• Sweden edition
'The Office' breeds with Swedish sitcom in world's first 'spin-make'

'The Office' breeds with Swedish sitcom in world's first 'spin-make'

Published: 07 Feb 2012 16:39 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Feb 2012 16:39 GMT+01:00

As Swedes get set to watch the premiere of the Swedish version of the hit TV sitcom “The Office”, The Local's Oliver Gee learns how producers took an innovative approach to ensure the show's humour wasn't lost in translation.

Since it first aired in the UK ten years ago, "The Office" has become a standard bearer of television comedy.

From the minds of Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant, a franchise was born that has spanned the globe in remakes and tributes. The Office in the US is currently at season 8, in Germany, season 5.

There is even talk of The Office - China.

And on Sunday, Sweden will join the growing list of countries to offer their own version of the ‘mockumentary’ comedy, something that has got Swedes talking quite a bit in their own offices.

Click here for a photo gallery of scenes from 'Kontoret'

Despite Sweden being far from the first country to recreate the popular series, producers at TV4 have nevertheless managed to put an original twist on "Kontoret", the Swedish version of the "The Office".

Instead of introducing viewers to an entirely new set of characters, the Swedish show's creators have decided to base "Kontoret" around a well-known character from the award-winning Swedish sitcom "Solsidan".

Ove Sundberg, played by comedian Henrik Dorsin, was supposed to be a mere supporting character in "Solsidan" when it was first broadcast in 2010.

But Dorsin’s Sundberg had Swedes in stitches with his painfully accurate portrayal of an annoying neighbour whose trademark bald head and over-exuberant smile kept popping up at the most inopportune moments, much to the dismay of the main characters in "Solsidan".

Over the programme's two seasons, Sundberg's antics earned him a cult following, prompting producers at TV4 to think the character would be perfect for the starring role in "Kontoret".

And Duncan Cooper, international executive producer of the program from BBC Worldwide, agrees.

“I couldn’t stop laughing when I watched it – and I can’t even speak Swedish,” he tells The Local.

“The characterization was excellent, it was well shot, Dorsin has given a fantastic interpretation of the David Brent character – I take my hat off to the makers”.

“Kontoret” (Swedish for ‘the office’) also stars Sweden’s 'funniest man' of 2008, Björn Gustafsson as "Viking" from sales, who also happens to be a military expert and survival strategist.

Other stars include Kim Sulocki and Sissela Benns.

A clip from the trailer for 'Kontoret'

The office itself is set in Upplands-Väsby, a nondescript Stockholm suburb known to many commuters as nothing more than a stop on the commuter rail line running north of the Swedish capital.

Dorsin himself is excited about the opportunity.

“It feels good to contribute with something of my own, that is, Ove, when you’re working with a proven show like The Office,” he said in a statement.

“So it won’t just be an imitation. Above all, it’s fun to get to be in Sweden’s, if not the world’s, first combined remake and spin-off series. A spin-make… or a re-off”.

Casting Dorsin in-character as well as award winning actors may seem detrimental to the concept of recreating a typical office (the actors in the original UK version, with the exception of Gervais, were largely unknown) but Cooper believes that changes must be embraced for overseas environments.

“The show must always be adapted, I always encourage the writers to take the essence of the British version and graft it into the current problems or issues in their own countries," he explains.

“This is what made Israel’s version so great – we were able to incorporate certain political undercurrents, things that were really being talked about in office life. And this is what we’ve done with Sweden’s version.”

No matter the cast, the national issues, the script, one thing seems clear – the world loves The Office, and hopes are high that Kontoret will follow the trend.

“The show has been a great international success so far – from Chile to France,” Cooper said.

“This can be put down to the universality of the concept. Everyone can recognize the characters and the situations instantly. And it grafts very easily do different cultures.”

“Kontoret” launches the first of the eight-episode series at 8pm on Sunday on TV4.

Related links:

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

17:43 February 7, 2012 by planethero
could be good :)
17:58 February 7, 2012 by JulieLou40
Yeah wish my Swedish was good enough to be able to watch it :)
20:05 February 7, 2012 by Lukestar1991
@ JulieLou40, well why dont you watch it and learn then??
20:41 February 7, 2012 by eppie
For people that are not able to understand English humor there already is the simpletons version of the office; the American one.

Is it so much to ask to once in a while make an original TV show?
09:27 February 8, 2012 by ardnis
Love this swedish version! The english is the best one, the american not fun at all. Also you need to like the british humor... :-D
11:18 February 8, 2012 by Satch
I've only seen the show Solsidan a few times, but I think it is a super idea to spin off the character for the show. But boy what a commute from Solsidan to Upplands-Väsby LOL.
19:45 February 8, 2012 by mafketis
The peculiar insanities and inanities of office work differ a lot from country to country so remakes make a lot of sense.
11:38 February 9, 2012 by robban70226
lack of creative talent, just another mdiocre Swedish copy cat
18:33 February 9, 2012 by DiegoP
To all the douchebags who think because they like the British office better than the US version they are smarter than the rest of the world; good luck getting extra points from this in your IQ tests.

I am seriously getting annoyed by this.
15:59 February 10, 2012 by Bartorelli
What a load of twaddle....ok ...as "mafketis" says...the peculiar insanities and inanities of office work differ a lot from country to country, but Sweden cannot make comedy remakes of British/American sitcoms.
18:59 February 10, 2012 by james_g
@ Bartorelli - first, assuming you ARE referring to 'The Office', it's a British sitcom, not a British/American one. Second, Americans do seem to have great difficulty in making comedy remakes of British sitcoms - at least remakes that seem funny/amusing to a British audience. Third - "Sweden cannot make comedy remakes of British sitcoms" (yes, edited!) - why not? Fourth (and moving a touch laterally) Sweden makes a much better job of capturing the ambience of 'Antiques Roadshow' than the Americans do!
12:56 February 11, 2012 by JohnnyEnglish
Both the american and the swedish versions are rubbish. I haven't seen any of them but trust me they are rubbish.
14:09 February 11, 2012 by prince T
dorsin is the best man for the job
20:58 February 13, 2012 by Swedish Meatbulls
personally I was a bit disappointed,expected them to do thingsa bit more Swedish Office.

Also to many product placing. to many sponsored by: But best of all the Swedish Union sponsored the program! Talk about having to much money Sure It would be more fun to make a reality program of the Swedish Unions, It would have us all doubled up!

13:05 February 15, 2012 by BritVik
As to Swedes managing a Swedish version of an English sitcom, they seldom can match - or even understand - the humour. One exception however was 'Albert och Herbert' which to a great extent used the original 'Steptoe & Son' scripts, but modified to Gothenburg humour that is fairly similar to ours. I understand, though, that, as a result, a lot of that humour was lost on the east coast for some reason or other of which I shall not attempt to comment. Sten-Åke Cederhök and Thomas von Brömsen made a good Steptoe and son, but their capacity to emulate English humour has not been matched at any time since. Swedish humour is - well - Swedish. Can't remember when I last truly laughed at anything on SVT in Swedish.

As Swedish Meatballs puts it:- a reality programme about Swedish unions would have us doubled up - there is quite a possibility, but perhaps only if it were based on some of the British unions.
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
University applications rocket to record high
People-watching April 18-20
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
People-watching April 16
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
Abba duo hints at reunion
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit: