If you feel like taking on a personal challenge and watch a Danish series, then I got the perfect exercise for you:

Matador (DR) – Danish challenge

A bit of background about “Matador”

In June 2017, Lise Nørgaard, who is by far one of the most respected Danish journalist and writer known for her humorous portrayals of Danish cultural life, turned 100 years old!
She is also the author behind one of the most classical Danish TV series (“Matador”), that was filmed between 1978 and 1982. More about her here.
Earlier in May 2017, DR has restored some of the first episodes of Matador with the addition of subtitles. This was a 3-year project for DR and they restored and shared the entire series made of 24 episodes. This is obviously a very good news for us, students of the Danish language.

How does Matador come into learning Danish?

Matador takes place between the 1920s and 1940s, which will give you more insights about the Danish society at that time.
The actors also speak in a “clearer” Danish, a bit more articulate than the recent series. I admit that some expressions used may not be so relevant today, nonetheless, it is a great starting point to dive into Danish society.

The Matador Challenge

This was obviously not a straight up challenge as it was part of our study programme at Studieskolen. We were given weekly assignments to watch episodes and analyse them.
Our teacher advised that it was the first time for him using Matador as a learning tool, since it has just been restored and subtitled in Danish.

If you feel like challenging yourself (like we did) and improving your understanding of Danish, then I definitely invite you to follow the next steps.

Good to know:

  • Understanding: It has personally been a challenge as I did not understand everything perfectly, but this is part of the learning curve.
  • Getting into it: You should be accustomed to the characters after episode 2. It takes a bit of time to get into the series, but it gets addictive from episode 3.
  • Subtitles: Unless your oral understanding is excellent already, you will most likely read all the subtitles. I personally read a lot more the subtitles to understand what they are saying. Either way, watching it will improve your skills.
  • Translation: Expect to pause (quite) a lot, to translate words that you do not know.
  • DR: If you try to watch DR from outside of Denmark, this may not work due to your IP address not being in Denmark. Try with a VPN, you should definitely be able to watch it!

Get started

Based on my personal experience, I would suggest that you try to take on the Matador Challenge with other students. This will motivate you, but you can also discuss it with them after each episode.
Alternatively, you can watch it and discuss with Danes that you may know.

Go for it:

  • Watch one episode at a time
  • Find 5 new words or expressions that you didn’t know and write them down
  • Find 5 questions about the episode that you will ask the other students
  • Explain your 5 new words/expressions in Danish to your fellow students or friends
  • Ask your 5 questions and give some context for the answers
  • Learn about the new words/expressions that others found
  • Answer the questions from the others


If you take this challenge, feel free to hashtag it on social media #thematadorchallenge
Do not hesitate to share your feedback in the comments section below.

What was your favourite character?
Did you feel an improvement with understanding the series?
Did you learn anything about what the Danish society could have been like in the 1930s?
Would you recommend this series?

My feedback on this exercise

I think it was difficult at the beginning, but after the 3rd episode, I really started to enjoy watching Matador and could understand better all the actors. This means, I had to focus a lot at the beginning (some episodes are over 55min), but it definitely got better.
Finally, I really enjoyed sharing my opinion about Matador with my fellow students.

Watching Matador online

You can watch all Matador episodes in Danish with subtitles in DR’s website.

If you want to watch the episodes in an older quality, I suggest the following website from DR “Bonanza”. You will only find the originals, meaning no subtitles: http://www.dr.dk/bonanza/serie/154/matador

You can also check out below links if you feel like reading more about Matador:
http://www.matadoronline.dk: this page which features recap of each episodes and plenty of other useful information.
https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matador_(tv-serie): Wikipedia page that gives you a very good overview of Matador

Enjoy the Matador Challenge!