Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Effects of Slow TV

Slow TV is experienced on the whole like any other TV format, like any show, people experience it from where they are at in their own frame of mind and react from there. From this there will be a spectrum of ways in which people are affected.

Interestingly, there are at least two accounts of people being so absorbed into the viewing that they forget their immediate surroundings and become convinced they are in the environment being screened on the Slow TV transmission; eventually they are jolted back to the reality that they are in their living room.

76 year old Olav Ă˜verland watched the entire Bergensbanen train journey of seven hours fourteen minutes; at the end he stood up to retrieve his coat from what would be the luggage rail and bumped his head; with that he realised he was in his living room. (1)

Knut Grimeland, 82 years watched as much as possible of the five and a half day Hurtigruten boat transmission with minimal breaks from his armchair. He remarks, "The time was around three in the night and the boat was going to depart Stokmarknes. When the boat blew the horn, I lived so much inside the trip I started running up the stairs to catch to get back on board the boat. It was not until I got up that I realized I was not on board Hurtigruten". (2)

Are these folk particularly suggestible? What would one say about the psychological suggestibility of folk immersed into that environment?

More commonly it is reported that Slow TV has a particularly calming, even hypnotic effect. Is this true? It seems commonplace enough for the Bergensbanen train journey to have been bought up by British Airways as a way of settling people into the flight after the preparation and airport checks.

Andrew Zolli's blog refers to "... Norwegians who told me about the Slow TV movement expressed considerable pride in its existence. One woman in her 20’s told me, “Everything moves so fast now, going slow is the new punk.” Another told me that the absence of a narrative allowed her to look – really look – at what she was seeing on the screen – and to notice details she would have otherwise missed. And middle-aged man told me he found the broadcasts comforting..." (3)

Slow TV has indeed had drug like attributes ascribed to it.

Temazepam TV: Referring to the drug-like hypnotic and calming effects which some have encountered while watching it. Seems to have been first used here by Time Magazine in July 2013 - but not the first time it has been likened to a drug. (4)

Valium TV: By sociologist Trond Blindheim - here at Dagbladet (5) in June 2011, in response to the Hurtigruten Minutt for Minutt becoming a national event. It's not the first time TV in general has been referred to as a drug - The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy had a track in 1992 called "Television - The Drug of the Nation". Video worth watching.

Admittedly more sources need to be cited here, which they will in time. Research is embryonic and very little has been done academically about Slow TV so far. To be continued...

Just ahead of the BBC Four Goes Slow season, I gave an interview to the media psychology department at the University of Salford. A blog post from that interview can be seen here.


Slow Television -The Slow TV Blog


  1. Intriguing post!

    As a psychologist I'm fascinated by the phenomenon that is Slow TV.

    As a researcher I would relish the opportunity to study the actual effects of Slow TV on consumers, particularly in contrast to regular high octane TV, which has been the norm for so many years.

    As a father of young children, I struggle to find to suitable programmes that don't leave my boys hyper post-viewing.

    As the director of an independent research institute I would welcome any funding / a commission to robustly study the effects of Slow TV, and embed it within the academic literature.

    Dr Matthew Shorrock

    1. Interestingly it is the younger generation which seems to struggle with the concept of Slow TV and "why would anyone want to watch that". Probably 35+ is the demographic which most gets Slow TV.

      Not sure how and if children would engage in Slow TV; In the Night Garden has moments of tranquility. How do you get children to sit still to watch something for a long time? Maybe stimulation, activity and busy-ness are embedded in the modern way of life.

      The age question is another factor bear in mind.

  2. Hi Guys,

    I'm making a documentary about Slow TV for my graduation in Communication and Entertainment studies. I'm doing this project as an intern in a dutch production company called ThinkFish. I started today and I'm yet to frame my research question but I think it will be formed around the importance of a culture for the succes of a Slow TV concept.. Why is it that Slow TV is so popular in Norway, and what has that to do with the Norwegian culture, is it the identification of national things that make it so succesfull?. The goal of ThinkFish is to bring Slow TV to Holland. Slow TV has only been broadcasted once on national television (Tokyio Reverse) but gained little to no attention.

    What do you think of it? Maybe we can do a sparring session one time. Or you would like to contribute to the documentary?

    my email is

    Kind regards,