Since its inception, broadcast television in Italy has cherished and safeguarded its pedagogical vocation. Among its aims, Rai is compelled to provide a plausible and accurate (or verisimilar) representation of Italy’s national identity and sociocultural history throughout its programming. This function has been manifestly accomplished through the news and documentaries. In the last two decades, however, more experimentation has been carried out on TV dramas. A peculiar example is the 2021 medical drama Cuori (Riccardo Donna), co-produced by Rai Fiction and Aurora Tv, which aired on Raiuno’s primetime. Set in 1960s Turin, the series is inspired by true historical events regarding a group of Italian pioneers of medicine who revolutionized the field of heart surgery, experimenting with new techniques and challenging the limits of science of the time. Building on an extensive fieldwork research conducted on the set during the shooting of the second season of the series, we wish to focus on how a media company as Rai can adapt the format and narrative structure of a contemporary medical drama such as Cuori to its public service mission. We will address this issue from a production standpoint which will analyze the use of a multiplicity of historical sources and consultants to develop the plot, set design, costumes, and actor performances. Our preliminary findings show that a calculated blend of historical accuracy with the standards of the medical genre was set in place to appeal to a wide Italian audience.
Medical drama; public Service; national history; production strategies; ethnographic fieldwork.