After the enormous disappointment of “My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune” on Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago, I am hoping that “proper” telly can do better this week. Tonight, at 8.30pm on BBC1, we have an episode of “Panorama” called “The Russians Are Coming“. In it, investigative reporter Darragh MacIntyre lifts the lid on Russian organised crime as it spreads to the UK. He investigates a death in a Russian prison and a whistleblower found dead on a street in Surrey, revealing where these victims fit into the crime-war jigsaw. And then on BBC2 at 9pm on Wednesday [an earlier draft of this post said Tuesday – thanks to Jason in Guernsey for pointing this out], in the series “This World”, there is an episode looking at “The Mafia’s Secret Bunkers“. In this, Mafia historian John Dickie (surely a job that should come with danger money) visits Calabria, in the tip of the toe of the Italian boot, to tell the story of Italy’s most powerful crime network- the Calabrian mafia, or ’Ndrangheta. Born out of prison gangs in the 1880s, the ’Ndrangheta is now Europe’s biggest cocaine trafficker. In this programme, we are promised that we will see inside the bunkers that members of the clan use as hide-outs. But what about the spiders? Size of dinner plates, I shouldn’t wonder.
As always, I will be watching with ears pricked for the phrase “money laundering”. I heard someone use it in the departure lounge at Guernsey airport last Friday, and it was all I could do to stop myself decamping to the seat next to him. Mind you, I did wander past as often as I could without looking suspicious – he probably just thinks I’m a timid flyer with a nervous bladder.