Gloomy Greeks forget woes with lavish Turk TV dramas

Thu Jan 5, 2012 10:38am EST
 
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By Karolina Tagaris

ATHENS (Reuters) - When an Athens taxi driver learned his passenger was the boss of an Istanbul-based company that brings Turkish TV dramas to Greece he reached for his phone, called his wife and put her through to the man sitting in the back seat.

"She had to know what happens next," Global Agency chief executive Izzet Pinto said with a laugh. "I was expecting success but not like this."

It all began when crisis-stricken Greek TV channels realized that buying the glitzy tales of forbidden love, adultery, clan loyalties and betrayal from long-standing regional rival Turkey, was cheaper than filming their own.

The action-packed dramas quickly came to dominate the ratings despite the fact that they are broadcast in Turkish with only subtitles in Greek and have gained a devoted following among a Greek populace disheartened by the country's biggest financial crisis in decades.

Local commentators even talk of a Turkish invasion, pointing to the history of enmity between the two countries who have been on brink of war on several occasions, most recently in 1996.

Relations have warmed and natural disasters in both countries have brought them closer. But Greeks know little about the daily lives of urban Turks and usually view Turkish society with a critical eye.

"What Turks didn't achieve with 400 years of military occupation they will achieve with TV occupation," one blogger wrote in reference to the rule of the former Turkish Ottoman Empire, which included modern-day Greece and collapsed at the start of the 20th century.

Panoramic views of Istanbul neighborhoods which were once home to large and vibrant Greek communities have also awakened a sense of nostalgia in Greeks for a place they refer to as "The City" or Constantinople.   Continued...