Bunga bunga banished as Italian television cleans up

12 November 2012 - 02:48 By © The Daily Telegraph

Almost a year to the day after the fall of Silvio Berlusconi, a quiet revolution is under way in Italian TV.

Once notorious for streaming a steady diet of inane game shows featuring barely clothed showgirls, it is now under pressure to both clean up and cover up.

At the forefront of the campaign is the new head of Italy's state broadcasting body, Anna Maria Tarantola, who has launched what some Italian commentators view as a "crusade" against the excesses of the bunga bunga era.

Tarantola, 67, whose golden coiffeur and steely resolve have invited comparisons with Margaret Thatcher and the queen, wants to give more air time to "normal" women rather than the silicone-enhanced showgirls who became a staple diet of Italian TV during the Berlusconi years.

"I don't much like the way women are presented on TV," said Tarantola, appointed head of Radio Televisione Italiana by Mario Monti, who replaced Berlusconi as prime minister in November last year.

Tarantola called for programmes that were less "banal" and with more "values". The message, instead, should be that "women are beautiful as they are".

It is not just Italian television that is cleaning up its act in the post-Berlusconi era, however.

Though it may not yet be a case of "no-sex-please-we're-Italian", commentators claim to detect a distinct shift in attitudes towards women in many areas of public life.

Contestants in this year's Miss Italy contest, for example, were ordered to ditch the skimpy bikinis they normally wear in favour of much more modest one-piece costumes. And girls who had plastic surgery or who sported tattoos and body piercings were prohibited from entering the competition in September.

The changes to the format were made after "hints" from Work and Equal Opportunities Minister Elsa Fornero.

Fornero, 64, also voiced her disapproval when a well-known showgirl, Belen Rodriguez, appeared in an extremely revealing dress presenting the San Remo music festival .