Big feast on small screen
Updated: 2016-03-17 08:07
By Xu Fan(China Daily)
Jointly produced by China and the United Kingdom, the three-part documentary, Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth, has proven a hit in both countries and other nations.[Photo provided to China Daily]
A three-part documentary, Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth, which records the experiences of five British presenters as they immerse themselves in the Lunar New Year festivities, is making waves both in China and abroad.
For most people who have never been to China, the Spring Festival－which creates the world's largest human migration annually－is difficult to comprehend.
But a three-part documentary, Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth, provides a shortcut to understanding the country and its culture.
Its three one-hour episodes－Migration, Reunion and Celebration－record five British presenters' journeys as they experience how the Lunar New Year is celebrated.
Jointly produced by China and the United Kingdom, the series began airing on BBC in mid-February and was released on Chinese video-streaming sites on Feb 29.
The Chinese-subtitled version was broadcast on CCTV 9, China's State-owned documentary channel, from March 12 to 14.
The series was very popular in the UK. The first episode received 1.61 million views, the second 1.87 million and the third saw 1.18 million, according to China Intercontinental Communication Co Ltd, the Chinese producer.
Back in China, the series has garnered more than 12 million views from online broadcasters.
Stephanie Fremaux, a media-theory lecturer at Birmingham City University, says that the program shows "how similar Western and Eastern cultures are".
"What stood out most for me was the segment with the Hairy Bikers celebrating New Year with a host family. This showed the importance of family and tradition, again universal themes that we can all understand and relate to," she writes in an e-mail to the Chinese producers.
Yang Jian, the series' producer from China Intercontinental, says China's economic development and increasing global presence are attracting a growing number of foreign studios to make content about the country.
"Speaking of Chinese culture, the Spring Festival is obviously among the most spectacular events. It showcases the Chinese value of family connections among others," he says.
He says that while the idea of making the documentary had taken root a couple of years earlier, work on the program was finally initiated only last year after British studio Lion Television reached a coproduction agreement with them.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to UK last October also gave an impetus for the two countries to focus on more cultural cooperation.
For Chinese producers, it had been a good experience working with their British counterparts.
"They are very professional and hardworking," says Yang.
While shooting a snow-and-ice festival in northeastern China's Harbin, the British crew stayed outdoors in -30 C for a long time.