Appointment viewing is a different prospect in Sweden. The nation is not glued to AC-12 interviews with an officer one rank superior. Instead, each spring for the past three years, the state broadcaster Sveriges Television has filmed 24/7 coverage of migrating moose (also known as European elk). The Great Elk Trek is another Nordic slow TV sensation, following on from Norway’s train journey to the Arctic Circle, Knitting and Firewood (12 hours of stacking and burning, watched by more than a million viewers).
The annual spring migration involves the moose herd having to swim across the Angermanalven river. They are in no hurry – this is slow TV, after all – and will not cross until the last ice on the shore has melted. This means the livestream often offers up an hour or two of a single moose chewing meditatively, warm breath vapour dissipating gradually in the forest chill, or just standing looking at the river. That is a best-case scenario. “I’m watching the monitors right now and there is absolutely nothing happening,” said presenter Anders Lundin, who was interviewed about the trek in its first year. Most of the time you get a delightful, entirely moose-free landscape.
Thrill-seekers can head to the daily highlights for moments of drama, such as a moose – or even several – breaking into a light jog. I’m joking: there is peril, as when an animal falls through the ice. That makes the times when you finally see them crossing feel genuinely momentous and celebratory.
I’m hooked. Watching – or, more often, looking for – these creatures in this beautiful environment, seemingly free from human interference, brings me deep peace. It feels primal: “Humans have been sitting and waiting exactly as we are now for thousands of years,” says Lundin. This is the kind of calm content Netflix, with its new Meditation TV can only dream of. Now, apologies, but it’s drizzling in the Swedish forest and time for me to play “moose or tree stump”.
Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist