Norwegian writers Siv Rajendram and Anna Bache-Wiig's new drama Witch Hunt was inspired by the true stories of whistleblowers in Norway. Fighting for justice and taking huge risks, these people often become targeted themselves – the systems that are meant to protect them can let them down, leaving them alone and unsupported with tremendous stress and fear.
In researching the show, Rajendram and Bache-Wiig interviewed whistleblowers and found there was a pattern in the ramifications for speaking out against a powerful entity.
"It's a pattern and it occurs again and again in different types of cases," Rajendram says. "We were really angered by the injustice in these cases and it's kind of frightening. When someone blows the whistle, more often than not it's against power and, seeing what happens to people who do that, you can really understand it's much easier just to go along [and say nothing]. That's part of the fascination and the origins of the idea. These people [whistleblowers] are special people, who speak up and don't remain silent. That's a very fascinating character."
Although heavily researched and inspired by true stories Witch Hunt is a fictional drama. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, who you may recognise as Armistice, the gun-toting bandit and host in Westworld, plays Ida Waage, a trusted and loved CFO in one of Norway's biggest law firms, Biermann and Gude. When an invoice from an unknown Dutch company lands on her desk, she notices something isn't right. The amount isn't huge, but it's enough to raise her suspicion. Ida investigates further and finds that it is linked to a money-laundering operation on behalf of B&G's biggest client, the billionaire Peer Eggen (Mads Ousdal), one of Norway's richest and mightiest businesspeople.
Ida in good faith alerts the executive board of the illegal activity, but they ask her to stay loyal; after all, Eggen is their biggest client. Just to make sure she stays in line, they turn on her, and look to discredit her with the threat of false accusations.
With her job and credibility under threat, Ida is still determined and brave enough to take a stand and turns to the police for justice. Investigator Eirik Bråten (Fridtjov Såheim) discovers that the invoice is a cover-up for a greater scandal that involves various transactions between Eggen and the husband of Norway's Minister of Justice. As the press catches wind of the story, Ida ends up at the centre of a corruption scandal of national proportions. Ida must question if fighting for justice and taking a stand is worth the risk and danger to herself and those she loves.
Topical, striking, shocking and entertaining, Witch Hunt delves deep into the psychological, relational and political consequences of whistleblowing, by focusing the story on the brave whistleblower, rather than the scandal. You'll be engaged, angered and hooked on this compelling drama.
Witch Hunt is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
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