Television [La Televisione/Il TiVo]

by Luke Archer

I am (was) quite the expert on British television, devoting many hours to the pursuit of academic enlightenment that it offers. Partly true. With regards to the hours devoted anyway. But, Italian TV makes my poor TV taste look positively erudite.

Unfortunately for me, out of the two no-go programmes in my viewing repertoire, one of them, Deal or no Deal, is in Italy. And it has been Italianised. Affari Tuoi [Your Business] is complete with animations, sound effects, music and a bigger – 500,000 euro – prize. It puts our deranged, symbol-drawing cultist Noel to shame. If you are interested, my other no-go programme is Coronation Street; I can feel the insidious theme tune depleting my serotonin levels. Woe betide me if I get a view of the Rovers. (Yes I know what it’s called. No, I don’t know how).

Topping the leaderboard of craziest programme I have come across so far is Le Iene [The Hyenas]. Half hard-hitting investigative journalism and half comedy, with intermittent dancing throughout. It seems to be on quite regularly and the first show I watched had an actress pretending to be a destitute mother who – with the pretence of having a young daughter she wished to profit from – lured a paedophile from a chatroom. There then followed some truly repugnant conversation, during which the actress (testament to her) sat feigning nonchalance as the man informed her of the various ‘methods’ he used. I know there is a similar American programme, but this one was so, so dark – until at the end the TV presenter just struts in casually (whilst the paedophile is waiting for the ‘daughter’ to appear). Game Over. There wasn’t even a dramatic arrest, the guy, after defeatedly saying “no, no, we’re just friends”, just handed himself in.

Weirder, though, was the fact that without even a fleeting outro the viewers were greeted with this on return to the studio:

For better or worse, it does make compelling viewing, and Le Iene do have some serious balls. One of their shows, for example, was cancelled because they had someone masquerade as a TV make-up artist who, whilst pampering, took DNA samples from 50 Italian deputies and secretly tested them for drugs. A third of them, incidentally, had taken drugs in the previous 36 hours.

Watching this will really make your eyes go square.

P.S. I forgot to mention that post-rebelling against paying for the Italian version of a TV license, because of all the adverts (there are a lot), the government decided to tax everyone per television. I will not ever complain about paying my UK TV license bill again.