Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

More windows on Greek TV than my house

mega-windows.jpgPhoto from

Anyone participating in the scourge that is Greek TV should be aware of these guidelines.

The TV schedule is an estimate

Just because “Sex in the City” is on at midnight today, it doesn’t mean it’ll be on the same time tomorrow. It may start at 23:00, 23:40 or 1:00. If you’re setting your VCR or DVD player, allow at least one hour before and one hour after the program’s scheduled time slot. Also don’t be surprised if the program never comes on and you tape something completely different. It’s not you.

Here today, gone tomorrow

If you’ve been watching “America’s Next Top Model” or “Gossip Girl” every day at 16:00 for the past month, it can suddenly change to 17:00 mid-week, switch from weekdays to only Saturdays or disappear altogether, even if it’s the middle of the series. Don’t get attached. The good thing is reruns will probably start again next month, so be patient.

Channels tend to play ancient TV series from America & Australia

Shows like “ALF,” “The Nanny” and “Bewitched” run now and again, and some people actually like it. There are some series, such as “Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place” that I’d never even heard of until I lived here. If you missed seeing them as a kid, here’s your chance.

It’s funnier dubbed in Greek

“The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross and his happy little clouds is even funnier dubbed in Greek — the voice, the choice of expressions, the laughing. For those keeping track, yes he’s dead (rest his soul) — like many other stars of ancient series playing here — but he’s got a second life in Greece.

CAPS mean nothing

Just because the show is CAPPED in Greek TV guides to indicate an English-language program, be prepared to hear Oprah speak Greek. There is no way to know when a program will be dubbed or subtitled, or half dubbed and half subtitled. Sometimes the earlier showing is dubbed, and the 2 a.m. showing is subtitled; sometimes not. Sometimes a BBC program will be half in English and half in Greek with people interviewed in French or German, so you’re in luck if you like inconsistency and linguistic buffets.


Nothing is better than the original, but you can’t see it

“Ugly Betty” is an award-winning show in America originally from Colombia, but in Greece they had “Maria H Askima” for your viewing (dis)pleasure. There’s also a badly filmed, cheap knock-off of CSI complete with plastic guns and ridiculous fight scenes.

When STAR played the commercial (above) for a new spy/assassin series called “Mr. and Mrs. Kourkoulis,” I thought it was a joke. Nope, unfortunately, it was real. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but maybe it’s just unoriginal laziness.

If you can’t afford a taverna, one will be provided for you at no cost

There is a plethora of programs where you can see other people having faux fun at a fake taverna, with red-and-white checked tablecloths on the same rickety tables and chairs, good/skilou singers, trays of flowers, plate-breaking, dancing, posturing and corny banter. Στην υγεια σας, Κοιτα τι εγινε and Το παρτυ της ζωης σου are sometimes on at the same time, which means you can taverna-hop, just like in real life but without face control and the expense. But it also means you’re missing out on smoke inhalation, table dancing, overpriced whiskey, temporary deafness and bad service. 😉

You can experience déjà vu every few months

Channels play the same movies or series on a three-month rotation, as if an infinite number of movies and TV shows didn’t exist. That’s great news if you like Steven Seagal from his lean to sumo years, Sylvester Stallone from mumbly to audible, Roger Moore as 007, Batman and Robin, Jean-Claude Van Damme from brawny to baldy, Wesley Snipes (not Arsenio Hall) and any movie that has a reference to Greece.

If Greek media are on strike, it gets worse with Airplane, Police Academy and Naked Gun playing in succession.

Shamefully, I once watched “Revenge of the Giant Squid” because the movie rental store was closed, and it was the only thing I hadn’t already seen.

Commercial breaks are spontaneous and lengthy

Instead of breaking programs and movies where the director or producer has provided an intentional pause, scenes are unnaturally broken while an actor is midway through his lines or during a key fight scene. And when the program returns — sometimes after an hour of news and you no longer care about how it ends — it won’t be backtracked to the beginning of the scene or the actor’s line.

Many stations run commercials for up to 10 minutes, so mute it and don’t feel bad about walking away to boil some pasta and vegetables. You have plenty of time.

Many good shows are on after midnight

Law and Order, CSI, Nip/Tuck and other shows I tolerate aren’t usually on until midnight or later. Hello, I have a job. I think it’s a bit sad to take a nap in the middle of the day just to stay up late and watch TV.

Don’t watch SKAI if spiders & snakes creep you out

Kudos to SKAI for having Eco News and shows from Animal Planet, but please give the slimy, venomous and scaly things a rest. Nearly every time I happen by, there’s a close-up of something being killed, cocooned or swallowed whole. Bleck!

More windows on Greek news than in your house

Although 7 of 10 viewers polled said they are unhappy with the quality of TV and Greek news in particular, nothing has dampened the trend of παράθυρα (windows) in which people/politicians are placed in 5, 6 or 9 slots to debate a subject but instead shout over each other without taking a breath or letting anyone finish a sentence. It’s like a dysfunctional Hollywood Squares without the prizes.

For the first seven years I lived in Greece, I didn’t own a TV. A few people had tried giving me TVs when they moved away, but I’d end up donating them to others. Between work, learning Greek, clubbing and dealing with bureaucracy, there wasn’t time and I wasn’t home. I also suspected there was nothing to watch.

I finally broke down and bought a TV on the day of the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremonies, during which I cried more than my Greek friends. I cried again during the Closing Ceremonies but in OAKA amongst thousands from the Greek diaspora.

Now, unless I’m watching BBC, CNN, “Apodexeis” with Nikos Evangelatos, “Fakeloi” or a DVD, it pretty much sits in the corner and collects dust, though I also blast the TV volume to drown out the incessant whining and screaming of children of all ages.

And for the record, I have only two actual windows in the house; the rest are doors with windows.

In the News

Poisonous Trash on Greek TV
Scraping the bottom of Greek TV’s barrel
Greek media sinks to new low: Playboy weather girl becomes TV reporter

Related posts

Greek media, now with less racism
Give me a break!

The Author

Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”

  • was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites/forums run by people without credentials.
  • @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 15 years experience.

Please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.


  Kat wrote @ February 11th, 2008 at 22:04

Pamela – Thanks for stopping by! When I lived in Spain, I do recall almost everything being dubbed on TV and in the theater, even if the listing said it would be subtitled. The voices they choose for certain people, such as Sylvester Stallone or Jean Claude Van Damme was the most hilarious part…not even close! Thankfully, I understand Spanish…or wait a minute, maybe that’s a curse. 😉

  Costas wrote @ May 9th, 2008 at 08:18

To all.

I found this site while searching for info on Aussies living in Greece and believe me I am glad I did. Love the way everything is written, the articles, the comments, the smiley faces. You have all made me laugh so much and for that I thank you heaps…

Until later,


PS: Currenly in Melbourne Australia and soon packing for Greece.

Kat Reply:

C – You’re welcome and thank you! I’ve checked on you to see if you’ve posted, but nothing so far. Hope you’re OK.

  Sebastian wrote @ July 8th, 2008 at 20:18

Oh, I would get so irritated at the way the commercials would simply break off without warning. Is it so difficult to insert that momentary dark screen that helps one brace himself before the onslaught of useless ads pushing things you’ll never buy? As if that wasn’t enough, the commercials last ten minutes or more.

Another thing I noticed was when a trailer would come on for a Greek film – especially if it was a comedy – the trailer would last for nearly five minutes, and it would showcase *every*single*joke* to be seen in the film. They didn’t even attempt to make a trailer that gives a glimpse of some halfway interesting plot. They just gave every “funny” part away. After having seen the trailer, I doubt there was any point to paying to see the film at a theatre.

In Greek television’s defence: when I was a young boy living there, I realized in years to come, that I had seen a fair amount of really good, obscure, cult films on Greek TV. To their credit, they showcased some rather bleak films from underground American filmmakers.

Abel Ferrara’s “Ms .45″ is an example that stands out in my memory. There were others, such as Paul Verhoeven’s “Flesh+Blood” and Hector Babenco’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” These films all deal with some very adult issues. I doubt you’d ever see them on HBO or Cinemax here in the States, which would rather give their viewers films with people blowing stuff up or softcore sleaze.

Kat Reply:

S – Hi there! It’s like you read my mind. We were watching a show yesterday and the main actor was thinking of something, then all of a sudden it’s a screen with fish on it. Eh? No break or nothing, like it was part of a dream sequence. Then you realize, no it’s just improper cuts to commercials. Also a good point about movie trailers. Sometimes the trailers aren’t even interesting enough to lure you. 😉

True, there are some redeemable old movies showing here. Many I’ve seen when I was in the USA, along with GR classics that have their place. If you come back, take comfort in knowing that you can still see those same movies.

Thank you for making a comment here, as well as sharing your experience on the military post. It greatly benefits others. I’m also flattered you find this site helpful and have done your part to spread the word.

  Federico wrote @ October 8th, 2008 at 13:34

Hi and good job for this site, it has helped me out many time.

Just a correction about the original ugly betty, its not the american one the original. The original one is the Colombian one, and yes your right there is nothing like the original it was way funnier in spanish with the colombian cast.

Cheers F

Kat Reply:

F – Thanks for saying hello today. Actually, I did know that (and said so), plus PIC’s comment above yours from last year points out the same thing. I’ve seen it in Spanish, and I agree with you that it’s funnier.

  Matt wrote @ October 10th, 2008 at 11:34

As an Australian, I was absolutely horrified to see SKIPPY THE BUSH KANGAROO dubbed in Greek!! I had to SMS everybody back home. Skippy is long gone in Australia so it was a spinout to see that he has a new lease-on-life in Greece.

And what the hell is with showing Getaway (an Australian travel show)? Really, how many Greeks would be interested in wine-sampling and golfing in South Australia’s Barossa Valley? AND they dub that in Greek too! Maybe Australian English is too difficult to understand?

Kat Reply:

M – Great to have your insight on GR TV also, with respect to Australian shows. I read your comment to my fiance, and he laughed and shook his head. I always feel it’s better to show nothing than show ancient or irrelevant shows, and I wish they’d just subtitle things instead of dub them so more of us can try and enjoy them in their original form…or at least understand them. Although I have to admit that the voices they choose are funny. Ever seen Jamie Oliver speak Greek? It ain’t pretty.

  A wrote @ October 13th, 2008 at 20:28

Well, here in the US, the number of windows is directly proportionate to the severity of the crisis: as Jon Stewart explains, we know we are in trouble when they use the Octobox

Kat Reply:

A – LOL, the octobox. We sometimes have the nine-square version, which looks like the Hollywood squares game show but is a lot less amusing.

  Matt wrote @ October 16th, 2008 at 09:36

Kat – hehehe. I just assume that they show Skippy in Greece so it gives the Greeks something to pay out on to their relatives in Australia…lame reason, but I can’t think of any other! I doubt that Greek kids rush home from school, throw down their bag, jump on the couch with a packet of crisps to watch the Adventures of Skippy!

And Jamie Oliver speaking ANY language isn’t pretty. I almost prefer him dubbed in Greek! 🙂

Kat Reply:

M – I actually like Jamie Oliver sometimes, but I’m rarely home to see any of these shows.

  Annoula wrote @ December 23rd, 2008 at 05:34

I found your blog today and I’ve had a fun two hours looking at all your posts.

I live in the US, and we have some Greek satellite channels…I have to agree with whoever above praised the show “Sthn Ygeia Mas”…It’s about the only show I can watch without getting aggravated! The music is usually among the best Greece has to offer and there’s usually no long-winded pointless arguing!

Have you watched the reality shows like Famestory and now X-Factor? Being a fan of musical competitions and Greek music, I hopelessly watch these shows in an attempt to garner some tiny bits of entertainment, but without success. The production is horrible, shows go on for hours and hours, the contestants sing for about half an hour total, and the rest of the time, the judges argue with each other over the most trivial things, contradict themselves, and then try to show they know something about music. And yet I watch every week just for that 1/2 hour…sigh.

This past summer I had the pleasure of reliving my middle school years by watching 90210, dubbed in Greek! Hilarious.

Kat Reply:

Annoula — Hello! I do agree that Stin Ygeia Mas has some good music, but my main issue with the format is how sad it is to watch people in a taverna instead of actually being in one. As Chloe said, “Despair!”

I can’t watch Fame Story, X-Factor or anything else without wanting to retch. It’s painfully sad to watch people who think they have talent but don’t…then watch judges who don’t have any talent themselves give critiques. If they got a trap door that dropped contestants or judges off the stage, I would consider watching. 😀 But yes, it’s sometimes difficult to turn away; it’s a compulsion, much like rubbernecking after a horrific freeway accident.

About 90210, I hear you. My male counterpart sometimes puts it on because that’s how desperate he is for entertainment. To me, it’s like a twisted pageant of what they looked like before hairpieces and bad plastic surgery. 😉

  Γιώργος wrote @ January 11th, 2009 at 12:37

Θέλω να πληροφορηθώ μερικά στοιχεία για τον Αμερικάνικο Σταθμό της Βάσης του Ελληνικού. Ήταν ένας σταθμός με μεγάλη ακροαματικότητα και επηρέασε πολύ την μουσική κουλτούρα της εποχής, κυρίως τους νέους. Υπάρχουν κάποιες αναφορές και ονόματα σιο Διαδίκτυο για το 1964 και εντεύθεν έχω όμως την εντύπωση πως ο σταθμός αυτός είχε αρχίσει τις εκπομπές του από πολύ νωρίτερα. Ισως και πριν το 1950. Ποιός θα μπορούσε να με πληροφορήσει σχετικά;

Kat Reply:

Unfortunately, I don’t have any information regarding your request.

  KT wrote @ January 21st, 2009 at 21:48

I am sick of X-factor all those idiots who think they know everything. Why does everyone in Greece want to become famous …we have enough singers and actors..

  ntGrits wrote @ January 23rd, 2009 at 00:08

“Don’t Do anything til I return…”

— Last Quote from Alexander the Great upon leaving Greece

(and apparently they followed his words to the limit)

[…] -Έμαθε τι σημαίνει Ελληνική τηλεόραση και γιατί το μέσο δελτίο ειδήσεων έχει περισσότερα παράθυρα από ότι το σπίτι της.  (εδώ) […]

  Eric wrote @ March 4th, 2009 at 11:51

Hi Kat, love your site/blog. Wrote a post about it. Cheers.

Readers: Link is listed above as a trackback, and the article is in Greek

  MCK wrote @ April 8th, 2009 at 16:53

I am Greek and I rarely watch Greek TV. I am well aware of the trash it serves! Having watched American or British or German TV for years,however, made me realize that nowadays tv programms are crap in every single country in the world! It is undoubtly a bussiness where profit is the only thing that really matters. The only quality Law and Order, CSI and Nip/Tuck have concerns technology and ONLY technology! The sound and picture are obviously better, but those programms and many others like them have no depth and nothing to offer. They amuse us, they put our brains to sleep while time keep running and we can’t catch up. They instill fake dreams into our minds that fills the pockets of the rich and empties the pockets of the poor and our own dreams lay forgotten.

Kat Reply:

If you put it that way, how is it different from movies, music, stage theater or any form of entertainment? In any case, as I’ve said many times, this post was meant to be humorous and I do not consider TV an important part of my life. However, it’s interesting that a Greek study found that most Greeks watch double the amount of TV in comparison to many countries worldwide. Also, TV has no power over anyone, unless an individual allows himself/herself to be tricked, faked and forgetful.

  Emma wrote @ May 7th, 2010 at 04:24

Just found this site and it’s hilarious. I’m a former ex-pat who returned (gratefully) to her home country, Canada, after 3.5yrs of living in Greece. I was there from 1995-99 (the Golden years!). Too bad we never met! I remember those bloody commercials and news breaks. Would forget what I was watching.. Anyways, I used to watch this Greek comedy show called “Amman!” faithfully, run by 4 young guys, probably in their 20s or early 30s at the most. It was a riot! Still remember it. Is it still around?

I have a question for you and those other foreigners you mention who have a hard time of it in Greece with work, etc. My question is this – why are you and they doing this?? I was there, I know. Especially the educated multilingual foreigners who come from 1st world countries like yourself. I’m not disparaging, mind, I just desperately want to understand why put up with less $, and benefits, no stability, security or retirement plans, no $ (or very little of it) saved to show for all these yrs, a paternalistic, sexist and chauvinistic country where anyone over 30 or 35 (men) cannot get work!? Again, I just want to understand and would welcome the opportunity to share my stories…

Kat Reply:

A.M.A.N. went off the air in 2007, but the guys still have a talk show in the evening and sometimes show clips. A lot of what they parodied back then still applies.

Regarding your second question, we all have our own personal/professional reasons for being where we are and the choices we make. The fact you’re even asking the question indicates there’s no explanation anyone can give you to help you understand why.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.