Welcome to Utmark

This new Norwegian, 8-part series on HBO manages to be both exquisitely funny and deeply poignant with a motley cast of characters that include an alcoholic, cuckold sheep farmer and a local sheriff with Crohn’s disease, a gambling addiction and an ineffective, hands-off approach. There’s an enterprising undertaker and a maudlin pimp and it’s all set in the high north of Norway close to the border with Russia. Beautiful though it is, this isn’t a sunny place and there’s not much sunshine in the show but there are a bundle of dark laughs as the mundane surface is peeled back to reveal the outrageous – hapless humans doing their level best despite themselves. Possibly the funniest character is the newly arrived teacher, fresh from the big smoke capital, seeking a new adventure but finding no end of obstacles in her path. Some more sinister than others! 9/10

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