lunedì 23 novembre 2009

Why I Pay for Italian TV

With my internet package here in France, I get high definition TV bundled in with the phone line and internet connection that are the reasons the package is actually worth paying for for me. There are 150 TV channels included, but nevertheless, I was more than delighted when I realised that for a bargainous 3 euros per month, I could add the Italian “bouquet”, which gives me access to Rai 1, 3 and 3 and 24 hour news just as if I were in Italy. Given the reputation of Italian TV, it may come as a surprise to you to learn that anybody, least of all somebody born and bred outside of the borders of the Bel Paese, would actually pay to watch it, but there are two reasons why I do.

The first reason is that French TV is pretty bad. It doesn't have the same number of high-quality programmes that you get in the UK, but, unlike Italian TV, it doesn't give you much opportunity to laugh at it rather than with it either. Imagine Italian TV made boring. That's French TV.

The second reason is just one programme: L'Eredità. L'Eredità alone is worth 3 euros a month. It's a quiz show, on at 7 o'clock every weekday evening, where contestants answer questions in a range of formats, being eliminated as the show progresses until only two participants are left. These two then answer questions to “inherit” each other's money until eventually the winner takes it all.

The quality of the questions varies. Some are pretty stupid but some are amusing and quite a few are really interesting. One of the rounds is a guessing game that is actually really difficult, and overall, the questions are interesting enough to keep you watching and not make you despise the contestants too much for their stupidity when they get it wrong.

L'Eredità is also good for language learning because, as well as involving a wide range of vocabulary, the questions appear on the screen as you watch, helping you to understand the basics of what's going on. After the contestants response, there is a longer explanation of the answer that is a bit more complicated to follow.

As Italian TV programmes go, L'Eredità is surprisingly inoffensive. There are fewer flashing lights than in your average quiz show (and possibly even your average nature programme in Italy) and the host's skin is not too ridiculously orange. The contestants look like normal people and do not seem to have decided to appear purely in the hope of nabbing an evening gig at Berlusconi's villa. Just to add that hint of Italy, however, there is this incongruous moment where the glamorous female assistants have to dance before going on to report on relatively well-researched answers to the questions. It's bizarre.

The way that things worked out, I haven't found myself back in Italy as often as I expected to over the past few months and I feel like a bit of a fraud for carrying on this blog when I don't live there any more. I'm not ready to give it up just yet though, so let's just hope that La Rai and a few trips in the next wee while will give me enough to keep writing about.

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