ROME — A localized version of “Saturday Night Live” is launching in Italy where it will help drive ratings on satcaster Sky Italia’s free-to-air channel TV8.

NBCUniversal International Formats has signed a deal with Sky Italia for the local version which will mark the twelfth international remake of the iconic U.S. show.

“Saturday Night Live Italia” will launch on April 7 fronted by popular local TV and film personality Claudio Bisio who is best known as the longstanding host of Mediaset comedy show “Zelig” and was more recently a judge on Italy’s “Got Talent.” 

“For us comedians ‘Saturday’ is the utmost source of inspiration; it’s everything,” Bisio said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera. He added that, just like the U.S. version, he hoped that the show’s sketches and other segments “can go on to have a life even beyond Saturday.”

The first episode of “Saturday Night Live Italia” will open with prominent local news anchor Enrico Mentana as Bisio’s sidekick and will feature appearances by pop star Giorgia, Sky star host Alessandro Cattelan, and Bisio’s former Zelig co-host Vanessa Incontrada. Upcoming guests include Italy’s global porn icon Rocco Siffredi.

Featuring an ensemble of leading Italian talent and comedians led by Bisio (pictured) “each episode will mix topical and political subject matter, with observational humour and parody,” according to a statement. Italy recently experienced a political earthquake that left the country saddled with a hung parliament, so there should be no shortage of fresh material to draw on from the political sphere.

The Italian version will be produced by Fatma Ruffini’s FTM Entertainment.

 “It is great to be partnering with Sky Italia on SNL,” said Ana Langenberg, SVP, Format Sales & Production, NBCUniversal International Formats, in a statement. “As such an iconic brand, the show will remain true to its format, but we can’t wait to see FTM Entertainment and Sky put their own twist on it to keep it fresh and culturally relevant for local audiences.”

TV8 is a mainstream free-to-air channel launched by Sky Italia in 2015 after being acquired from Viacom. Positioned as channel 8 on Italy’s digital terrestrial roster it has systematically been upping it game over the past couple of years and currently commands a roughly 2% average audience share. Headed by Antonella d’Errico who is senior director Sky Terrestrial Channels, it is a free-to-air window for Sky’s sports, movies, news and original productions.

Other localized versions of SNL include the shows in France, Poland, South Korean and Egypt where despite its being purged of political references last month “Saturday Night Live Arabia” was pulled by Egypt’s media regulator, accused of violating “ethical and professional criteria” through repeated “sexual phrases and insinuations.”

In separate news, Russia’s leading public broadcaster, Rossiya 1, has recommissioned a second season of the local adaptation of “House M.D.” from NBCUniversal International Formats after the Russian remake grew to become the number one show in its timeslot.

Shooting on Season 2 of the Russian “House” will start this month with Non-Stop Productions producing again and Russian thesp Aleksei Serebryakov (“McMafia,” “Leviathan”) returning to lead the cast as Dr. Andrei Richter.