Friday, 11 August 2017

You Seen The Set, Part One: Naeturvaktin....


Another year and yet another James Bond-ish excursion for Agent Rob and Miss Moneypenny - both now gamely trying to ignore the fact that it seems a transAtlantic return trip cancels out 20 years of diligent recycling! - as they visited Iceland for a 'st-hopover' en route to the US. Of course, no time for bobbing at the Blue Lagoon or swooning at the spectacular sweep of the Game Of Thrones locations, oh no! As soon as rubber skelped tarmac(!) it was time to head out and hit Laugavegur 180 to see the setting for Naeturvaktin (The Night Shift), the cultra-obscure Icelandic sitcom....





The series first aired on BBC4 in 2011 - where it was a massive hit with 7 people - and is best described as something of an Office-y type affair. The principal character, Georg Bjarnfredarson, is a David Brent/Basil Fawlty hybrid - though far angrier and less likeable than that pair combined - who manages (rules!) the night shift of a city centre Shell petrol station with an iron fist (a decidedly rusty, politically incorrect one, mind), subjecting his fellow staff, the hapless Olafur and nervous Daniel, to all manner of psychological and physical abuse....

Georg Bjarnfredarson, employee of the month....

"hddg!"

Staff meeting of the night shift underway....

On a recent rewatch prior to this blog there's no denying that after 3 enjoyable opening episodes the 4th and 5th take such a relentlessly bleak turn over their 25 minutes - Georg's persistent pursuit and acute assassination of Olafur's character/dreams are painful to watch - that it'd be hard to blame the casual viewer for not persevering. Of course, the 6th episode is an absolute belter and was Rob's turning point (of no return) in his affection for the show....

Olafur Ragnar hitting the salt....

Shell of a station. Shell of a guy.... 

Daniel not Samuel....


The petrol station (now franchised/owned by ORKAN) hasn't changed too much since the series. The staff were pretty amazed when told of our reason for visiting, surely the first ever fans from Scotland/the UK/Europe/anywhere to do so. The interior's obviously been upgraded and remodelled somewhat in the past 10 years but the, er, 'iconic' spiral stair and toilet (for customers' use only, of course!) remain and you can still buy a "hddg" from the counter if you wish (though after much searching Rob settled for a far more affordable Conga Xtra)....

Here. Stair. Here. Here stair here....

Welcome to shell....


B & E the bog par for the course....

'Shunker 5'. Note the garage now partitioned off....

Conga! Cheap as (expensive) chips....

Periodically, quite exhausted and confused by Georg's merciless persecution, Olafur and Daniel will wander off into the chilly night to visit Ylfa and, in an attempt to do the same himself, Rob discovered the producers had cannily made use of the petrol station's drive-thru rear window to give the impression of another location. Though you wouldn't guess it from watching the show Ylfa's not in another building nearby, but actually sitting hidden in behind the main counter. Cunning....

Awrite, doll...?


Ylfa looking suitably (un)impressed with Olafur's chat....

A quick wander round the side and you can spy the workshop/garage where Olafar spends most of his time idling away the long nights, tending to his dilapidated jeep, cowering in hiding from Georg's wrath. Of course, this absence doesn't entirely spare him from being accused of or roped in as an unwitting (or indeed, 'dimwitting') accomplice in many of the show's unfortunate and comical misunderstandings'.... 


Hippa to da hoppa....


Now this, ah, misunderstanding....

It's no secret that you need more than a faith and pocketful of Miss Moneypenny to get by in Iceland - 8 quid for a half litre of swill, erk! - but that didn't stop us visiting the amazing Lucky Records (from where Rob purchased the bulk of his Naeturvaktin, Dagvaktin, Fangavaktin and Mr. Bjarnfredarson DVDs on ebay) on the return journey to the city centre. Therein he duly puzzled the staff with his obscure request for Hlemma Video - a post-Vaktin-trilogy effort from Petur Johann Sigfusson (Olafur) - and further perplexed them with his 'lost-in-translation' wit. Defeated he finally opted to pick up a (genuinely) cheap DVD of the Dagvaktin sequel series for a fellow convert back home....

Very lucky records....

Bargain! Approx. £8.80 + flippin' shippin'....

The final piece of the Laugevegur puzzle was to visit the (loosely affiliated with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Glasgow School of Art) Dead shop. Unfortunately, 'lucky' was against us and it was closed at the time, so we were unable to peruse the strange art(ifacts presumably) on sale inside. Seems to be a major construction work going on just next door - this leery painting disguising a treacherous void, a cavernous opening in the ground presumably awaiting a new 'development'.... else perhaps it's some giant troll grave/excavation....



All the above are within easy walking distance, the ORKAN petrol station (@180) about 1/2 an hour's walk from the City Square straight along the main, er, strip of the Laugavegur, with Dead (@29) and Lucky Records (@Raudarastigur 10) both on the way....



Ach, cheer up, Oli. We'll be back....

Bjork - Violently Happy

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