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Walter Presents: ‘Inspector Ricciardi’ preview – this one is a real feast for the eyes

This one is a real feast for the eyes. Set in Naples in the 1930s, this cosy mystery series – with a supernatural twist – looks beautiful on screen with its art-deco styling and easy-on-the-eye cast.

If you want to avoid spoilers, stop reading this article now.

Ricciardi is the ridiculously handsome lead, played by Lino Guanciale, who you might recognise from another Walter Presents series, ‘The Red Door’. Somewhat bizarrely, that show featured Guanciale as a policeman who had been killed, but remains in limbo between life and death in order to find out who had done the deed. But in Inspector Ricciardi, he’s playing a policeman who sees and hears the dead.

Walter Presents: Inspector Ricciardi
Credit: Walter Presents

In the opening episode, he’s summoned to the opera house where a famous – and much despised – tenor has been murdered in his dressing room during a performance. Ricciardi and his trusty sidekick, Maione, are brought in to investigate. Suspicion initially falls on his widow, Livia Lucani, played by the achingly beautiful Serena Iansiti. But soon a number of other suspects show themselves to have motive and opportunity, largely owing to the victim’s womanizing and unpleasant nature.

The final conclusion is satisfying, with a number of clues secreted throughout the episode to help the viewer play along with the mystery. But this is less about that, and more about the wonderful journey – absorbing oneself into the ambience of Italy between the wars; the stylish fashions and decadent furnishings, living alongside the slums and poverty.

Many viewers will also be drawn to the rather rear-window like will-they/won’t-they relationship between Ricciardi and his neighbour, Enrica (Maria Vera Ratti). Ricciardi peers longingly across the courtyard into Enrica’s house, watching her – somewhat creepily, it must be said – doing her domestic chores. They bump into each other from time to time, exchanging longing glances – but, for whatever reason, the studious and unsmiling Ricciardi does nothing to pursue the matter. Perhaps that will change as the series develops (there’s a Season 2, I notice, as well).

Walter Presents: Inspector Ricciardi
Credit: Walter Presents

Each episode is a two-hour Italian treat for the senses. The acting is strong, and the storyline engaging. But the real draw is in the visuals – Naples looks as beautiful, as do much of the cast. Lino Guanciale plays the role like an old-school leading man – tall, dark and moody, with slicked-back hair and a little kiss curl falling over his forehead. He’s the sort of man women would either want to marry or mother – or maybe both.

Virtually every Italian crime series ends up being compared to ‘Inspector Montalbano’, and there are many parallels here, too. Not the era in which it’s set, but the format of the show is not dissimilar. One might say it’s a bit formulaic and cliched, but actually that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know what you’re going to get – in this case, two hours of escapism and thoroughly enjoyable entertainment.

Walter Presents: ‘Inspector Ricciardi’ launches on Channel 4 on 12th March at 11pm. The full boxset is available on Walter Presents via All 4 from 10th March.

Martin Howse
Martin Howse
Martin is a wannabe Viking who enjoys all things Nordic (literature, film, TV, rock music - and cinnamon buns!). Skål!

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