Despite (maybe even because of) his character's Dane-detesting attitude, Ernst-Hugo Järegård 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, 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.
The character name Stig Helmer, 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" 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.
The large factory-like building that Dr. Helmer 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.