Arbore's television career starts in 1969, a year of political
protests and confrontations. Inspired by the social and political
unrest of the time, Arbore produces his first television program
"Speciale per voi" ("Special for you")
of which he is also the host. This program faithfully reflects
the questioning mood of the time by hosting musical guests,
such as Lucio Battisti just to mention one name, and then
letting the audience openly discuss and critique the performances,
producing thus what could be considered the first "talk-show"
of Italian television.
Italians used to the traditional Sunday television program
"Domenica In" ("Sunday Here") discover
that on Rai's second channel there is a new program, "L'Altra
Domenica" ("The Other Sunday"). It is Arbore's
brainchild, a new kind of show that lets the public interact
directly with the program and launches new personalities such
as Roberto Benigni (taking the improbable role of film critic),
the American cousin Andy Luotto, the cartoon shows of Maurizio
Nichetti, and the broadcasts of Mario Marenco from Rome and
Isabella Rossellini from New York.
In 1981 Arbore comes back to television as author and host
of "Tagli, ritagli, e frattaglie" ("Cuts, trimmings,
and innards") and "Telepatria International"
In 1984, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of RAI, Arbore
brings to life a long-coveted project by producing and hosting
"Cari amici, vicini e lontani" ("Dear friends,
far and near"), bringing together radio and television
in an unlikely union thought impossible until then by "showing"
the voices of mythical radio personalities on the screen.
1985 is the year of "Quelli della notte" ("Those
of the night"), a program of improvisation in which guests
freely chat and ad-lib in a new style, the only guideline
being the theme of that episode, resulting in incredibly powerful
comedy, something quite rare in modern television.
In 1987 debuts the daily music show "D.O.C." (short
for "Denomination of controlled origins" an acronym
usually used for wines), which a year later moves to Arbore's
preferred evening slot as "International D.O.C. Club".
This is also the year of the satirical television show "Indietro
Tutta" ("Full steam backwards"), which deconstructs
and ridicules modern television programs. Arbore is the Captain
of this ship that goes backward, and together with Nino Frassica
and a bizarre crew, they make fun of modern television's quiz
shows with their scantly dressed helper-girls and corporate
In 1990, Arbore hosts "Il Caso Sanremo" (The Sanremo
Case), where they simulate trials of deeds and misdeeds in
the history of the famous singing competition in an improbable
court of law with lawyers impersonated by Michele Mirabella
and Lino Banfi.
Two years later, Arbore gives a heartfelt tribute to Totó
with the television program "Caro Totó
voglio presentare" ("Dear Totó
like to present you"), a program celebrating the artistic
greatness of absolutely the best of comics, the Prince of
In 1996 Arbore hosts "La Giostra", (The Merry-go-round"),
a 22-hour, live program for RAI International, of which he
has become Artistic Director.
Lastly, on Saturday, January 22, 2005, is the great return
to television. Aside from a very brief TV series in 2002,
just not to lose the touch ("I am happy only when I sing
night and day: Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si"), it is with "Speciale
per Me" (Special for Me"), or "Meno siamo,
meglio andiamo" (The less, the merrier"), that Arbore
truly comes back to television demonstrating once again how
he is ahead of his time by at least ten years. This television
program (on in the evening, of course!) amuses today's uncultured
television audiences with jazz performances (really!), interspersed
with jokes and revisits of lost television excerpts of great
musicians of the past that have characterized Italian television.
Among the delicious aromas of gourmet dishes prepared by Marisa
Laurito (the editor could not believe they were real and had
to taste them during the program to prove it to himself!),
who is helped by the chef "that has been to France",
and with a sure cultural contribution from
brother (who thinks his brother is a "lazy bum"),
-- the show alternates between improv piece by Renzo Arbore
with his guests/friends and pure jazz performances, such as
"Voglio fare la modella" ("I want to be a model")
by maestro Leo di San Felice. And then, with even more thrilling
television and film excerpts, some of which who knows when
or even if we may have had the opportunity to enjoy otherwise,
we realize this is a program to really, really savor from
beginning to end, just like the anti-rust drink presenter
Stornaiolo obstinately keeps offering to Arbore to counteract
the effects of being away from television for so many years.
Ultimately, this is a program with which Arbore takes a stand
against the excessive power of the TV rating system, by proving
false the prediction that the show would not survive four
episodes, and producing twenty of them, with incredible success
with the audience.