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 first episode sees Montalbano arrive in Vigata and investigate an attempted murder. A certain Andrea Camilleri is listed as one of its writers.
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:
Closing track – ‘Vuci mia canntanu vai’ (loved this in particular)