‘Screen Encounters with Britain: What do young Danes make of Britain and its digital screen culture?’
Screen Encounters with Britain, an academic research project funded by the UK’s Arts & Humanities Research Council, investigates the film, TV and streaming preferences of young Europeans aged 16-34. Led by Professor Jeanette Steemers, Professor Andrea Esser and Dr Matt Hilborn in CMCI King’s College London, it explores how British screen content is accessed, viewed, and interpreted overseas, probing the implications for national ‘soft power’ in an evolving post-Brexit context. Denmark was the first case study market, and fieldwork was carried out between August 2022 and January 2023.
The first report, newly published, offers some fascinating insights into the changing screen consumption habits of young people across Denmark. Flow-TV has become almost insignificant for this age group. Nearly everything is streamed, with Netflix being the No.1 streaming service, followed by HBO Max and Disney+. As confirmed in a wide-ranging survey and 22 interviews, US film and TV are by far the most consumed, followed by Danish and British productions.
Unlike older Danish viewers, young Danes pay little attention to screen productions from other Scandinavian countries. English has become their ‘natural second language’; Anglo-Saxon culture has become the natural extension of young Danes’ cultural realm. British panel shows (8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, QI, or Would I Lie To You) and stand-up comedians (Lee Mack, David Mitchell, Greg Davies, Jimmy Carr, Katherine Ryan) are widely known and consumed on YouTube, as are star presenters like Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear, The Grand Tour) and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef), who are particularly popular with young men. 423 survey respondents were able to name an astonishing 164 unique British programme titles, which confirms the high status, long-term and frequent consumption of British screen content in Denmark.
The most important reason for choosing British content is humour – no matter how dark or sad – followed by the English language. British humour is also perceived as special – sarcastic, dark and intelligent – and is compared favourably to that of other countries, including the US. The ease of watching screen content in the English language is the second most popular reason for choosing UK content. British accents and dialects have their own appeal for many.
Importantly, the findings suggest that an acquired proximity to English-language media and culture through film, TV and language education competes with the historical, cultural and linguistic proximity between Scandinavian nations. The three remaining case study markets – Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy -, where research is taking place between January 2023 and June 2024, will reveal whether this strong orientation towards Anglo-American productions is shared by young people in other parts of Europe. In Denmark, at least, Brexit does not appear to have dented the taste for British film and TV.
The report is freely available and can be downloaded here:
Screen Encounters with Britain: What do young Europeans make of Britain and its digital screen culture (Interim Report Denmark, February 2023).