Denmark's 'naked lady' TV show causes furore

Thomas Blachman and a guest from his Blachman Show Thomas Blachman (left) says his show is a tribute to women

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A year ago I visited the headquarters of the Danish public broadcaster DR to film a piece about the international success of their dramas Borgen and the Killing.

The two protagonists in those series were strong, feisty females who took no nonsense from anyone.

So it seems a little surreal to be back in Denmark now to talk to the same broadcasting company about their new show, called Blachman, in which a woman is required to stand naked in front of fully-clothed men and to remain silent as those men talk about her body.

"It's not reality TV!" protests the show's inventor and host, Thomas Blachman. "And it's poetry, not porn."

Yet it makes uncomfortable viewing. Blachman, shirt carefully unbuttoned, sits with a fashion designer friend of his and stares at a woman's pubic hair.

"I'm not really keen on shaving and waxing," he comments, before remarking to his co-host that the woman has nice feet.

The woman, paid around 250 euros (£214) for her appearance, just stands there and takes it.

"Oh come on!" says Blachman, when I say I find this deeply unnerving.

"Women talk all the time - this show is about letting men say what they think about women's bodies."

'Sexist rubbish'

Blachman believes that in modern Denmark, where there are strict equal opportunities laws, men have become emasculated by powerful women and silenced under a cloak of political correctness.

"Women's bodies thirst for men's words!" he insists. "We have had so much bad reaction from aggressive feminists and I didn't see it coming... Sure I wanted to provoke a little bit, but it's not sexist."

Scene from DR2's Blachman show

When I meet Nina - an attractive, bubbly primary school teacher who was one of Blachman's naked studies - she tells me she felt empowered by her appearance on the show.

Although she admits she would have liked to have been able to speak, particularly when Blachman and his guest were discussing her Caesarean scar.

Following the broadcast, Nina has not only had scores of fan mail letters, she has also had five marriage proposals.

But feminists - like Danish comedian Sanne Sondergaard - are outraged.

"In Denmark, sexism is not an issue," she says. "And then this show came along. It's sexist rubbish.

"I'm sorry but even if he says nice things, a man is not entitled to comment on my body, just because I'm a woman!"

'Creating debate'

DR2 has had more complaints about the Blachman show than any other. It has also had a huge number of viewings, particularly on its "watch again" internet site.

Sofia Fromberg, the commissioning editor of the programme, insists she is not chasing ratings with breasts and bottoms.

Nina, who has appeared on the show Nina says she has had five marriage proposals since appearing on the show

"Blachman certainly did not have the highest ratings of any of our shows. DR2's objective is to create debate about important issues in society. And it has created a lot of debate!" she says.

Thomas Blachman has been accused in the Danish media of being little more than a "sleazy middle aged man in a strip club". But, for much of the programme he seems ill at ease and a little awkward. His focus tends to be tamely set below the knees rather than on the more predictable breasts and bottoms.

"Nice ankles - I'm an ankles kind of a guy" he says. Before making a single remark about the nude female in front of him, one of his co-hosts takes a good five minutes to explain that he had been happily married for 50 years until his wife died last year - at such times, the silent naked woman in front of them almost seems forgotten and irrelevant.

I Want Your Baby!

But there is no hiding the fact that the more outrageous the show, the more it pulls in viewers.

Last week during a segment on breastfeeding, the host of the Dutch Saturday night show, Langs de Leeuw, suggested he would like to try breast milk.

An audience member offered him some milk she had expressed but host Paul de Leeuw told her he would rather take it from its source and suckled both her breasts on live TV.

A huge social media row followed quickly, although the network did point out that the act had not been sexual.

A few years ago I made a film on another controversial Dutch programme called I Want Your Baby!

A single woman who wanted a child, was allowed to select the father of her baby from a group of eligible men, voting off the weakest links each week. That show caused uproar in the Netherlands and prompted questions in parliament - it never got beyond the pilot.

Sanne Sondergaard Feminist Sanne Sondergaard says she is outraged by the Danish show

Last month, reality TV in France was plunged into some deep soul-searching over its future after a contestant died on the tough desert island challenge Koh Lanta and the doctor - who was unable to save him - killed himself.

Poor ratings caused Italy's state broadcaster RAI to scrap all its TV reality shows back in 2007. RAI said it would put the money it saved into Italian-made films and more intellectual programmes.

Now its new female director has called time on sexily dressed showgirls and game-show assistants on screen, claiming she wants to project a more sophisticated image of women on the network - one where women are more than cosmetically perfect airheads.

For any viewer missing the hitherto ubiquitous bimbo though, she does remain intact on scores of programmes broadcast on the private channels owned by the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Back in Denmark, Blachman points out that he never judged or criticised the naked woman's body.

"It's a show, which actually is a tribute to women," he says.

Unfortunately for him, his "tribute" has not been re-commissioned.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Well it's nice to know that some people are aware of how pathetic and emasculated Men of this generation are becoming, mostly thanks to Feminism and it being forced on us by the same mass media who brought us multi-culturalism and all the benefits (read: high crime rate, lack of integration; segregation) that come with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Men are wired in a more basic way than women (i.e. a big leaning to visual stimulation). Combine this with the feminisation of women from youth, the whole industry around enhancing women's attractiveness, the desire women have to be attractive (not just to men), and man's obsession with beauty, and you have the perfect storm. This is just TV - which we forget is an entirely optional subscription.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I'm afraid feminism is going the way of health and safety. Too much PC devalues what really matters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I'm not Danish, dont live in Denmark, haven't seen the show ... and would be hard to form an accurate opinion.

    Put in the other way, if it was 2 woman commenting on a naked man, would that be different? Is easy to aim the term 'sexist' purely at men, when women are just the same.

    What would the reaction be if if was 2 women looking at the naked women and not two men? The same? I doubt it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Pity this show isn't on in the UK. Even if it is dull and boring it would be far more entertaining than some of the utter garbage the BBC swallows up my licence fee for like EastEnders for example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Aside: Israel is a major hub of human trafficking and prostitution

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Sounds like nutty nordic stuff, feminism is dominated by lesbians, what that means for males is fairly obvious these day's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I like the chair. is it a Hans Wegner?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    If you can get past your socially conditioned intial reaction to this, there's actually an oportunity for women to see what other people really think of a persons imperfections without the fake responses that women often give to eachother.
    In a way it has the potential to perhaps impact on some of the eating disorders that are now so common thanks the the media driven image of the ideal body.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Society is in terminal decline, anything goes,with increasing unemployment, people turn to sex to keep themselves occupied.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Poetry, soft porn, whatever! I won't be wasting my time watching such rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    The premise of the show sounds stupid to me personally, but if you don't like it, change the channel or turn the TV off!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Why don't they just arrest the person with the gun that is forcing these women to appear on the show?

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    This story reminds me of there being one rule for men and another rule for women. E.g. man talks dirty to a woman = sexual harassment. Woman talks dirty to a man = £1.50 per minute.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    It's creepy.

    Getting women to stand there and be looked over by old men like a bit of meat I don't know what the appeal is.

    It's pure objectification of women, especially not being allowed to speak.

    If it was a mixed panel of men and women and they assessed both male and female forms it would not be sexist but as it stands I think it is.

    This program just seems irresponsible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    47. Medea Fleecestealer
    Peter_Sym I agree entirely. Chuck the whole lot out and give us some proper entertainment.
    Thanks! My wife loves this sort of trash (hence my encyclopedic knowledge) many of these shows are no better than victorian fair ground freak shows with the obese as the 'freak' to be laughed at. Pretty repellent all round.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    42. Francophile -Nothing stopping producers from putting on a show where women look at mens bodies, women pay to see male strippers. Just as men pay to see women naked, its called human nature. We like looking at each others bits, whether your gay or straight. It is exploitation when someone is forced to do something they dont want to, thats the difference. No one is forcing these women or men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    At least the guys appear to be showing appreciation of the female form.

    If the judges were women you can bet they'd do nothing but judge and criticize - leaving the model with a much lower feeling of self worth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Thank you BBC!!
    I am a British woman living in Denmark with a very limited grasp of Danish. For the last 3 months I have been completely confused as to why two middle aged men were talking at one naked middle aged woman for half an hour on TV. I assumed it was some sort of art show. Mystery solved!
    P.S. The show is not very entertaining,but useful for learning body parts in Danish :)


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