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Young Montalbano - Looking to the Past for the Future of Crime TV

When Inspector Salvo Montalbano returns to UK screens, there’ll be a lot more jet black hair atop his head.


When Inspector Salvo Montalbano returns to UK screens, there’ll be a lot more jet black hair atop his head. But the gritty crime solver hasn’t followed Wayne Rooney into the hair transplant clinic. We’re actually just seeing a younger version of the iconic Italian sleuth.

Young Montalbano is an all new show, starring Michele Riondino, which takes audiences back in time to the formative years of the detective’s career. Through his early cases, and the trials and tribulations of his private life, we will discover just what made the Inspector into the man we know and love.

The first British TV airing of Young Montalbano will be on BBC4 at 9pm on Saturday 7th September.

A trend is emerging within popular television. Writers are breathing new into beloved franchises by looking into the character’s pasts and reintroducing audiences to their younger selves.

The tactic has already paid off for ITV given the success of Endeavour. The show stars Shaun Evans as Police Constable Endeavour Morse. As one of the most enduring characters in British TV history, viewers followed the career of Inspector Morse for decades in his original incarnation, as portrayed by John Thaw, but last year regular Morse writer Russell Lewis explored the character’s origin story in a one off TV film.

In Endeavour, The Origins of Inspector Morse, Lewis took us back to the year 1965 and the hunt for a missing school girl. The case would take a young Endeavour Morse to Oxford and thus lay the foundation for everything that had come before. It was wildly popular and inspired an all new spin off series, while a second series is currently in the works.

Cynics might suggest that prequel shows are nothing but a means of cashing in on a famous name.

Rather than take a risk on an original series which audiences aren’t familiar with, they slap an old name on a new character; but there is more to these shows than just that. In addition to rich, period styling and a cast of bright, young performers, these shows become a rewarding experience since they pinpoint particular events or individuals which inspired the various idiosyncrasies and traits that iconic characters are known for.

It takes a skilled writer to break down a character and then build compelling tales and mysteries which allow the characters flourish into their more recognisable older selves. Fortunately, the minds behind each of these popular sequel shows are a rare vintage.

Andrea Camilleri, the creator of the Inspector Montalbano universe, has also written the Young Montalbano series, and who better to know precisely what made Salvo the man he is today, than the man who brought him into the world?

Morse creator Colin Dexter, OBE, might have long since hung up his pen, but Russell Lewis was no stranger to his literary universe before travelling back in time with Endeavour. A writer on the original Inspector Morse series, Lewis was also the creator of another popular Morse spin off show, Lewis.

Rather than name the show after himself the series followed the later career of Detective Inspector Robbie Lewis, Inspector Morse’s sidekick, now a fully fledged title character with a sidekick of his own. But in his next exploration of the Morse universe, the writer went back in time.

It seems that others will follow his lead. The question is, which iconic detective will be the next to receive the prequel treatment, and will fans be as willing to hop in the time machine once again?


 Young Montalbano
 Inspector Montalbano

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