When I began working for SBS one of the first things I learned from my mentors was that one can't please viewers all the time. For example if you were to film a documentary about a country there is no way you could squeeze every aspect of that (or any other) country into a 60-minute program.
Imagine then trying to cover a place like Scandinavia in the 25-minute Global Village? Well, here it is. Scandinavia is effectively four countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) and the Scandinavian Peninsula is also the largest peninsula in Europe.
Naturally it would be difficult to do justice to everything there is to see and learn about Scandinavia in such a short space of time. But, that's television. And with the beautiful aerial photography of this series, which deals with the coastlines of Europe, it is a delight to sit back and take in its visual offerings.
We journey from north to south in the land of the Vikings. Like the Dutch who discovered Australia way before the English claimed it as their own, so too we learn that Viking seafarers discovered America 500 years before Christopher Columbus claimed it for Spain, in long ships much smaller than his Santa Maria carrack.
Scandinavia is a land covered in snow and ice, a land of a thousand lakes and vast forests. We start off at the northern tip of Europe, in Norway, a thousand kilometres north of Oslo, well above the Arctic Circle and just below North Cape. The camera then heads off on the same latitude as Alaska and Greenland towards the VesterĂ¥len Islands which enjoy the warm flow of the Gulf Stream. It also churns up a rich soup of plankton, which attracts a lot of fish such as cod, haddock, herring and coalfish. Look in your supermarket refrigerated area and you'll find a range of seafood products from Scandinavia.
Despite the international moratorium Norwegians still hunt whales. Summer is fishing season and you don't get much sleep between May and October in the land of the Midnight Sun. Near the city of Bodo (pron: Boo-da) is the maelstrom. The current runs at twenty knots and is a sailor's nightmare.
Around seven minutes into the program we come upon some magnificent waterfalls (seen in the short preview here) with the accompanying information: According to the latest study by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, one thousand and six hundred Norwegian glaciers could melt in the next hundred years due to global warming. I can just hear the 'global warming' sceptics out there gnashing their teeth over this one. By the way the long aerial shot of these waterfalls is particularly splendiferous!
We briefly fly over Norway's capital, Oslo before heading off to Denmark and its capital, Copenhagen (pron: Copen-hay-gen) to learn some disturbing facts related to its famous statue, the Little Mermaid, inspired by one of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. It transpires that more than once her arms were sawn of by vandals and she was even unbolted from her rock one night. The police found her at the entrance of the harbour. Must be those Viking genes.
In contrast we also learn that the citizens of Denmark are the happiest in the world. And just to put things into perspective, that title has most recently been conferred upon the citizens of Costa Rica. But I'm sure the Danes are still happy due to their famous social model called Flexicurity which is explained in the program and means, in a nutshell, "Work less & earn more". Who'd disagree?