Swedish-Americans set for small screen return

With a second season of Swedish reality television show "Allt för Sverige" set to start on Sunday, The Local catches up with two of the Swedish-American contestants who return to Sweden to explore their families' past.

Swedish-Americans set for small screen return

“Maybe we’re Swedes with strong American influences, or we’re Americans with strong Swedish influences,” explained Anna Brita Mohr, one of this year’s contestants, tells The Local.

Season two of the hit TV show “Allt för Sverige” (‘Everything for Sweden’) was filmed over the summer and host Anders Lundin returns to Sveriges Television (SVT) to guide ten new curious contestants through a competition to give them a peek into their families’ past.

For participants Vernon Neil Ferguson, 42, and 32-year-old Mohr, being selected was an emotional roller coaster.

”I cried. It was a lifelong dream to come here. I was very close to my mormor [maternal grandmother], who died 18 years ago and this was a way to reconnect with her,” Ferguson explains.

RELATED PHOTO GALLERY: ‘Allt för Sverige’ second season contestants

Ferguson’s grandmother came to the United States with her Dutch husband, but as she never spoke about Sweden, her grandson knew little about his heritage.

With the first episode taking off in an area near where several contestants have family roots, the picturesque High Coast (Höga Kusten) of northeastern Sweden, the group delved into their past from the very first day.

All contestants were given photos of their ancestors, with a key and very little extra information – an overwhelming experience for many of the contestants.

”In English, you would call it ‘rubbernecking’. We were constantly turning our heads at everything. All the sights, the smells, and the road signs that were in Swedish,” Ferguson says.

”Those first days were just full of adrenaline,” Mohr adds.

Finding out more about their ancestry triggered similar emotions, and both contestants agree that the new family findings rounded out their knowledge of themselves.

”There is a relief when you find out certain things, but that is accompanied with more questions,” Ferguson explains.

”Putting stories to the faces and resolving the question of why my family left Sweden was something that had to be answered, but it was not a happy experience. It was more just facts,” he admits.

Mohr, who is half-Swedish and has always been labelled as ”the tall Swedish girl”, adds that coming to Sweden felt like coming home.

”I felt like there were a lot of things that were very familiar,” she says.

Despite experiencing some culture shock, Ferguson agrees, saying that ”during that first week, everyone began to feel at home.”

Ferguson recalls that their group bonded well and ended up feeling like a family in Sweden, in their own peculiar way.

“We were all very different people, but we bonded because of this one shared experience,” Mohr adds.

“Feeling at home with a group of strangers was probably the most meaningful experience, combined with finding out about my country and my family.”

“We had such a good group, we’ve definitely become lifelong friends,” adds Ferguson.

Having returned to the United States, all contestants have taken bits of Sweden home with them. Particularly, Ferguson and Mohr agree, the word lagom.

“It’s an ideal, I definitely gained an appreciation for that,” Mohr explains.

“Before coming to Sweden, I would have described that word as Goldilocks and the three bears; you know everything is just right,” Ferguson tells The Local.

“But it’s not that – it’s a whole way of life.”

Season two of “Allt för Sverige” starts on Sunday, October 28th at 8pm on SVT channel 1

Sanne Schim van der Loeff

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More than one in three Swedes watched Donald Duck on Christmas Eve

Donald Duck again looks set to be Sweden's biggest television event of the year, with millions of Swedes going quackers for the Christmas tradition.

More than one in three Swedes watched Donald Duck on Christmas Eve
Christmas in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

More than one in three of Sweden's population of ten million tuned in to watch the 1950s 'From All of Us to All of You' Disney compilation, referred to in Sweden as ‘Kalle Anka' (Donald Duck) on Christmas Eve.

It was seen by 3,859,000 people when it was broadcast at 3pm, according to MMS which keeps statistics on Swedes' television viewing habits – the second-highest figure for the show in the 21st century.

That means it is on track to be the most-watched television event in Sweden in 2017.

While some way from its record audience of 4.32 million viewers in 1997, it is 125,000 more than last year and the fifth-highest figure for Kalle Anka since 1994, said MMS.

The dubbed cartoon compilation, which also features favourites such as Cinderella, Mickey Mouse and Ferdinand the Bull, has been shown in Sweden every year since 1959.

It is so popular that calls to emergency services fall by around 20 percent, something officials call “the Donald Duck effect”.

According to mobile provider Telenor, data usage on their network dropped by 29 percent during the hour when the Disney cartoon aired last Christmas.