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Borgen star reveals hit political drama is back… and with a menopause twist

© SYSTEMSidse Babett Knudsen in the new season of Borgen and, right, with co-star Birgitte Hjort Sørensen.
Sidse Babett Knudsen in the new season of Borgen and, right, with co-star Birgitte Hjort Sørensen.

First time around it became Nicola Sturgeon’s favourite TV show and, after a decade away, Borgen is back.

Sidse Babett Knudsen, star of the political drama set in the Danish parliament, admits returning as fictional prime minister Birgitte Nyborg is daunting.

The series will be shown on Netflix from Thursday and Knudsen, 53 – who also starred in sci-fi hit Westworld – revealed she was nervous about the comeback.

She said: “I’ve never had performance anxiety before, but this part had become a kind of myth around me. No matter what I’ve done since, journalists in every country asked, ‘So is there going to be another series?’

“My initial response was, ‘Don’t touch it’. I’ve always felt very responsible for Birgitte and the whole DNA of Borgen.”

Borgen – which translates as “the Castle” – refers to a nickname for Christiansborg Palace, the home of Denmark’s Parliament, Prime Minister’s Office and Supreme Court, with the TV series charting the personal lives and political intrigue generated by the intricacies of Scandinavian coalition politics.

The first three seasons, which aired on BBC from 2010 to 2013, followed Nyborg, leader of the fictional Moderates, as she became Denmark’s first female prime minister before resigning and starting a new political party.

In the new season, Nyborg is now foreign minister in a country where the leaders of the main parties are women, and Knudsen was keen to put her own experiences of menopause into Borgen. She said: “We had discussions about the emotional side. I’ve had hot flushes in meetings. It’s embarrassing. Birgitte also gets angrier than she would if her hormones weren’t pushing her as well. So there’s a little loss of control.”

Sturgeon, a celebrity fan, has said she is in the “foothills” of the menopause but believes there should be a greater awareness and discussion.

She appeared on stage with Knudsen at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2013 and the actress has also made an award-winning trip to Scotland more recently when she starred in Limbo, a Bafta-winning comedy-drama film, featuring four asylum seekers and filmed in North and South Uist. She has also starred in A Hologram For The King and played a lesbian dominatrix in Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy.

Borgen, Netflix, from Thursday