For the German-speaking markets, 'Riget' was translated into 'Hospital der Geister - The Kingdom', as a direct translation, 'Das Reich', for obvious reasons was deemed inappropriate.
Reportedly, a third installment of the series was prepared but scrapped as several of the leading actors either passed away or retired within a relatively short period of time.
The dishwashers' voices had to be dubbed throughout the first series, as it proved impossible for the two actors to recite their lines correctly.
The large factory-like building that Dr. Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Järegård) surveys with his binoculars from the hospital roof is the Swedish Nuclear Power Plant at Barsebäck. Due to its proximity to Copenhagen it was a frequent source of friction between the two countries until it was shut down in 2005.
The character name Stig Helmer, played by Ernst-Hugo Järegård, is taken from the name of the character Stig-Helmer Olsson (portrayed by Lasse Åberg) which is the protagonist in the long running Swedish comedy movie series of "Sällskapsresan" (Sällskapsresan eller Finns det svenskt kaffe på grisfesten (1980) & Snowroller - Sällskapsresan II (1985)) during the 80's and 90's. The character Stig-Helmer Olsson is the epitome of Swedish dullness and strictness, which is somewhat parallel to the character of Stig Helmer as an unsympathetic Swede.
Despite (maybe even because of) his character's Dane-detesting attitude, Ernst-Hugo Järegård (Stig Helmer) became hugely popular in Denmark in the wake of Riget, and was even considered a sex symbol by many Danish women - much to his own surprise.
Lars von Trier says on the DVD that this is an up-to-date Matador (1978), a Danish TV series that ran from 1978-82, depicting life in a small provincial town from the 1920's through to just after the second world war. The series was a huge success, and has become somewhat of an icon.
Ernst-Hugo Järegård (Stig Helmer) never had a driver's license, and only ever drove a car during the shooting of this series.
Among the paraphernalia in Krogshøj (Søren Pilmark)'s (Hook's) den, is a copy of Deep Purple's album "Made In Japan".
The series was edited together into a five-hour film for distribution in the United Kingdom and United States.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Stephen King developed a 13-episode mini-series based on Riget, under the title Kingdom Hospital (2004), which was broadcast in 2004. The plot retained many of the elements of Riget, transferring the location of the hospital to Lewiston, Maine and placing it on the site of a mill built before the Civil War. Many of the characters derived their names from the Danish original (e.g., Sigrid Drusse became Sally Druse and Stig Helmer became Dr. Stegman). A significant difference in the American series was the introduction of a talking giant anteater character in the role of spirit guide/death/Anubis/Antubis.
The series is notable for its wry humor, its muted sepia colour scheme, and the appearance of a chorus of dishwashers with Down Syndrome who discuss in intimate detail the strange occurrences in the hospital.
Awards: 1995 - Bodil Award - Best Actor (Ernst-Hugo Järegård), Best Actress (Kirsten Rolffes), Best Supporting Actor (Holger Juul Hansen), Best Film (Lars von Trier) 1995 - 30th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival - the film was nominated for the Crystal Globe and won the Best Director Award (Lars von Trier), and the Best Actor Award (Ernst-Hugo Järegård) 1995 - Robert Award - Best Actor (Ernst-Hugo Järegård), Best Actress (Kirsten Rolffes), Best Cinematography (Eric Kress), Best Original Score (Joachim Holbek), Best Screenplay (Lars von Trier, Niels Vørsel), Best Sound (Per Streit) 1995 - Seattle International Film Festival - Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film 1996 - Adolf Grimme Award - Series/Miniseries (Lars von Trier) 1996 - Golden Cable - Bronze Cable for Innovation (Lars von Trier)
A third series was planned, but due to the death in 1998 of Ernst-Hugo Järegård (Stig Helmer) and the subsequent death of Kirsten Rolffes (Mrs Drusse) in 2000, the likelihood of a third series was very remote. Lars von Trier actually wrote the third and final season, but the production was not picked up by DR. At that point, five regular cast members had died and it seemed impossible to continue the series. The abandoned scripts were sent to the producers of Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital (2004), but it is unclear whether they used the scripts or not.
"Riget" means "the realm" or "the kingdom", and leads one to think of "dødsriget", the realm of the dead.
Holger Juul Hansen (Einar Moesgaard) & Ghita Nørby (Rigmor Mortensen) also worked together on Matador (1978) as Hans Christian Varnæs & Ingeborg Skjern respectively.
In a list appearing Spectrum issue #22, dated April 2000 of the best TV series of the 1990s, John Thorne ranked this show as #10.
Otto Brandenburg (Hansen) & Jens Okking (Bulder Harly Drusse) also worked together on Bryggeren (1996) as Heinrich & Chresten Jacobsen respectively.
The hypnosis anesthetist was played by real-life (and highly controversial) hypnotist Svend Ali Hamann.
The episode titles' English translations are as follows: Episode 1.1 - The white flock Episode 1.2 - The alliance calls Episode 1.3 - A foreign body Episode 1.4 - The living dead Episode 2.1 - Mom in Tabula Episode 2.2 - Birds of Passage Episode 2.3 - Gargantua Episode 2.4 - Pandemonium
Stellan Skarsgård has appeared in seven of Lars von Trier's features: The Kingdom (1994) Breaking the Waves (1996) Dancer in the Dark (2000) Dogville (2003) Melancholia (2011) Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013) Nymphomaniac: Vol. II (2013)
The series is available on DVD in Australia and New Zealand on Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label, in the UK from Second Sight, and in the United States from Koch-Lorber Films.
The episodes were released with the English titles as follows: Episode 1.1 - The Unheavenly Host Episode 1.2 - Thy Kingdom Come Episode 1.3 - A Foreign Body Episode 1.4 - The Living Dead Episode 2.1 - Death on the Operation Table Episode 2.2 - Birds of Passage Episode 2.3 - Gargantua Episode 2.4 - Pandæmonium
Acclaimed film critic/historian Leonard Maltin compared this series to a mixture of Twin Peaks and Emergency Room.