9 February 2012

Montalbano on the BBC

Ragusa Ibla , a view frequently used in Montalbano
The BBC's decision to show an entire series of the detective drama Inspector Montalbano is great news for lovers of the programme, as well as for lovers of Sicily. Based on the colourful novels of  Andrea Camilleri, the RAI TV series Il Commissario Montalbano is hugely popular in Italy and has already been exported to other countries around the world. You can buy DVDs on Amazon with English subtitles produced for the US and Australia. The BBC has already showed two episodes in the past year, to whet viewers' appetites.

The TV series is filmed around south-eastern Sicily, mostly in the Baroque towns listed by UNESCO.   Principal filming locations include Ragusa, Scicli and Modica. These are picturesque small towns which show the very best of Sicily, and it is no wonder that the TV series has encouraged tourism in the region.  I toured the area last year and you come across Montalbano wherever you go - take-aways advertising the 'arancini of Montalbano', photographs of actor Luca Zingaretti and occasionally an official information board describing a film location. When we saw some filming in Scicli, we were thrilled, then disappointed to learn it wasn't for new Montalbano.

The detective drama is highly entertaining, with lots of colourful Sicilian characters, local dialect, beautiful scenery and convoluted plots. Like the original novels, the TV series captures the infuriating and bizarre aspects of Italian - and Sicilian - culture. From Montalbano's love of food  - check out the meals he enjoys alone at home - to the perpetually unfaithful spouses, the predatory women, corrupt politicians and incompetent professionals, this is an Italy which will be familiar to everyone who knows the country.  Some of the characters and situations are so hilarious you'd think they must be exaggerated... but perhaps not. Frequently the detective and his team are left with  'the Mafia' as the opposing, faceless protagonist. Montalbano is a decent man who sees the best and worst of his fellow Sicilians as he investigates baffling crimes, and makes excuses on the phone to his long-distance girlfriend Livia. Through his eyes the viewer can really enjoy the breadth, drama and humour of Sicilian life.

Shop sign in Modica
You can watch the first episode of Inspector Montalbano on BBC4 on Saturday 11th February 2012, and again on Wednesday 15th. DVDs are also available on Amazon.co.uk, as are the original novels by Andrea Camilleri.

Pour yourself a glass of Nero d'Avola, enjoy the TV show, and maybe you'll start daydreaming about a holiday in Montalbano territory.

> Montalbano locations in Sicily

> Ragusa
> Scicli
> Noto
> Siracusa


Anonymous said...

Wonderful programme cleverly done with good plots and scenery

more please?

angela2343 said...

Watched the last episode last night and am gutted it's over! I can only hope the BBC will be persuaded to show another series, if there is one. I just loved the scenery (never been to Sicily but encouraged to go now) the humour, the food, and Luca Zangaretti's acting ability - great and unusual television.

Robin Hood said...

Have only just stumbled across this old website - I do speak Italian fairly 'fluidly' as opposed to fluently of course, but, quite apart from the essential aid to partial deafness, the good Sub-Titling vastly enriched my viewing of the most enjoyable & original detective series 'ever' anywhere.

[Ironic to reflect so many Sicilians emigrated to the USofA which is unarguably responsible for all that's worst in the corrosivity of tv.

Having camped for several months 15 yrs ago in Sicily, I can confirm the recent press & poster advertising campaign lives up to its promises. The many Sicilians I've encountered there (and elsewhere in Italy - and London) have been without exception helpful & friendly. I'm glad for the Island that they're benefiting from the antics of Salvo, Mimi, Catarella and the many 'unsung' but utterly convincing other actors - They do so deserve it.

PS Well done indeed,Beeb TV, world-beating exporter, for importing this worthy pearl of a series. And now for doing the same with "Commissario di Luca" - a different character of course, and episodes serious as well as deadly, but still magnetic viewing, especially for italianophiles - another decent, professional cop trying to do his often controversial job against the background of Mussolini's fascism.