British Airways Eases Long-Haul Stress With Norwegian 7-Hour Rail Epic
British Airways planes will screen a seven-hour film showing a rail journey through Norway in real time as its first foray into so-called Slow TV, a genre it says should appeal to long-haul passengers seeking relaxing viewing.
Other offerings that could be available alongside the latest computer games, Hollywood blockbusters and television cop shows include knitting, a walk in the park and bird feeding, London-based British Airways said today in a statement.
Footage of a rail trip from Bergen to Oslo was a breakout hit in Norway, where about 1 million people or one in five of the population have viewed it, according to British Airways, which will screen the journey on hundreds of flights from next month. The marathon film has a similar appeal to that of moving plane maps watched by passengers for “endless hours,” it said.
“It fits perfectly with the wallpaper-style footage people find mesmerizing,” BA on-board entertainment manager Richard D’Cruze said after securing the first airline rights to the rail film. “There’s a hypnotic, calming and entertaining quality to Slow TV that is perfect for in-flight entertainment.”
Slow TV will be available in British Airways jets equipped with Thales SA (HO) electronics, including its new Boeing Co. (BA) 787 Dreamliners serving Toronto and Newark and Airbus Group NV (AIR) A380 superjumbos to cities including Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
Norway’s NRK first screened its 7 hour 16 minute film of the Bergensbanen train route from the North Sea coast through the country’s central mountain chain to Oslo in 2009, with viewing figures averaging 176,000 — versus the usual 33,000 — and 1.25 million people tuning in at some point in the program.
Four cameras were used to shoot the documentary, two of them external and the others used for interviews, with archive footage inserted whenever the train entered one of 182 tunnels on the 100-year-old route, according to NRK’s website.
The program’s success led the state broadcaster to follow up in 2011 with a live and nonstop screening of the Hurtigruten “coastal express” ship journey from Bergen to Kirkenes on Norway’s polar border with Russia, 1,300 miles to the north. Half the Norwegian population watched the film at some point.
The broadcaster’s National Firewood Night coverage last year featured a four-hour documentary on firewood, followed by eight hour’s live footage of a burning fireplace. Its most recent programs showed 18 hours of salmon swimming upstream and the knitting of a sweater.
For passengers in the mood for less soporific viewing, British Airways (IAG) is also screening next-day highlights from the Brazil World Cup and Wimbledon tennis championships.