Blogs in this series

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.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Time to Blog something

It's a while since I posted anything so I thought I ought to; just to prove I'm still alive. The problem is what to Blog?

It could have been our jaunt last weekend to Calasparra (but buying a beer and a few tapas doesn't provide a lot of material) nor did the onward journey to Caravaca de la Cruz, where they have a remnant of the "One True Cross" kept within an ornate box that looks a bit like the "French Resistance" cross of Lorraine.

It could have been the Tour of Alicante bike race that flashed by our door yesterday (except that we only saw it from 200 yards away).

But generally what we do is to go to work, come home and slump in front of the TV so I thought I should maybe do that.

The TV output here is both similar and dissimilar to that in the UK. There are far fewer soap operas and "Wuthering Heights" type dramas and their game shows are as crass as they come. Slipping on banana skins is the height of humour. Game shows usually have women in short skirts or men with rippling muscles. There are still lots of variety shows where paunchy men introduce second rate dance troupes. The news is good but then again there is as much time dedicated to sport (i.e. footie) as there is to the rest of the news. Films tend to be older than in the UK. Investigative journalism doesn't seem to have much of a profile. There are chat shows but they are very different, much more fawning that Jonathon Ross or Parkinson even and one of the ones I've seen a couple of times has a host who wears a cravat and talks to his guests across a desk. There are lots of gossipy programmes and lots of Jerry Springer (fat people humiliating themselves) shows.

One of the difficulties for us is the timing of programmes. peak viewing in Spain is at about 10pm when people have got home from work and had something to eat. Most films start at 10 but, with the adverts they will go on till 1am. and, annoyingly, they will run twenty minutes of ads with just five minutes of the film left to go.

The state broadcaster is RTVE, like the BBC they provide radio and TV broadcasts. Like the BBC their first channel is more populist than their second channel. Unlike the BBC there is no licence fee but there are adverts and the adverts can last as long as 15 minutes, maybe a little more. TVE2 is very much like BBC2 used to be- worthy discussion programmes, hip music shows and minority interest stuff. RTVE is not the most popular channel. Telecinco, Channel 5 is. They have more cheap comedy shows, and increasingly US import shows like Grey’s Anatomy (though RTVE has both Lost and Desperate Housewives). Antena 3 has Who Wants to be a Millionaire. In fact there are lots of syndicated shows - Big Brother is on 5, Celebrity Come Dancing is on 1 etc. The odd thing is that all of these shows are home grown product or they're dubbed. I couldn't take to the West Wing (on 2) with Spanish accents because I knew what they should sound like whereas I was actually disappointed with the real voice of Bree van der Kamp on Desperate Housewives, I preferred the Spanish voice I'd heard first.

For first run films and big sporting events the equivalent of Sky, with buying power to match, is Canal+ available on subscription cable or satellite - I've never seen it except in bars. However, we have about 20 channels on TDT, terrestrial digital - a couple of sports channels, two or three 24 hour news channels, a couple of MTV like stations, five or six local channels as well as all the big three broadcasters plus a couple of upstart nationwide broadcasters like Cuatro (4) and La Sexta (6) - between them I suppose 4 and 6 are a bit Channel 4ish with the late night satirical shows, reruns of Sex in the City etc. Also each of the big broadcasters has some minor stations on digital a couple of which run kids programmes and non-stop Mexican soap operas. Digital often means that it is possible to listen to the original soundtrack, usually, but not always, English and if I put the subtitles on I can have English with Spanish subtitles, which I kid myself, has some educational value.

Being Brits of course we could, if we were bad people, buy a big satellite dish, run it on a free to air card and watch lots of British TV as well without paying any subscription or licence fees. As though we would!

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