Matador (TV Series)
Matador is a Danish TV series produced and shown between 1978 and 1982. It is set in the fictional Danish town of Korsbæk between 1929 and 1947. It follows the lives of a range of characters from across the social spectrum, focusing specifically on the rivalry between the families of two businessmen: The banker Hans Christian Varnæs, an established local worthy, and social climber Mads (Andersen-)Skjern, who arrives in town as the series opens. The name Matador was taken from the localised edition of the boardgame Monopoly, also the series' tentative English title. In addition, in contemporary Danish, a "matador" is often used to describe a crafty entrepreneur.
Directed by famed Danish film maker Erik Balling, Matador was the idea of author Lise Nørgaard who wrote the bulk of the episodes alongside Karen Smith, Jens Louis Petersen and Paul Hammerich. The series is one of the most well-known and popular examples of Danish television and represents the peak of longtime development of Danish TV drama by the public service channel Danmarks Radio.
The series has become part of the modern self-understanding of Danes, partly because of its successful mix of melodrama and a distinct warm Danish humour in the depiction of characters, which were portrayed by a wide range of the most popular Danish actors at the time; but also not least because of its accurate portrayal of a turbulent Denmark from around the start of the Great Depression and through Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark in World War II.
The distinctive and in Denmark celebrated theme tune of the series was composed by Bent Fabricius-Bjerre.
Matador originally aired on DR between November 1978 and January 1982, and has enjoyed repeated successful reruns in 1984-85, 1989–90, 1997–98 and 2006-07. The 1985 airing of the series finale still stands as the most viewed ever in Danish TV history, with appr. 3.6 million viewers on May 26 that year, this in a country of some 5 million people at the time.
Additionally, the series has been released on VHS, and in 2001 on region 2 DVD. This first edition of 12 separate DVDs with two episodes each has been one of the most sold in the country's history, and surpassed a total of 1 million sold copies in 2005. A second 2006 13-DVD region 0 box set also included English subtitles for a wider audience. The series was widely popular in neighbouring Norway, Sweden and Germany, and has been broadcast in more than 20 countries worldwide, one of which was Australia, here also widely popular when broadcast on Australian SBS TV in Danish with English subtitles. Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, born in Tasmania, has stated in a TV interview on Australian TV, that she watched Matador whilst learning Danish.