The Young Montalbano is on his way…Saturday 7 September 2013 on BBC4

I know many UK viewers have been keen to find out when The Young Montalbano starts on BBC4. The answer is this Saturday, 7 September, from 9.00 to 11.00pm.

The six-part prequel to the much-loved Montalbano TV series is set in the 1990s, with Michele Riondino in the role of the younger detective. In it we will see some of the early cases that forged Montalbano’s investigative skills … and apparently led to the loss of those luscious locks (now you see them, now you don’t).

 

The Young Montalbano has already successfully aired in Italy (RAI channel), and in the States (MHz network). The blurb to accompany the series on the latter’s webpage reads as follows:

>> Before Detective Salvo Montalbano became the seasoned and mature chief detective we already know, he was just Salvo, new to Vigata and new to being a police chief.  He didn’t always live in that glorious house by the sea, or have Deputy Chief Mimi Augello as a best friend, or Fazio as a loyal assistant. He didn’t always go out with the beautiful Genoese architect, Livia Burlando. Perhaps the only constants have been his unbridled quest for good food and the inability of his overly enthusiastic deputy, Catarella, to pronounce anyone’s name correctly. In this prequel series to Detective Montalbano, watch the genesis of the friendships, the rivalries and the romance as the players arrive to take their places in the beautiful Sicilian town of Vigata. Savour these stories that set the stage for the group’s transformation from rookie cops to the experienced crime-solving ensemble we’ve come to know and love.<<

The Young Montalbano actors with Montalbano author Andrea Camilleri (centre)

The first episode sees Montalbano arrive in Vigata and investigate an attempted murder.  A certain Andrea Camilleri is listed as one of its writers.

Further details are available in The Radio Times online.

VERDICT (avoiding spoilers): Well, I really enjoyed that! I’ve only seen a few episodes from the ‘later’ Montalbano series, and think this relatively limited exposure allowed me to go with the flow of the prequel without having to compare and contrast too much. I know many viewers are highly attached to Luca Zingaretti’s Montalbano, and that it must be quite strange to see someone else in his shoes, but I thought Riondino was very assured in the central role, and that there were some strong performances throughout. The tone also felt true to the later series. A good, confident start and I’ll definitely be watching again. Catch it on iPlayer over the next two weeks if you missed it!

If any of you are wondering who sang the two wonderful theme tunes at the beginning and end of the episode - it was Olivia Sellerio and you can listen to both on YouTube:

Opening track – ‘Curri curri’

Closing track – ‘Vuci mia canntanu vai’ (loved this in particular)

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88 Responses to The Young Montalbano is on his way…Saturday 7 September 2013 on BBC4

  1. Blighty says:

    Hmm, I prefer the older version, and how come his face got fuller with age, the young M has a much thinner face? They should have asked me to do the casting, it would have been very hard looking at lots of handsome young Italians but I would have soldiered on..

    • Mrs P. says:

      I have always fancied you as the dutiful type who would take on the jobs that no one else wanted…

      I’m going to *try* to come to the series with fresh eyes. I haven’t watched too many episodes with the older M, so perhaps that will make it easier. Young M has been pretty well received, so I’m hopeful that it will be good.

    • The older one is much better, younger one not good looking enough to play him!!!!!

      • Jean Goddard says:

        Pauline I love them both – older and younger. I wish the older Mimi could lose the moustache. The big question is why Montalbano never married Livia. Perhaps we will learn that in a future series of the young Montalbano.

  2. I do actually like this prequel quite a lot (especially as I am usually not a fan or sequels, reboots et al) even though Catarella is perhaps too buffoonish here. Along with ENDEAVOUR it’s one of the examples that I think work very well, especially for the casting of the young lead – and at least it continues to be based on Camilleri’s work, which is a real bonus. Incidentally, it is being released on DVD in the UK (it’s already out in Italy) in October after the end of the series.

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks, Sergio – I’d forgotten about Endeavour. You’re right, that’s a good example of one that worked out well. And thanks for the news about the DVD release too.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the prequel. I’m looking forward to seeing the first episode on Saturday. I know what you mean about Catarella. I sometimes felt that his character was a bit over-egged in the novels; it’s easy to tip over into parody with a figure like that.

  3. MarinaSofia says:

    Look forward to this one. Some series do get it wrong and play too much on a viewer’s affection for a certain character, but I’m always ready to give it a chance.

  4. kathy.p says:

    At last. I’ve been waiting for this series to make an appearance. Will there be any more of the ‘older’ version to hit our screens I wonder….

  5. Pingback: International crime drama news from BBC4: Dahl, De Luca, Young Montalbano, The Bridge 2 and more! | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

  6. Sara says:

    Hi Mrs P! :-)
    I think many people in Italy were a bit sceptical about Riondino’s version, my family included. But after watching it, I have to say I quite liked it. Finding someone that matches exactly Zingaretti (physically and in terms of acting style) wasn’t an easy task, I suppose. The same can be said of the other characters: Fazio, Mimí, Catarella and so on… The problem, I believe, is that Zingaretti’s Montalbano is so unique that any prequel/sequel/other-version can’t really compare. I think overall the results is pretty good. I think Fazio’s character was particularly well cast.
    I eventually decided to buy the dvd boxset when I was in Italy (the dvds were released weekly at newsagents) and I will certainly enjoy re-watching the episodes on the BBC now in the UK :-)

    PS: on a funny note, I think the only physical feature Zingaretti and Riondino have in common is the extremely bowed legs.

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks, Sara – it’s good to have an Italian perspective. Perhaps the best thing is not to think too much about the older version when watching (if possible) – just let it float away to the outer edges of memory so that the prequel has a chance to work in its own right.

      Yes, the casting process must have been a tricky one – but I bet that after watching a little while, you get used to the ‘other’ face and stop thinking about it. The bowed legs are a nice touch of continuity!

      I feel a little for the actor playing the younger M – he must have felt quite a lot of pressure at the time.

      • Sara says:

        Yes, exactly. Just don’t make comparisons and it becomes very enjoyable indeed.
        I feel like there a lot more people who have watched the series with Zingaretti, than people who have read the books and watched the series too, preferably in this order ;-)

        When it comes to portraying a younger Montalbano, Zingaretti couldn’t do it, obviously (and the idea of Zingaretti wearing a wig makes me cringe). So the risk of viewers comparing the actors was inevitable. I’m sure everyone in the cast did their best. I’ve seen Riondino in other works and he’s a talented young actor (I quite liked “Dieci Inverni”), so I think he was a good choice.

        Another funny thing for the “Useless Montalbano Trivia” section: neither of the actors are Sicilian. Zingaretti is from Rome and Riondino from Taranto, Puglia. Impressive job, both of them, on “faking” the Sicilian accent!
        That’s it, from the Fountain of Useless Information.
        At your service.

      • Mrs P. says:

        That’s really interesting, Sara – thanks and do continue to feed us more info. It’s all good :)

  7. kathy d. says:

    I’m going to go all out here and say that I loved the younger Montalbano. It’s dramatic, loud, spirited and energetic, without nastiness or cynicism. Also, the young detective is still in the pre-curmudgeon years and so cases and suspects are new and fresh to him. He’s curious and full of questions and learning a lot of new things. He’s not jaded yet.
    Also, as a woman friend of mine said — “he’s a lot cuter than the older version.” I concur with her judgment. And so are the other young actors.
    I say this as someone who rushes to read each new book and enjoys them.

    • Mrs P. says:

      That sounds great to me, Kathy. I’m all in favour of these kinds of reboots as they often refresh ‘older institutions’ very effectively. Sherlock and Dr. Who are good examples in the context of UK TV. Cuteness factor also important!

      • Sara says:

        I’m all for cuteness too! :-)
        Very good point about Montalbano’s attitude to things and life in general. That’s why I liked the Young Montalbano series.

        Re. Reboots
        I suspect Ben Affleck is going to have a hard time too, with the new Batman. The same happened with James Bond, Star Wars, [name random superhero here] and so on…

      • Mrs P. says:

        Yes, it’s a risky endeavour. But when it does come off it’s very satisfying. By the way, I loved the James Bond reboot – thought Casino Royale was great, though the second one less so.

  8. kathy d. says:

    I don’t think comparing the two series really matters. Enjoying each for what they are does. They are different; youth brings its own energy and freshness to each investigation.
    I hope more young Montalbano episodes are made. This is a series I’ll watch again.
    One thing is both series are loud with a lot of yelling. This is in contrast with some Scandinavian TV series, such as Irene Huss, where there is relatively little yelling, a lot of discussions, even at home with the teenagers.
    Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys this and look forward to the reports.

  9. John Ormerod says:

    In the books, (the older) Montalbano still has his hair – as can be read when he is looking in the mirror for signs of ageing. So, to be accutate, Zingaretti should have always worn a wig.

  10. Jean Goddard says:

    Loved the young montalbano. It has brightened up Saturday evenings for me. Pity only a few episodes. The young montalbano has captured the essence of the older one.

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jean – now that the nights are drawing in we’ll appreciate the warmth of Italy all the more. Looking forward to the next episode already.

  11. kathy d. says:

    So the young Montalbano was a hit? Have been waiting to read the opinions.
    I love these episodes and may undertake a second viewing.

    • Mrs P. says:

      I think so, Kathy. My Young Montalbano post certainly had lots of interest (it received the largest number of hits that I’ve ever seen on a TV post, outdoing even The Killing). But the first episodes were scheduled at the same time as the annual Last Night of the Proms, and I have the feeling that lots of people here recorded and watched later – so perhaps not quite as many comments as I would have expected. Those that have really did seem to like it though!

  12. Susan Dorney says:

    I really enjoyed the first episode on Saturday. It will be interesting to see the other characters over the next few weeks. Loved the fact that the ‘young one’ doesn’t like to talk and eat at the same time just like our older one.

  13. kathy d. says:

    These Italian detectives believe that enjoying their pesce and pasta transcends all other experiences; they must concentrate to fully savor their meals. Nothing so distracting as talking should interfere with the pleasure of eating. (And if I were eating these meals in Italy, I’d probably want to devote 100% of my attention to them, too.)
    Now, the Falier/Brunetti household includes children and conversation is necessary during their excellent meals, but Montalbano has no responsibilities like the Venetian detective. So he can establish his own gourmet habits by himself and intimidate those around him into following his directives. Such a curmudgeon!

  14. Susan Dorney says:

    Chatting to a friend this morning we have decided the best part of YM was when he was
    strolling with his girlfriend and saw the house, shuttered up, and was interested in it. How
    long we reckoned before YM was swimming in the sea to his, goosepimples!!!

  15. Susan Dorney says:

    should have read ‘swimming in the sea towards his house’ oops !!

  16. fadedglories says:

    I’ve now seen the first two episodes of ‘Young Montalbano’ and I love it. I think the casting is great and knowing Camilleri’s version of the older Montalbano I think this younger self is in keeping with his portrayal.
    I just love the setting chosen by RAI for the Montalbano films. I get all nostalgic as soon as I see the house on the beach. I’m sure there will be some interesting developments.

  17. kathy d. says:

    Yippee! More fans of the “Young Montalbano.” I love that series, and now that it’s mentioned, the house and the beach. I wish more episodes would be produced — or I will be forced (sigh) to rewatch all of the existing episodes.

  18. Lisa says:

    I am a big fan of the older Inspector Montalbano (have Sky+ them all for a rainy day) and was very much looking forward to YM. I knew a while ago there was a Young Montalbano as when I told an Italian friend that I was watching Montalbano he asked me if it was the ‘old, fat, bald one’ or the young one with hair so I got a bit excited knowing there was a younger one with hair!

    I think the casting has been excellent (although young Caterella is a bit tall). I think Riondino has the mannerisms of the older Montalbano down to perfection and I think with his love of good food it would be quite in order for him to have filled out a bit.

    So am enjoying the warmer climate and humour of this Italian crime until the winter when the darker Scandinavian crime will do very nicely.

    • Mrs P. says:

      The old, fat, bald one! I bet Luca fans would not be impressed. Very droll.

      So far, no one seems to have disliked YM or felt that it violated the first adaptation. That’s pretty good going considering how highly regarded and loved the older Montalbano has been down the years.

      I’m enjoying the gentler feel and pace of the series too. Not quite ready for Scandi noir yet.

  19. Karen says:

    Loving TYM!! Having watched the previous Inspector Montalbano programmes I was keen to see how The Young Montalbano came across. I think the casting of Michele Riondino is spot on and certainly worth staying in on a Saturday night for. Strangely enough I’m watching again on IPlayer. Wonder what that’s all about! More of Michele please!

  20. kathy d. says:

    Definitely more of Michele! I wish that more of the Younger Montalbano will be produced and available. Not only rewatching, but I may have to purchase the episodes! (Hide the credit card again.)
    Several women friends “of a certain age” love this series, not only Michele Riondino but the young Mimi Augello and other cast members as well.
    I wonder if a petition campaign would convince the producers to continue the series if the author concurs! And I wonder how Italian Montalbano lovers are taking this series.

  21. kathy.p says:

    Well I am very impressed with the YM, and the fact that the characters in the ‘older’ version are also shown growing into their older selves as well. Catarella is as daft as a brush in both, and I spotted the young Fazio immediately, and guessed that the guy eyeing up the girls right at the beginning of last nights episode could only be Mimi. I can see Riondino morphing into Luca Zingaretti quite easily, but I can’t as John Ormerod said, see Luca Zingaretti wearing a wig and the thought really made me LOL. Am looking forward to the last three….

  22. Paul says:

    I tuned into the Young Montalbano skepticism but, I was pleasantly surprised by the casting. Michele Riondino is exactly right for the young Montalbano and I love the young Catterella. I never thought that anyone else could play the young Caterella so perfectly.

    The “First Case,” was a brilliant episode and one of the best films I have seen in years. I found episodes 2 and 3 a little disappointing after the first. Then I realised why: it was Valentina D’Agostino as Viola who stole the show in the first episode. Her acting was amazing, deep, powerful and poignant. Especially where she described her rape to Montalbano.

    Looking forward to episode four.

    Paul

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks, Paul. I totally agree with you about Viola in episode 1. The scene you mention was outstanding. Mimi’s arrival has seen a rather more stereotypical representation of women emerge (the vampish Italian woman played up for comedic effect), which I’m not sure I like – but overall still enjoying very much.

  23. JazzyCaz says:

    Oh Mrs P how can I properly appraise this series, when I have so many unchaste thoughts about YM?

  24. from 2 pensioners (female) – just loving, swooning, as usual, over montalbano, young or old. love everything about the series.and my Italian is improving……

    • Mrs P. says:

      Excellent to hear, Colleen, and if your Italian is improving along the way, then so much the better. I’m working on the gestures as well at the moment…lots of fun to be had there.

  25. monica says:

    my daughter and I loved salvo and his crew, I find this new series a bit like crime by number and catterella is way over the top. I can see they are all good actors, but still miss salvo all the more

    • Mrs P. says:

      I’m not surprised to find that some Salvo fans are having ‘adjustment issues’, Monica. It must be very odd to travel right back to the start of things when you’ve already seen what’s a few years down the road. I can imagine that it all seems quite familiar but also utterly strange!

  26. Paul says:

    Well, the way the ladies are swooning over Salvo, I wish I looked like him, young or old. On a more serious note, if you read the excellent books, you will find that Catterella as a character, actually gets dafter as the books go on.
    In the early books, he isn’t as clumsy and his speech is more intelligible. The later books have him speaking a kind of pigeon Italian – a cross between colloquial Sicilian, Sicilian and Italian. Read the books, they’re great.

    My favorite character (besides Zingeretti), is Livia. What man could live with her!

    Paul.

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks, Paul. That’s an interesting point about the development of Catarella’s character in the novels.

      I had to laugh at your last comment. I’ve had exactly the same thought about Montalbano. Impossible behaviour!

    • Paul says:

      Concerning Catterella: of course many viewers will be thinking, how on earth did he get a job as a policeman.
      Well, the answer is simple, Cat’s uncle is an influential politician, who pulled strings to get him the job.
      I think, from memory, it was mentioned in the book, “The Terracotta Dog.”

      From the same book, from the mouth of Montalbano, comes the most foul, blasphemous expletive imaginable. And in front of Livia!
      In such a devout Catholic country, i am surprised Andrea Camilleri dared to write it.

      I am still laughing 3 months after reading it.

      Paul

  27. Darchy says:

    I truly love these series of Older and Younger Montalbano. I hope that many more are in the pipeline. Entertainment of this quality is rare, even when it’s not in my native tongue.

    • Mrs P. says:

      Ah, that’s the lovely thing about discovering quality foreign drama – there are so many new goodies waiting out there for you!

      • Darchy says:

        Indeed there are! Also becoming an avid fan of the Swedish ‘Wallender’ and the French crime drama ‘Spiral’.

  28. JazzyCaz says:

    Hi Mrs P. Episode 5 had cruelty, humour, love and friendship. It was great, I hope you enjoyed it too. YM,s gorgeous smile lives long in my head! By the way, how are your ‘gestures’ coming along?

    • Mrs P. says:

      I did indeed, and the gestures are coming along nicely. I sit on the sofa and copy them as the programme unfolds. Haven’t practiced them in public yet though…

  29. Vicki says:

    We love both Young Montalbano and Inspector Montalbano and visited Schicli and Ragusa last May. It was fascinating to see all the locations, especially as there are loads of location stands in the area detailing which particular scene was filmed there. We were delighted to find that most of the tourists in Schicli were there because of the series. We have great fun identifying the spots that we recognise and we recommend others to visit this wonderful part of Sicily. The books are great too and the dialogue is just as enjoyable as in the television programmes. The actors in both series are delicious. My Italian isn’t brilliant but I can follow some of the original language which is more than I can say for the Nordic thrillers.

    • Mrs P. says:

      That sounds like a truly wonderful trip, Vicki. It won’t be long before we can hop all around Europe on crime tours. I’m keen to visit Wallander country, but a spot of Montalbano in Sicily sounds very enticing too.

  30. I have fallen into a daily languid routine of a glass of two of village wine at 4 pm (I live in a medieval village, Castillon du Gard to the West of the Rhone) plus a pre-recorded episode of Young Inspector Morsetalbano. I confess that the old and young Montalbano had passed me by till now. But here I am, 3 years into living in France and although I got German up to my English standard, I’m nowhere near there yet with French, yet I now realise, Italian is at least 33% French, d’accord? so by the end, I shall be able to hopefully watch without subtitles and speak both French & Italian better. In the meantime, who could not watch this for the sheer architecture and the ‘Allo ‘Allo switchboard cop caricature. I have to say I effing “hate” his beach verandah — yet so pleased to hear him in Italian call it a verandah, so we have abandoned calling our new one a pretentious loggia. And he has such ugly girl friends, *cough*. I wish the subtitles would call his fav fish red mullet and not just mullet. Rouget they call it here and I love it.

    Anyone wondering how thin faced young Montalbana could turn into the chubbier faced (he’s not tho) older Montalbano, should compare the Young Jimmy Greaves who scored goals for England with the Older Jimmy Greaves who tried to talk about others scoring goals.

    I have an awful feeling that ‘Er outside on the verandah, who has a Kindle stuffed with Montalbano books, will be enticing me to watch a lot more, with a glass of village wine or two.

    • Mrs P. says:

      Hello Robin – I read your comment just after filling out some lengthy academic proformas, and had a large-ish twinge of jealousy at the description of your pleasant afternoon routine. Sounds idyllic. And if you improve your Italian by watching Montalbano, then at least you can argue that there’s an educative dimension to your wine consumption. All power to you and enjoy!

  31. Keith Fricker says:

    A lot of the typical “fan” worship in these blogs – but no one mentions the continental style of film making in both of the Montalbano series.. The exotic locations, the leisurely pace of the story telling is a refreshing change from the whizz bang pace of the American cop shows. O.k. some might say that nearly 2 hours to tell each story is something approaching the technique used in the Midsomer series (which I avoid like the plague) but Vigata and its characters make refreshing viewing at a pace that allows all of the players to express their nature and lifestyle. Young and Oldder Salvo and his colleagues has been a welcome slice of Saturday night entertainment and I look forward to more of either, or both as the case may be.

    • Mrs P. says:

      We plead guilty to the fan worship in this instance, Keith – we are unashamedly fans!

      But yes, you raise an interesting point about the more leisurely pace of these episodes: a whole two hours in which to accompany Montalbano through an investigation and a few meals…

      There are German adaptations that have a similar pace (e.g. adaptations of the Donna Leon novels), and I’m trying to remember what length the various Wallader adaptations have been – in my memory some of these have been feature-length too. I do like the two hour slot myself – you have the time to immerse yourself completely in that other world.

  32. Vicki says:

    oops have to correct my typo. It is Scicli not Schicli. For 2 euros we were given a guided tour of the municipal building in Scicli, which doubles as the police station by two enthusiastic young guides. We love the Swedish versions of Wallander but are not tempted by the weather or scenery there. Sicily has so much to offer.

  33. eva devlin says:

    Love every single minute of both young and old montalbano ,I fall in love a little bit every Saturday evening.I am a very young 71year old grandma.

  34. fadedglories says:

    I’ve now watched all the episodes of ‘Young Montalbano’. Michele Riondino was a delight, he totally inhabited the character of Salvo Montalbano with the added bonus of looking good enough to eat! I hope we see more of him in the future.

  35. Liz says:

    Loved the series but I was on holiday for three of them! I managed to see two in France but am desperate to know how he managed to get that house! Can anyone tell me please? So looking forward to next week and another series of Montalbano!

    • Mrs P. says:

      Hi Liz: he spotted the house from the beach while on a walk (love at first sight). He then had to enter it in the course of an investigation and persuaded the owners to let it to him (I don’t think he’s bought it yet).

  36. Graham says:

    Just watched no 6 of YM and seen all the OM – can’t get enough! More to come I hear? Everything there for an absorbing two hours – not to mention the two lovely Livias!

    • Mrs P. says:

      I watched the last YM last night – yes, a bit darker than the rest, but a very good finish to the series I thought. I’ll miss the ‘young’ lot, I have to say.

  37. Pete says:

    YM – like OM- is an absolute treat. The characters have become friends I’m always looking forward to meet again.

    Just watched the “last” of the series, the other day, on iPlayer: one of the most suspenseful episodes so far (no spoilers here). I certainly hope for many more to come: Young or Old!

    On reading the comments here, a few observations:

    - I’m really surprised to hear that the series (YM I’m speaking of now) is doing so well in the US.

    I have been under the impression, until now, that American TV audiences don’t “do” subtitles, as a rule. Hence, of every internationally successful foreign production (European/Korean/Japanese/whatever) a US version is made lickedy-spit (half-baked, usually, and with an all-American cast), the foreign original immediately shoved under the carpet and, subsequently, the US bastardization internationally peddled as the “real” thing.

    - In association with the above (and since Scandi-crime has been mentioned several times in these pages): does anybody remember the British remake of Wallander (with Kenneth Branagh both directing and as the titular character) of some years ago? From the very beginning, the tone was wrong – to my taste, anyway: that’s to say, the landscapes just about right – but the cast so very evidently Brits pretending to be Swedes whilst all the time their “Britishness” kept shining through, somehow. Suffice to say that my interest didn’t last very long…

    Now, I don’t know about you, but wouldn’t YM/OM remade with British/American actors be pure horror?

    - Some critical remarks have been made about the figure of Catarella and his buffoonery being a bit over the top, perhaps. I disagree.

    The actor playing him (still don’t know his name, incidentally) has the treats of the older Catarella, in OM, down to tee, in my opinion. Besides, I find it quite an achievement how he provides some necessary comic relief and, at the same time, turns Catarella into such a consistently memorable character: his childish delight at every word of praise from YM; his naive and clumsy eagerness to please; his droll logic; his honesty; and on the rare occasions that he’s involved in real action (arrests and such) his all too human insecurity.

    In spite of being a fringe figure, strictly speaking, Catarella is a fully rounded character, as far as I’m concerned, And since he’s so endearing, my personal favourite. In other ways, Catarella seems a more boisterous version of Harry Langdon – internationally famous during the silent film era, but one of the many pioneers not making the transition to ‘talkies’.

    In his heydays, Langdon’s wide-eyed, childish film persona (comically shy of women, for instance) was very influential – if not as iconic as Chaplin’s ‘Tramp’. Today, he is all but forgotten (except, perhaps, by film buffs and academics).

    There are few Langdon clips on YouTube, I believe. Look him up and you’ll see what I mean.

    - Another crime procedural unexpectedly successful in the US, apparently, is ‘Tatort’ (literally: crime scene); very popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, running for a whopping 40 years (or more) and never ever aired on British TV, as far as I know. Since I’m fluent in German, too, the original Sunday evening show is featuring as another of my online treats.

    Tatort’s counterpart – Polizeiruf 110 (roughly translated as ‘Emergency Call 110) – is from German Democratic Republic origin (formerly known as – socialist – East-Germany). I had the privilege of seeing a rerun (on German TV) of the GDR take on police procedurals – offering a highly fascinating insight into a secretive society now gone forever.

    In case some BBC 4 executive is reading this: I wonder if the British public might be introduced to some old episodes of Tatort/Polizeiruf 110, some day. As high-summer filler for starters, perhaps? Just to whet the appetite?

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks for your very interesting comments, Pete.

      I wonder if things are changing ever so slightly in the States? I’m sure that subtitled crime is still a minority taste and that English-language remakes dominate, but there is maybe growing interest due to the often very high quality of European crime dramas. Plus it must be a lot cheaper just to buy them in.

      BBC4 is a good example of a channel that has taken advantage of the untapped riches of European foreign-language crime drama and seen it take off (possibly to the surprise of the execs). Lots of viewers on this blog have commented on how they would normally never watch subtitled drama, but had been completely drawn in to The Killing or The Bridge, simply because it was so good.

      I can’t remember which US channel specialises in showing European crime, but it does seem to have a small but very loyal following.

      The British Wallander: I actually quite liked this version and thought they did a pretty good job. I do still enjoy the originals very much too though.

      Ah, the wonderful Tatort and Polizeiruf 110. I’ve just got into the latter and am enjoying them very much (on DVD). They do offer a fascinating insight into the old GDR. I’m not quite sure what British viewers would make of them, but…why not? It would be intriguing to see the reaction!

  38. Pete says:

    In addition to my previous contribution: both YM/OM and Tatort/Polizeiruf 110 are long-running and much beloved in their countries of origin. Tatort, especially, has become an institution in its own right, over the years.

    Hence the association.

  39. Pete says:

    You know Tatort AND Polizeiruf 110? And you even have the old black-and-white GDR Polizeiruf 110 series on DVD?

    Wow! I’m really really really extremely impressed, Mrs P.

    In all my 14 years in the UK, you’re the first Brit ever with active knowledge of both series. And as to what interest the old GDR Polizeiruf series for British viewers may have: I’m sure that in this country, too, many people have been wondering what the blazes really went on, between 1961 and 1989, in the more secretive part of a then still divided Germany. The old GDR series, available for a broader audience today, may answer at least some of those questions.

    In more general terms, though: a very big chunk of modern history has been taken up by the relationship between this country and Germany, after all – through two massive world wars within the first half of the twentieth century alone! Once these trifles were done and dusted, the UK held a major military and political presence in post-war West-Germany (until deep into the 80s anyway, as far as I know). And thirteen years into the 21st Century, a lot of UK/German haggling and wrangling as to European Union issues still continues – the ancient rivalry not quite over yet.

    This should give at least some food for thought , methinks.

    • Mrs P. says:

      I do indeed, Pete, but you may be not be quite so surprised about this when you find out that I’m a Germanist by trade, and that one of my research areas is post-1945 German crime fiction, TV and film :) There’s more info via my about page…

      I too watch old GDR programmes like Polizeiruf 110 to learn more about the GDR, but have to keep reminding myself that these were state-produced TV series and would therefore have presented the GDR in a very particular way to its intended audience of GDR citizens. One irony, for example, is that the GDR – as a classless, communist society – was supposed to have eradicated instances of serious crime. This explains why the villains in series such as Polizeiruf 110 are often figured as nasty outsiders (former Nazis / FRG capitalists), or as GDR citizens ‘gone wrong’ (those planning to defect to the west for personal and economic gain). Utterly fascinating stuff!

      Polizeiruf 110 also has a reasonably senior female investigator – definitely ahead of the game for its time, and a reflection of more enlightened gender attitudes in the GDR.

  40. Marina m says:

    We have just watched the last of the YM episodes we recorded. We both enjoyed the series very much for all the reasons people here have mentioned. The music is great. I am going to see if I can download it. A marvellous series which, as with the older Montalbano, is lovely to watch with never a dull moment. Hope there’s more to come.

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