Young Montalbano BBC4, with Michele Riondino PREVIEW

Young Montalbano (Michele Riondino). Pics: BBC
Before he was bald – Young Montalbano (Michele Riondino). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC4: starts Saturday, 7 September, 9pm

Story: In a prequel to Inspector Montalbano, the detective moves to a remote village in the Sicilian mountains, where he investigates the case of an attempted murder at the hands of a vulnerable woman, whose motives appear unfathomable.

WHILE THE SCANDI-NOIR faves The Killing, The Bridge and the rest have hogged the headlines, the Italian star of the BBC4 crime slot has been more low-key while quietly building up a loyal following.

British Inspector Montalbano fans are out there now in Sicily on the Montalbano trail, buying the boxsets and contacting this blog demanding to know when Luca Zingaretti will be back as the Commissario.

This new series, which does for Montalbano what ITV’s Endeavour has done for Inspector Morse, will

Young Montalbano ep 1 BBC4 Viola
Suspect – Viola

delight devotees by depicting a younger, more hirsute version of the much-loved detective.

Michele Riondino plays the young Montalbano with some empathy for Zingaretti’s portrayal, and with author Andrea Camilleri writing for this new series, there is plenty of continuity and protection of the character.

Montalbano is starved of his beloved seafood

In the opener, Montalbano is 33 and out of sorts, having been posted to the mountain town of Mascalippa, where his sinuses suffer and he can’t find his way around. But we soon see how he gets his posting to his beloved seaside hometown of Vigata with a promotion from deputy to commissario.

With a nod to fans who know his quirks and preferences, there is the moment he finds his beloved Calogero restaurant with its marvellous seafood, so that the detective can escape the goat ragu of Mascalippa. The cuisine is almost as important to these stories as the murder plot twists.

As for that, Montalbano is after the killer of a nasty piece of work who has been found with his head bashed in.

Murder suspect has been abandoned by her family

While his idiot boss insists on arresting a shepherd who has a consignment of Second World War

Young Montalbano ep1 BBC4 Borusso
Suspect – Borruso

hobnail boots that are linked to the murder, the Commissario is soon investigating a poor young woman whose motives for killing the rogue seem unfathomable. Having fallen pregnant, she has been abandoned by her family as a ‘whore’.

A fine feature of these stories is always the depiction of corrupting influences, the nods and favours that seem to oil so much of Italian life, and which constantly confront our man. Here, no sooner is he installed in his office in Vigata than an oleaginous lawyer is pressing him to give sympathetic testimony at the trial of a rich thug from an influential family whom Montalbano has witnessed battering an old man following a road-rage incident. How he navigates these moments is always fascinating.

Young Montalbano complements the original series really well. The story is interesting, there is plenty of humour (a bungling young Catarella features), the setting is wonderful and the food, of course, mouthwatering.

Also check out…

Montalbano – why it’s the best show on TV

British tourists on the Montalbano trail

BBC4 Montalbano

Cast: Michele Riondino Salvo Montalbano, Andrea Tidona Carmine Fazio, Katia Greco Mery, Valentina D’Agostino Viola Di Monaco, Fabrizio Pizzuto Catarella

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