Our national obsession with Scandinavia is no secret: from the culinary innovation exhibited by Noma, frequently named best restaurant in the world, to Sarah Lund and her desirable array of Nordic sweaters in The Killing.
The first episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s bandwagon-jumping cookery series focussed on Sweden, and for those thinking Hugh’s exploration of the country might depart from the usual clichés, don’t be fooled; just over five minutes in we are treated to his (frankly awful) karaoke rendition of Money, Money, Money in the excitement of meeting ABBA leading man Björn Ulvaeus, and later not so treated to a shot of Hugh embracing the tradition of jumping starkers into a hot tub on the edge of a sprawling Swedish lake. Whilst the natural beauty of the country and its culinary vibrancy are shown, it is disappointing that these scenes are overshadowed by the overzealous celebration of Swedish clichés.
There is, however, a fascinating – if unexpected – insight into the darker side of Sweden, where wealth disparity has left a growing underclass that lack a stake in the equal opportunities the country so prides itself on. Fearnley-Whittingstall’s exploration offers thought-provoking images that are a welcome change to the mania surrounding fashionable Scandina- vian exports Britain, and the rest of the world, is seemingly so fixated on. Scandimania is an enjoyable watch, though the lack of culinary inventions and the typical reserved attitudes of the Swedes that Hugh ultimately means the programme fails to live up to ‘mania’ of the title.
Watch Scandimania on C4, Sundays at 8pm.
Read more about Hugh with LSi coverage of his talk at Ilkley Literature Festival
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