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SUMMER IN SWEDEN

INTRODUCING

Introducing… Ernst Kirchsteiger

Introducing... is The Local's guide to Swedish celebrity. In this instalment Rebecca Martin finds out more about Ernst Kirchsteiger - the softly spoken interior decorator-cum-philosopher who annually invades TV screens all over Sweden.

Introducing... Ernst Kirchsteiger

Ok, so what’s the lowdown on this geezer anyway?

Ernst? Well, he’s more of an institution really. “No summer without Ernst” is something that Swedes seem to all agree on. Ernst is the epitome of the word folkkär or loved by the people – which doesn’t mean that everyone loves him really, but rather that everyone knows who he is and will have an opinion on him.

Fine – but what does he do and why are you going on about him?

Ernst is the hugely popular interior decorator who hosted the TV-show Sommartorpet (“Summer Cottage”) on the national public broadcaster SVT between 2000 and 2007, where the decorating team chose a random old shack somewhere in the countryside and did it up over the course of one summer. Swedes were glued to their screens.

Seriously – you are telling me about some old interior decorator guy? What’s the fuzz with him?

Easy tiger, I was getting to that. I said Ernst has become an institution. There’s a reason. How many people do you know who can deliver one-liners such as “Has it ever happened that you have found yourself falling in love with a stone?” or “I want to feel summer all over my body – not just dip my toes in it!” in every show he hosted? I mean, come on! The guy’s a philosopher.

Ok, I admit that’s pretty… unusual. But why are you telling me about him now?

It’s summer – and as I said before – no Swedish summer is complete without Ernst. After leaving SVT, Ernst went over to commercial TV station TV4 – which probably meant a heftier pay cheque – and started filming similar programmes with them.

On Thursday, the latest season of the “Summer with Ernst” show will begin airing on TV4. This season Ernst and his crew have found an empty power station that they are doing up. Riveting stuff!

Power station, you said? What on earth for?

Beats me. But I bet it’s good TV. And Ernst recently said in interview that there will be lots of steel beams and concrete. This break from the traditional cottage look is bound to be a hit with ladies of a certain age. As is Ernst, as it happens.

OK, I’ll have to take your word for it – but do continue.

I’m telling you – Swedes go mad for this guy, they want to spend each holiday season with him. The show Jul med Ernst (“Christmas with Ernst”) featuring Ernst decorating, baking and busying himself with the old crimbo arts and crafts went straight to Swedish hearts.

You are kidding me? Is this guy some kind of guru?

Funny you should mention that – in 2006 he published a book called Ernstologi (“Ernstology”) – which featured some of his most famous quotes from the show.

Now I’ve heard it all.

No, you haven’t. In April it was announced that a magazine Hemma med Ernst (“At home with Ernst”) would soon be forthcoming – it will be published four times a year – one for each season.

So now there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to decorate and celebrate all Swedish seasons Ernst-style.

Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here

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CELEBRITY

Is Elijah Wood in Sundsvall and what is he doing there?

It is not that Sundsvall is not a nice town. It is just that it is not normally the place where Hollywood stars go for a night out. So rumours that Elijah Wood was visiting the town quickly went viral on Thursday.

Is Elijah Wood in Sundsvall and what is he doing there?
The main shopping street in Sundsvall. And Elijah Wood. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT & Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The 35-year-old actor of Lord of the Rings fame was reportedly spotted visiting restaurant 'Tuppen' in the central Swedish town, which posted picture evidence on Facebook and Instagram late on Wednesday.

News of the unexpected celebrity visit quickly dominated local news headlines in Sweden, and was picked up by some of the national newspapers too, with growing excitement on social media. Several newspapers even asked readers to call them if they had any more information about the visit.

“Starstruck at Tuppen. Celebrity visit in the shape of Elijah Wood himself from the Lord of the Rings. Thanks for the visit!” wrote the restaurant.

Not everyone was convinced that it actually was the star, however, and some speculated that it could just be a lookalike or a clever PR trick by the restaurant itself to attract more visitors.

“I think it's fake. They had a customer who looked like him and wanted to joke,” wrote one person on their Facebook page. “Is it fake or is he looking for the ring in Sundsvall now?” wrote another.

Wood, who's currently starring in BBC America series Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, visited Stockholm last month to perform at the Södra Teatern venue with his friend Zach Cowie as DJ duo Wooden Wisdom. His film production company SpectreVision, of which he is a co-founder, helped produce Swedish 2013 science fiction movie LFO.

With a population of some 50,000 people, historic sawmill town Sundsvall is the third biggest town in Sweden's northern region Norrland and Sweden's 21st biggest town overall. It is home to one of the campuses of Mid-Sweden University as well as Sweden's first-ever international casino.

Sundsvall's nearby island Alnön was recently voted one of the most beautiful places in Sweden. Restaurant Tuppen is one of a number of restaurants in the town. It opened in May this year and aims to serve locally produced meat and fish.

The reason behind Wood's supposed visit to the town was not immediately known, but it would not be the first time an international celebrity has fallen in love with unexpected places in Sweden.

Last year US-Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean revealed that he wanted to move to Sandviken outside Gävle. British actor Hugh Grant recently bought a house in Torekov, southern Sweden. And rapper Kanye West paid a visit to the rural town of Älmhult to convince its Ikea headquarters to let him design furniture.