TV Highlights

Alex Polizzi's Secret Italy

Channel 5 - 9pm

Who's in it?

Taking a break from inspecting pillows and scowling at full English breakfasts, hotel inspector Alex Polizzi was off on a jaunt through Italy, land of her forefathers, in this brand new show.

In a nutshell

It's weirdly fashionable to be down on Venice. To complain about its dank smell, and over-priced restaurants, and endless market stalls selling naff tat. But Alex Polizzi reminded us that, hey everyone this is still VENICE and therefore awesome. Floating along on gondolas, smiling serenely at piazzas and achingly atmospheric townhouses, she made a fine travelling companion. Although, being Alex Polizzi, she did manage to sneak in a few criticisms of the tourists thronging around her.

The show also had its edgier moments. As well as surveying gorgeous landmarks in the north of the country, Alex paid a visit to a women's prison. It wasn't exactly HMP Holloway though, featuring as it did a cosmetics lab (!) and even a shop selling fresh fruit and veg (!!). Hey, it's Italy – even their jails are cooler and more stylish than ours. Perhaps the most excitable moment came when Alex got to grips – literally – with a dress belonging to opera icon Maria Callas. We've never seen the hotel inspector look so giddy (and so un-scary).

What's the verdict?

A good old-fashioned TV travelogue, this, lacking the clever quips and nudge-nudge humour of other shows by the likes of Karl Pilkington and Paul Merton, and content to do the country itself do the talking. Mamma mia, indeed.

Star rating: 3/5

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07-07-2011