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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not the stuff for your boots

I've just watched this weeks episode of Desperate Housewives on the tele, on La Primera or TVE1 to be precise.

RTVE is the State broadcaster. They run two TV channels La Primera and La Dos, TVE2. There is an almost direct comparison between TVE1, TVE2 and BBC1/BBC2, except for the ads. Like the BBC, RTVE also operate a series of Radio stations. Radio 1 is a mixed talk station, Radio 3 is a strange pop station full of music from Mali, Radio 5 is a rolling news channel jammed with soft features and reported news but with nothing in the way of hard interviewing or critical analysis. There's a Classical station too.

Anyway I digress. I was thinking about dubbing when I started.

Back in Franco's time all foreign films and TV programmes were dubbed. The main reason for this was to cut out anything that didn't fit the politics of the time. If a film was a bit foul mouthed, or left leaning or too liberal then a quick rewrite of the script sorted that problem and whatever the voice actors said was what the Spanish public heard. There was also the more immediate problem that a lot of the Spanish population couldn't read anyway so subtitles would have been a bit tricky. A nice little spin off was that the dubbing industry produced quite a few jobs. So Spaniards got used to having their films and their TV dubbed and they still expect it.

There are a few "Original Version, subtitled" films to be seen at the pictures but they are not very popular except in some of the major cities. This makes it quite an odd experience going to the pictures. Imagine Jack Nicholson without that "aaahh" or Judi Dench without the clipped vowels - it just doesn't sound right. So whilst I may manage to follow the plot of a dubbed Spanish film I miss the voices of the people I know.

Now Desparate Housewives and Lost started in the UK after I'd left so I didn't know what the characters sounded like. I watched them on tele and I associated the characters with Spanish voices. I enjoyed both series.

DVDs of US and English language films come with the original soundtrack as well as the dubbed one and all the variations of subtitles etc. So, when Maggie got the boxed set of Desparate Housewives as a gift or when we borrowed Lost I was looking forward to the original voices being so much better and so much more in tune with the personalities. To be honest I was disappointed; I'd got used to the Spanish dubbed voices and the American sounded a bit wrong somehow.

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