BBC4: Inspector Montalbano returns!

This Saturday, following the end of the excellent Danish political thriller Borgen, BBC4 returns to international crime in the shape of Andrea Camilleri’s The Snack Thief, starring Sicily’s Commissario Salvo Montalbano.

I’ve had my differences with the Camilleri novels in the past due to their rather dated representation of women (see my review of The Terracotta Dog), and have to confess that I haven’t got on particularly well with the TV adaptation either (is it just me or has some of the novels’ humour been lost?). But I know there are lots of fans out there who will be delighted to see Montalbano back on our screens in the form of actor Luca Zingaretti. This episode was the first to be made back in 1999, and has not yet been aired in the UK.

Montalbano (second from left) and his handsome team

If I had the chance, I would definitely sneak a peek at Camilleri’s Sicily, if only to escape our current cold-snap. But by the time the episode airs, I will be in an even chillier Berlin, where I’m lucky enough to be spending the week. Tschüss for now!

The Snack Thief airs on Saturday 11 February at 9pm.

UPDATE: Series 2 of Montalbano (12 episodes) will begin on BBC4 on Saturday 25 August 2012 at 9pm. See The Radio Times for further details. With thanks to Rhian for alerting me to this information 🙂

20 thoughts on “BBC4: Inspector Montalbano returns!

  1. The actor does not look a bit like the real Montalbano does he? 😉

    Interesting article to which you link at The Labourist (sorry, Labour List). I saw A Very British Coup when it first came out and I remember the euphoria everyone used to so many years of Thatcher felt when they saw it – that scene of Ray McAnally getting off the bus to go to Downing St!

    But – what planet do those commenters at The Labour List live on? Planet Labour I assume, How scary. None of them is interested in Borgen at all, only in making petty political points and anti-Blair ones mostly, as is so fashionable in the Labour party (“we had a successful leader, let’s slag him off”). Makes you despair actually, given that the coalition is so feeble, it would not take much to rise above it.

    • The Radio Times article reckons he looks a bit like Ross Kemp, and I think that’s spot on!

      Interesting take on the Labour List article! I didn’t think it was all *that* bad, but it’s certainly fascinating to see how politicos view the series and how their reactions are refracted through their own experience. He’s right about the way viewers react to Birgitte though – I would certainly vote for her to be in charge of the planet.

  2. I give 3 cheers to see Montalbano’s imminent return. I’ve seen 2 previous episodes of the series before and enjoyed them. I’ve also read some of Camilleri’s novels and speaking from personal experience the attitudes towards women may ring a little in our ears but they aren’t far from the truth in present day Sicily, or Crete either !

  3. Mrs P,

    I’m with you on the attitude towards women, it’s not been ideal to date, but I suspect that you’ll find a little more to admire in the latest four films. Let’s see.

    As to the humour, I beg to disagree. These are the funniest of the series to date, and there’s also a nice sense of melancholy. Yes, the Catarella slapstick can be tedious at times, but there’s new subtlety herin. At least, I think so.

    Look forward to your review after screening them.

    • Oh good – I’m really glad to hear your more positive view of these adaptations, and will watch with interest. Capturing the humour seems especially important, as this is one of the most enjoyable things about the series. I’ll look forward to tucking in once I’m back from my trip.

  4. I am green with envy that Inspector Montalbano comes to tv in Britain. Oh, how I wish that were so over here in the States. No network seems interested in doing this. If only we could view BBC4 here.
    However, I may end up having to purchase some of the episodes that are available here from Italian TV with subtitles.
    Yes, I cringe a bit when reading about the attitude towards women — and I don’t lend these books to every woman reader I know — but the books are so much fun anyway. I laugh and think of myself in Vigata on the beach with a glass of white wine either before or after a meal of pasta and seafood.
    This attitude towards women in crime fiction seems to be a staple of Italian male writers. Yet in society women work, are active everywhere and make their opinions known on every issue. So, somehow the writers (except women like Donna Leon) are behind the times, I think.

    • Comments like yours make me really appreciate how lucky we are to have BBC4 – long may its current run of international crime programming continue! That Saturday 9-11 slot is pretty much all I watch these days, and it’s a lovely weekly treat.

      Italy + beach + glass of white wine + delicious Italian meal. Now that’s an image worth savouring.

      We had an extended debate on representations of women in Italian crime fiction in the comments section of the Varesi’s River of Shadows post, (as you will know, as you took part in it!). In any case, I’ll try to approach the adaptations with an open mind, and take them on their own terms.

  5. I don’t find Camilleri/women as bad as other Italian writers (including female ones, eg that dreadful Girl with the Crystal Eyes by Barbara Baraldi). Camilleri’s books are just so good-hearted, you can forgive him anything (well, I can). And frankly I would rather him than the extreme end of political correctness as displayed in Donna Leon (though her books are OK, I just dislike this Amercian (?) habit of presenting characters to represent the virtues of the author’s own socio-political views). I find the sexist approach harder to forgive in some of the less “charming” male Italian authors, or the ones who make it obvious they approve of practices that I abhor (won’t bang on about it again as I’ve done so too often I know).

    BTW sorry about that Labourlist/commenting comment – I realise they are just in their own little world as I am sure we book bloggers are in ours……should not have been so upfront about them. I suppose I often find it odd how much hatred the labour party has for Blair given that he’s their most successful politician ever (well, in living memory). Seems like someone is not adding two and two, from the outside 😉 But you are right, the comments were pretty mild and I should have not “said” anything as what do I know?

    • I’ve yet to read the Baraldi, and must do so – I’ve heard a number of intriguing comments, though they suggest it might be an uncomfortable read.

      Interesting point on Camilleri vs Leon (and thus also Italian vs American writing), which also links back to our discussions on the Finland post. Hmmm. Presenting characters who represent the virtues of the author’s socio-political views: this makes me think of some Scandinavian writing such as Sjowall/Wahloo and Mankell – but maybe some authors are just better at weaving their world-view into their narratives than others?

      Please don’t apologise for the Labour List comment – I love hearing your ‘upfront’ views; please keep them coming!

      • Right, dear friends, I had better stop commenting and get on with packing for Berlin! I’ll be out of range for most of this coming week, so please forgive any radio silence if you leave a comment. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can on my return 🙂

  6. I like Camilerri, Montalbano and his team. I laugh a lot. I don’t hold his ideas about women as any reason not to enjoy the books. I just can’t loan them to every woman reader I know. When I need a few days to relax and unwind, Montalbano is an old favorite companion.
    And I do like Donna Leon and her views are fine with me. I don’t feel like she overdoes it.
    The thing is that books fit many moods, and their variety is the spice of life.
    I think I’ll skip the Baraldi book as I surely don’t like reading sexist viewpoints no matter who writes about them.
    There are women authors in the States whose books I will not read due to the brutality, gore, violence against women, body counts, etc.

    • Thanks, Kathy. I know exactly what you mean about books fitting moods, and you’re quite right: we’re lucky to have so much variety within the genre of crime writing. I often feel spoiled for choice! I’ve just finished Peter Temple’s first Jack Irish novel, Bad Debts, and it’s turned out to be the perfect travel read here in Berlin.

  7. Ironically, well a little, I watched an episode on the weekend, and found it disgracefully sexist, so apologies for the above comment. My memory playing tricks, though I do recall that at least two of the films feature wonderfully strong female characters, certainly a change in direction for Montalbano!

    How’s the weather Mrs P? I’ve heard that it’s nought to be sneezed at!

    • That’s made me laugh – memory is a funny thing 🙂 The weather here has been bracingly cold, with a bit of snow, and I’ve been warmly bundled up at all times. All fine until taking photos necessitates removing a glove: hands become like ice blocks in under a minute. That said, it’s been milder today…

  8. I love Inspector Montalbano! After BBC4 aired a couple of episodes I prayed they’d do a whole run and I don’t even believe in god.
    It works for me mainly because of the main star’s charisma and the funny cop at the front desk.
    Also, it is the yin to Wallander’s yang.
    I haven’t read other people’s posts properly but I scanned the word sexist a few times. In my head I swore. Like there isn’t enough female-friendly TV?
    We hear from very vocal whingers all the time about how there isn’t enough TV for old people, young people or women. Check the listings…
    BTW, people who randomly bring politics into a topic should be shot in front of their family 🙂

    • Ah well, guilty as charged (to some degree at least…). I like the idea of M bring the ying to the yang of W (and ooh, look at the neat visual inversion of the two letters). I’ll bear this in mind when I watch 🙂

  9. Well, if books bring in political issues or attitudes that some readers find objectionable, it affects our reading of them, certainly the enjoyment. So readers have a right and sometimes a responsibility to bring them into discussion. If it impacts on our reading, it’s almost impossible to leave them out. Most of us read mysteries and see not only the crime plots but look at the overall book and what the author is saying. People have more or less tolerance of the author’s attitudes and points of view.
    It’s natural to discuss them, and, thankfully, there are many blogs where this can openly be done. Discussion of all issues is healthy. Stifling them is not.

    • Definitely, Kathy. There has been many a lively discussions of such issues already on this blog and hopefully there are many more to come!

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