The next Downton Abbey? Swedish postwar drama, directed by ZG's Harald Hamrell, pulls in record

A Swedish TV drama exploring the postwar period has by far exceeded expectations, pulling in over 1.5 million viewers – that's more than a tenth of Sweden's entire population.

'Vår tid är nu' ('Our time is now') has drawn comparisons to the global phenomenon Downton Abbey due to the 'upstairs-downstairs' motif of the drama, which follows the changing lives of the upper and lower classes in postwar Sweden.

The programme is a co-production between SVT and Viaplay as well as Film West, and though the exact cost hasn't been made public, it's one of SVT's biggest ever investments in a drama. But it seems like the bet has paid off, with initial viewing figures suggesting it could be one of Sweden's most successful drama series ever.

The premiere, broadcast on October 2nd, was watched by 1.49 million people, with viewing figures staying strong. The fourth episode, which aired on Monday, reached a record for the show with audience numbers topping 1.5 million. The latest episode was watched by a further 140,000 people on SVT Play, the channel’s online catch-up service.

For comparison, the first episode of Swedish-Danish thriller 'Bron' ('The Bridge') had just over 1.03 million viewers in Sweden in 2011, while the first episode of its third and most recent series was watched by 1.48 million. Other popular dramas 'Innan vi dör' ('Before we die') and 'Midnattsol' ('Midnight Sun') pulled in 1.4 million and 1.39 million viewers respectively for their opening episodes.

Two series of 'Vår tid är nu', each with ten one-hour episodes, have already been filmed, with the second series expected to air late next year. The first episode opens with scenes of jubilation following the end of the Second World War, and follows a blossoming relationship between the wealthy Nina Löwander, whose family runs an upmarket Stockholm restaurant, and the restaurant's new kitchen assistant, Calle.

The restaurant is a microcosm for society, and over the 20 episodes, 'Vår tid är nu' looks at how people of all classes, and the city of Stockholm itself, adapt during the two decades after the war. It doesn't shy away from difficult subject areas, such as Swedish collaboration with the Nazis, as well as abortion and LGBT issues.