I may not be the best authority on Italian TV, seeing as I don't actually spend all that much time watching it, but after having lived here for 15 months (to the day, yay!), and before then from watching progammes inbetween lectures in uni, I think I've got a good idea of what Italian TV is! And here's my 'beginner's guide to Italian TV' - which I've decided to break up into a few separate posts, as it's turned out to be a pretty epic one!
Italians don't go for soaps in the same was as us Brits do. For one thing, out of all the soaps which are on in any given day or week, only a small number are home-grown Italian soaps. Two which are on TV at the moment are Canale Cinque's Centovetrine ('100 [shop] windows'), a daytime soap set in a shopping centre; and Rai Tre's Un posto al sole ('a place in the sun') which is set in Sicily. For another thing, Italian soaps in general run for series, so they aren't constantly on TV like British soaps. The Italian Wikipedia page for 'Soap Opera' makes for some interesting reading - only 12 Italian soaps are listed, in comparison to a total of 40 foreign soaps which have been shown in Italy!
Cooking, as we all know, is an Italian passion. But actually, there aren't all that many shows on Italian TV which are dedicated solely to cooking! Arguably the most well-known and loved is a show I've mentioned before, Italy's version of Ready, Steady, Cook - La prova del cuoco. I say it's the Italian version, but that's only part of the show, seeing as it runs for an hour and a half. Oh, and there's a fair bit of singing, look out for the the choruses of these two songs making an appearance (as demonstrated here!)!! Very funny, even on a cooking show they still burst into song!
Which means 'dubbed'. So many programmes on Italian TV are dubbed. They're mostly dramas and soaps (you can get the odd documentary too), from English-language shows (such as Merlin, Law & Order and Bones, to old-school repeated-to-death shows such as Walker Texas Ranger!) to French dramas, and German soaps. And of course, as there are plenty of dubbed films as well as imported programmes. As a general rule, weekday mornings are normally free of dubbed programmes, but there are more during the afternoons (especially on the Mediaset channels) and early evenings.