When it comes to gritty, intelligent crime drama the Nordic countries pretty much have it sewn up with their seemingly endless production line of ice-cold, fatally flawed detective series.
So a blast of white hot Sicilian attitude is the perfect contrast for lovers of crime drama with the latest BBC4 series of the irrepressible Inspector Montalbano.
The combative ‘Il commissario’ is a very different kind of TV detective who eschews the brooding silences of his Scandinavian counterparts and instead shouts and gesticulates like an excitable Azzurri centre half.
Unlike the famous knitted jumpers and strange, natty leather jackets found in The Killing or The Bridge, Salvo Montelbano always cuts a sartorial dash in his trademark jackets, white shirts and shades.
Remarkably almost every witness, victim or perpetrator of crime in the fictional town of Vigata is a beautiful, sultry woman whose lasciviousness is only matched by Salvos determination to crack the case.
Based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri our leading man is usually found trying to solve the crime, while simultaneously navigating the labyrinthine Italian legal beaucracy and dealing with a trinity of church, Mafiosi and culture.
It also boasts one of the most dramatic and memorable soundtracks/opening sequences you’ll see anywhere on TV.
So when he’s not swimming in the sea (the start of nearly every episode), charming an incredibly attractive star witness, or enjoying an amazing three course lunch he’s carefully communicating with a wide range of different people across the island.
So what can this unique character teach us about comms?
#1 Have the right story ready at the right time.
It would be unfair to say that Salvo regularly tells half-truths but he knows how to match the right story for the right audience. He regularly uses his comms skills to sell the same message to a different audience. Whether that’s to the judiciary, the mafia don or just slipping something out to entice a confession he’s the master of knowing how to pitch to a wide range of different audiences.
#2 Show emotion and inject it into your story.
Nobody, but nobody could accuse him of lacking passion or emotion. He’s got more hand gestures that every tic-tac betting man in the whole of racing. He’s not afraid to use that in his communications and it helps him get results.
#3 It’s a team game
Although he’s very much the alpha male of the group he recognises that it’s a team sport. He knows that he can’t do it alone.
#4 Develop people
He’s variously a father/brother/mother/ogre figure to his various colleagues particularly Mimi and Fazio. But with his guidance they visibly grow and contribute more as the show moves on.
#5 Don’t be afraid to get away and take time out to think.
You’ll be creative, problem solve and work better.
It may be a long walk or his traditional morning swim in the Med but head space is crucial to his success.
#6 Lunch properly….and well.
Not for Salvo a soggy roll forced down in front of his PC. His three course lunches are the thing of legend and he insists on no talking while he’s eating. Desk diners will never solve the case! We can learn something from that.
#7 Be nice to people
Nice guys come last right? Wrong. I’ve never known or met anyone who works harder for someone because they dislike them. You have to earn respect but people want to like people.
#8 Build networks
I’ve never seen him using Twitter but his network of contacts across the whole town are usually key to his success.
2 thoughts on “8 things a Sicilian detective can teach us about comms”
Nice post Ross,
Salvo Montelbano is a class act.
Just thinking about a #9 you could add to the list, Mulit Channel Communication.
Alonngside all the usual talking to people, speaking on the phone etc, he’s quite happy to use the local independent Television people to help with investigations – including flushing out suspects.
My favourite of all was the use of an aeroplane dragging a banner to commemorate the death of two lovers – the ones found entombed in a cave. Brilliant thinking.
I’m also deeply jealous of his ability to swim in the sea.