Birgitte Nyborg is the former prime minister of Denmark and current Member of Parliament having formed a new political party, ‘The New Democrats,’ in the acclaimed Danish drama Borgen. At the beginning of the series, Birgitte went by the name Nyborg Christensen before she divorced from her husband Phillip. He was having difficulty dealing with his wife’s notoriety and resorted to having an affair which is something Birgitte would not tolerate. Although divorced, Brigitte and Phillip share custody of their two children and remain good friends as well as loving parents. In the latest series, Birgitte is now dating an English architect but keeps her personal and private life separate.
Borgen Season One kicked off with Birgitte as the leader of a minority political party, ‘The Moderates’, and somehow finds herself as a candidate for the role of the Prime Minister of Denmark. She is a reasonable and kind-hearted individual; which is often perceived as unconventional in the world of politics. However, her role as Prime Minister comes to a close after conflict between party’s forces her to lose her position. Although she is no longer the PM, Birgitte still commands authority as a fundamental Danish public figure but soon retires from politics altogether. She also interacts with several company boards and corporations and is content in her new business career.
Birgitte’s personal life has also been a prominent part of Borgen but she has kept many secrets to herself. Her teenage daughter, Laura, has been suffering from mental illness in recent seasons; an element of her family life Birgitte maintained as strictly private. During this time, Birgitte was at the height of her career and, as a result, the press became increasingly intrusive. For her daughter’s well being Birgitte decided to take a step back from politics. Furthermore, Birgitte’s biggest secret lies in her own illness; breast cancer. Rather than asking for a sympathy vote or explaining the reasons behind her constant absence in the office, Birgitte kept the illness entirely to herself and sought treatment without anyone knowing.
Birgitte Nyborg is portrayed by Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen who took on the role in 2010. Compared frequently to Sofie Gråbøl’s character of Sarah Lund in The Killing (2007-12), Knudsen has personified an iconic female figure of Nordic television. Birgitte is suspected to be based on Denmark’s own Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who became the country’s first female PM in 2011. Even though Thorning-Schmidt was not elected until after Borgen aired, suspicions still run high on the powerful and inspiring leader of Denmark.