Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Needles and Sins

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Sunday, July 8, 2012 by

Tanja Cilia

Welsh drama students Jenny Davies, Amy Ingram and Laura Quantick might never make it to the silver screen; yet as Cassie, Emm and Jules, they had their 30 minutes of fame on a public service video.

What began as a joyful jaunt in the car for the three of them ended in a mid-text tragedy involving several vehicles.

Another clip meant to educate fell somewhat flat; whereas it was supposed to educate women about the dangers of applying make-up while driving, the lady giving the tutorial gave it from her bedroom, thus losing the effect of the exercise, despite her jerks and jolts when simulating impact in A Crash Course to Shine.

There was another make-up tutorial that had a lot more clout. Ostensibly a master-class about how to apply cosmetics to hide the bruises resulting from domestic violence, the subsequently flawless face came with a warning: ‘don’t hide it’.

These clips have, for some reason, made it to local television; we have watered-down versions calculated not to offend the sensibilities of anyone – despite the fact that they could easily be aired after the watershed and hit the appropriate audience right between the eyes.

Another set of young ladies with an affinity for make-up (and ill-fitting prosthetic teeth) was the bevy of models appearing in Venere (TVM Sundays), which came to an end last week. Advertising itself as being replete with (eight) “gorgeous models, tantalising dresses, extravagant hairdos, alluring make up and witty photographers” and other syntactical aberrations, the series consisted of themed photo-shoots organised by Unique Promotions, the enterprise behind The Malta Fashion Awards and Motion Blur production house.

Over the course of this, the eighth series, the young ladies acquired more poise and presence; there was a marked improvement in their posture and attitude in front of the camera. Inevitably their clothes – and the dearth of them – made the series one of the more popular of local television.

As tends to happen, the final programme of the series included a round-up of out-takes and other gaffes, and sound-bites from the team. I found it absolutely distasteful that one of the models told the (presumably similarly-inclined) viewers not to eat, in order to maintain one’s figure. The childish tal-ġenn expression by another model fades into insignificance beside this puerile and pathetic idiocy which had no place in such a montage.

• A mosaic of scenes, events and happenings that ought to be fun is Is-Sajf mas-Salv. This will be another series from the inimitable Salvu Mallia, who has recently given us the entertaining and didactic Madwarna.

The tagline is ‘Turisti f’Pajjiżna’ (Tourists in our own land). The series began last Thursday, on TVM, at 8.40 p.m. and Salvu took us to the Mnarja festivities.

Further along the line he will be talking about Caravaggio, with nary a nod towards Eurovision warbles. He will, instead, take to the streets of Paceville and see what kind of life Caravaggio would have had if he were alive today. Why Paceville? Well, Michelangelo Merisi had a reputation as a genius of oils – but he was also a bon vivant and a brawler, so the place would have drawn him like a moth to a flame.

There will be repeats on Tuesdays at 7.05 p.m. on TVM2.

• Angelique Lautier. March, 2010. Sleet and squalls. Victor Gallo. Dingli. Aficionados of local literature will recognise the above as vital ingredients in Prima Facie, the award-winning debut novel of Mark Camilleri.

This has now evolved into a television drama series, with the screenplay written by Charles Stroud and Eileen Spiteri of 26th Frame, to be broadcast on One from October.

When I contacted Camilleri, I asked whether he could divulge the names of the actors – but he said that this was classified information.

“But I will say that it’s an über-thrill to witness my debut work being thus transposed. This has always been my dream; police thrillers are really sought after by crime aficionados. I am grateful to 26th Frame for this sensational opportunity. Here’s hoping Inspector Victor Gallo, with his appeal, becomes a cult figure of the local television scene,” Mr Camilleri said.

Camilleri also told me that the pre-publication work on the Prima Facie sequel Volens is at a very advanced stage.

• Every so often, I receive e-mails from people who feel they have been wronged by (different) television stations either in magazine programmes, or by specific items in news bulletins. They tell me I must “do something about it”.

Instead of expecting the media to be their catspaw, these people ought to know that they might have a right of reply if their case is sound. All they have to do is contact the Broadcasting Authority, and if applicable, they will be granted a right of reply. They can also take the matter to court.

• I am often told I ought to be more lenient with people who mangle the language. After all, the argument goes, in a live programme, sometimes, it just ‘comes out like that’.

This argument cuts no ice; if you know a language well, you speak it well, even if you are pressed for time, under duress, or on air.

Broadcasters must remember that there are still viewers and listeners who assume that the spoken language evolves according to that which is spoken on the media.

The other day, for instance, someone was speaking about ħafnat iqtates. I regret to say that the presenter who is usually so prompt at correcting other guests, kept silent this time around.

It is also irritating to see how certain words in Maltese are deemed unfit for broadcast through propriety that is only snobbishness.

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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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