second series was superb and even provided a few laughs (Saga and Martin's penis size talk). I liked the fact that I was never really sure who would turn out to really be Mother of Three very suspenseful. That was some ending also.

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