Rome: Veteran Italian actor Terence Hill is standing down from the long-running television series Don Matteo, in which he has played the lead role for more than 20 years.
Hill first appeared on Italian television screens as Don Matteo Bondini – a priest in the town of Gubbio in the Umbrian province of Perugia – in January 2000.
The popular TV series went on to become one of the most successful and long-lived on Italian state broadcaster Rai1.
Don Matteo is a wise, helpful character who is skilled at investigating local crime stories, in collaboration with his Carabiniere friend, Antonio Cecchini, played by comedian Nino Frassica.
But now – after 22 years, 13 seasons and 259 episodes – Terence Hill has said goodbye to the beret-wearing priest and his trusty bicycle.
The 82-year-old actor, who starred in spaghetti westerns alongside the late Bud Spencer, has filmed his last episode in Spoleto where he received a send-off from the cast and production team. But how exactly will the priest-detective leave the stage? This has yet to be revealed.
However, according to La Stampa newspaper, the new lead character will be Don Massimo, played by 50-year-old Italian actor Raoul Bova who will reportedly swap the bicycle for a motorbike.
The ten episodes in the 13th season of Don Matteo will be broadcast on Rai1 in 2022, probably starting in January as in previous seasons.