I wrote a bit about the wonder that is Italian TV when we were last her. I’m delighted to say that in the intervening year it hasn’t improved uno jotto. They’ve now discovered X Factor. The good news is that Simon big pants Cowell doesn’t feature on it. He’s probably earning a grande wedge all the same but it is a relief to be spared his criticisms of the no-hope half-wits, who instead get to present the programme over here. There’s the mumsy Sharon equivalent who looks like one of the check-out ladies at Tesco’s and the camp guy with very strange hair and the vocal trainer who look like he shouldn’t be allowed near children’s playgrounds. Check out a couple of them :
What else? Oh they just can’t do decent comedy over here. They love knock about stuff and over-act like crazy in an attempt to look zany and therefore funny. It’s about as funny as watching a farce or, when it’s at its best, pantomine. Get the picture? I’m not sure they could watch Extras or The Office and find it the least bit funny.
But the most interesting feature of Italian TV is the way most programmes are presented; there’s usually the most attractive and glamorously dressed female presenter (even for humble football programmes) assisted by pretty ordinary-looking fat middle-aged guy, who looks like a supporting character from the Sopranos. Almost every light entertainment programme follows this format (it’s as if they’ve been charmed by the grisly Bruce Forsyth/Tess Daly combo). One of the most popular guys on the box is Gerry Scotti who presents the local equivalent of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire plus it seems several other programmes including la Corrida and Striscia something. He’s an avuncular character, very likeable but he’s not what you’d call an Italian stallion. He’s also 4 years younger than me, so how old must I look?
The interesting thing is that in the middle of WWTBAM he personally features in all the ads for the programmes sponsors’ products. Whereas Chris Tarrant scoffs at rubbish ads from overseas, this guy stars in them. But what about the female presenters I can sense you asking. Well for starters this is Magda Gomes who helps present one of the zany (rubbish) football shows:
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It’s not like watching Mark Lawrenson is it?
We get the BBC TV’s World service here, a part of the BBC empire which flies in the face of normal recruitment policy on the higher-profile channels by selecting the female presenters purely on their journalistic skills (and rightly so you might say). But there’s talent and looks and in celebrity newscasterland the World service is the glamorous equivalent of being sent to one of the Gulags.
In Italy the selection criteria is a little different. Sky run a 24 hour news headlines service called TG24. It’s a sort of test channel I think and must be one of the least watched of all their channels yet check out two of their presenters, Raffaella Cesaroni and Caterina Baldini:
I have to tell you that the news (even in Italian) is altogether more palatable each morning. Heaven only knows how they justify the selection policy but who cares? I know I’m shallow…but every programme’s the same. I blame the pasta.