Bulgarian TV Host: My Program Is No Cursed Freakshow!*

Views on BG | May 31, 2011, Tuesday // 12:41
Bulgaria: Bulgarian TV Host: My Program Is No Cursed Freakshow!* File photo of eccentric Bulgarian TV show host Martin Karbovski

by Martin Karbovski

published by the Guardian

I was surprised at how Leo Benedictus represented one of Bulgaria's most highly rated TV shows (Is This TV Show Cursed?, G2, 5 May). "The Bulgarian TV show Otechestven Front – which translates loosely as The Home Front – does seem to be experiencing a cluster of bad luck," he writes. The "Fatherland Front" programme features ordinary people. Most of their stories are not glossy: many Bulgarians live on the edge of survival.

Many of our characters are lonely people, people from minorities, women and children who are victims of trafficking, people with AIDS, drug addicts. Before we achieved democracy, we were not allowed to talk about these people. Benedictus obviously thinks this is funny: "Think of a macabre That's Life, or a clothed Eurotrash, and you'll be getting warm," he says.

Thanks to one of our investigations a Bulgarian MP was sentenced for paedophilia (a suspended sentence only – the Bulgarian law system is another thing that Fatherland Front is trying to fight).

Benedictus says: "Over the past two years, no fewer than six of the show's subjects have died shortly after taking part." And he continues: "The first was a particularly unpleasant former criminal known as The Rose, who collapsed a matter of days after his interview was filmed, amid rumours of black magic." For the record, Marin the Rose was filmed five times for the show, from 2006 onwards. He was from an "at-risk" group and had spent most of his life in prison. He died after a drink-related fight.

Next, Benedictus says: "An 85-year-old woman called Gena, who told [presenter Martin Karbowski] her legs had been eaten by dogs, was next, dying in her sleep." This poor woman died a year and a half after we broadcast the interview with her – because of the injuries, trauma and shock caused by the dog attack she'd suffered. According to the doctors, after the accident her death was just a matter of time.

"Another victim was Ivanka Arsova, the 62-year-old owner of an icon of the Virgin Mary and Child, which was reputed to cry real tears and became a site of pilgrimage. In her case, it was an undiagnosed cancer that killed her, shortly after she claimed to have been visited by a stranger saying 'God was calling'." In fact, she had been ill before and during the interview.

"Last month brought the strangest case of all, when Halil Baev, a herbalist, was killed in a fire that destroyed his house. Having been rescued once, Baev would have survived, had he not returned in an attempt to rescue his black cat. Nova TV, which transmits Otechestven Front, says they are aware of the supposed curse, and are 'looking into it'." This "case" doesn't even refer to Fatherland Front but to another TV programme presented by me, which is in a completely different format.

It is not nice to make fun of other people's misfortunes. Besides, Fatherland Front has been on air for five years, and has interviewed more than 300 people. If six of them have died this is a normal mortality rate. It is well known that a big part of Europe is hardly surviving, and this is what we show. Perhaps Benedictus believes the whole of Bulgaria is cursed?

*The title has been changed by Novinite.com

HERE is the original Guardian article.

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Tags: Martin Karbovski, Fatherland Front, The Guardian, TV show, cursed

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