All of Romania was this week in thrall to Costel Busuioc, the "Pavarotti of the Banat" who won some kind of talent contest on Spanish TV caled Hijos de Babel. Every news programme on TV led with the story, and all managed to get an interview with Mr Basil himself (Busuioc means basil - the herb, I mean)
It is a pretty heartwarming story though - he works on a construction site in Spain (as do hundreds of thousands of other Romanians) and his wife and kids live back here in Romania in a village somewhere near Timisoara. Anyway, his boss heard him singing while he was doing the plastering or something and told him he had a good voice and should enter this competition. He did so (I think with the support of what sounds like an extremely understanding boss), and immediately was successful. he then had to learn how to sing "properly" or something, as well as taking some language lessons to help him with the singing. In the end on Wednesday night he was crowned champion after singing Nessum Dorma - mostly through getting top marks from the public phone in vote. (And since the Romanian community is not exactly widely loved in Spain, this is really positive on many levels). I saw him interviewed and he seemed like a really humble down-to-earth bloke. He once tried to enter a singing competition in Lugos (the closest town to his village) but he was turned down for not having the right qualifications. I presume he didn't finish school or something. Not quite sure how big a show Hijos de Babel is in Spain, but anyway.
I've been meaning to post for a while on the two oddest/most ridiculous programmes on Romanian TV, so since we've started on the TV theme, I will do so now. The first of these is this programme in which a camera follows around the young (model?) bride of this fairly old but very wealthy bloke (well late middle age at best). Her name is Monica Columbeanu and the programme seems spectacularly boring. Take someone who has quite possibly the most boring life imaginable (albeit in very high-class surroundings), and make a show about her life. I have no idea if anyone actually watches it. I recently discovered that Mr Columbeanu actually owns the channel on which the programme airs, so this possibly explains the existence of this show.
The second, which I suspect is not actually an original Romanian idea, is called "Test de Fidelitate", in which a suspicious wife gets the TV station in to set up a situation in which her husband is left alone with a woman (in a place with a hidden camera) who attempts to seduce him. When he falls for it, the wife rushes in and clouts him about the head with her handbag (metaphorically, at least). It's baffling. I mean to an extent it's a brilliant TV idea, it's got all the elements of a successful show - sex, betrayal, anger, the opportunity to gawp at others' misfortunes, etc. But why would anyone decide to go on this programme?