The trailer-blazing hair curlers invention from Denmark that took over the world in the swinging 60s is the topic of the new event Danish TV show “Carmen Curlers”, just picked up by DR Sales for global distribution. The distribution arm of Danish public broadcaster DR is launching the eight-part period drama at Mipcom in Cannes.
The next event TV show from DR Drama behind the cult titles “The Killing,” “Borgen” and more recently “Cry Wolf,” is currently filming at DR’s own studios and in the Copenhagen area.
The strong creative team takes in writer-creator Mette Heeno (“Snow Angels”), concept director Natasha Arthy (“The Rain”) and episodic director Christian Tafdrup (“A Horrible Woman”), working alongside producer Stinna Lassen (“When the Dust Settles”).
A-list Danish actors enrolled in the multi-season period drama include Lars Ranthe (“Another Round,” “The Chestnut Man”), Morten Hee Andersen (“Deliver Us”, “Margrete-Queen of the North”), Maria Rossing (“Snow Angels”), Signe Egholm (“Borgen,” “Into the Wild”) and Rosalinde Mynster (“Darkness – Those Who Kill”).
The high-end TV drama is inspired by the true story of the Dane Arne Bybjerg Pedersen, a former radio-dealer who started a factory in the early 1960s, to produce electronic hair curlers, known as “Carmen Curlers.” At a time of a booming economy in Denmark and consumption of U.S. electronics, the new Carmen Curlers targeted liberated housewives and working women who could apply the brand’s tagline “become a new woman in 10 minutes.”
In the series, that takes off in 1963, we follow wiz entrepreneur Axel and his wife Birthe who struggle to get enough hands to keep production going, with orders rolling in from the U.S. and Europe. Birthe sets out to recruit a majority of unskilled women from the neighboring farms, suddenly offered a ticket to freedom and independence, with their first factory payroll. The working women create new friendships, experience divorce.
The Carmen Curlers business rapidly expands from a handful of employees working out of Axel’s basement, to a worldwide brand with a 3,500 strong workforce in 1969, its own helipad, a private kindergarten, and even a fire station. The Danish hair rollers’ global conquest ends abruptly when Axel decided to sell his Carmen Curlers to U.S. cosmetics corporation Clairol.
Speaking to Variety, Heeno said the “Carmen Curlers” story has been at the back of her head for several years. “At first I thought it was going to be a feature film about a man and a crazy little invention, but then I realized that the story, theme and setting is so much bigger than that,” she said.
“‘Carmen Curlers’ is not only the story of a fascinating man with big dreams; it’s also the story of all the women who, for the first time in their life, get a job and start making their own money.
“What kind of freedom and independence do they experience? What are the consequences when women leave their homes and become full-time workers? What happens to society? To their families? To them?” Heeno asked.
“My desire to dig into those questions with my writing team made it obvious that we would need many hours of TV drama, if we were to elaborate on such a complex and explosive theme,” she explained.
DR Drama’s premium show has received financial backing from NRK in Norway, SVT in Sweden, Yle in Finland and RÚV in Iceland as part of the Nordic 12 pubcasters’ alliance, on top of the Nordisk Film & TV Fond.
The first season is due to launch in Denmark in the fall 2022 and season 2 a year later.
Other anticipated premium dramas on DR Sales’ fall slate include Season Two of the Norwegian oil industry drama “State of Happiness,” a Canneseries winner pre-sold earlier to streamer Topic for North America, and BBC for the U.K.-Ireland. Delivery of the high-end period drama produced by Maipo for NRK is due early 2022.