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Getting real


China wants to shake off its reputation for TV piracy and plagiarism and become a rising creative-content force. The country’s stations, including public broadcaster CCTV and Shanghai Media Group, are moving away from cheap studio shows and versions of international formats such as The Voice and X Factor. Now they are looking to launch fresh, original ideas that can be sold around the globe.

The first Chinese format to travel outside of the People’s Republic is Sing my Song, a talent contest in which successful singer-songwriters help find a pop star that can succeed with original material. Produced by Star China, the series initially aired on CCTV3 earlier this year. UK commercial broadcaster ITV has acquired the foreign rights to the format.

There are a number of other concepts that a new generation of Chinese TV execs hope can translate overseas. Zhejiang TV, broadcasting to Hangzhou city and the 55 million people in Zhejiang province itself, is betting on a slew of music-based reality shows. Enlight Media, which is behind the Chinese versions of The Biggest Loser and Clash of the Choirs, believes that original shows such as The Birthday Party of Super Stars for Shenzhen TV can help its global cause. Indie producer Wang Gang has sold a number of new foreign-friendly formats including science reality series The Strongest Brain (see below) to Jiangsu TV but, he says, “It’s high time for us to change the landscape. We have to adapt.”

Made in China:

  1. The Strongest Brain (Jiangsu TV):
    Science format with a dash of reality that aims to discover people with very high IQs through the use of mental challenges and quizzes. Produced by Big Brother creator Endemol and sold to broadcasters in Italy (Rai), Germany (ZDF) and Spain (Antena 3)
  2. Designed in China (CCTV9):
    Three-hour factual format on the rise of Chinese designers in fashion, product design and architecture. Created by UK production company True North and sold to French broadcaster France Ô.
  3. A Bite of China (CCTV1):
    Series exploring the history of food in China, featuring celebrity chefs such as Shen Hongfei and Chua Lam.
  4. If You are the One (Jiangsu TV):
    This dating show, in which a man chooses from 24 women, is one of China’s most successful programmes, with over 36 million viewers. It has been acquired by Australian public broadcaster SBS.

Língua tome

Rio de Janeiro [BOOK]

Brazil has had that little football tournament and the cachaça and Antarctica beer are restocked, making right now the best time to visit. As you’ll know, cariocas take nothing to the beach save shades and small change but you might get away with Carioca Lifestyle A-Z from publisher André Eppinghaus and former Midori House parishioner Saul Taylor. It’s a sun-drenched phrasebook to smooth the path from praia to parada.

No-jack city


He’s a demure little tinker, the Mini Blink. He looks innocent as a mouse (computer, not Jerry) but can boost the average smartphone or laptop user’s audiophile credentials a hundred-fold at the touch of a button. From the research labs of august UK hi-fi maker Arcam, this is the Bluetooth link between your wireless devices and sound system, improving quality and dispensing with headphone-jack playback.

Mini adventures

Germany [BOOK]

Our pals at that ever-interesting neue Kraftpaket of German publishing, Gestalten, have a spiffy new range of children’s books. Little Gestalten veers from straight-talking titles on puberty (Does This Happen to Everyone? ’Fraid so) to fairytales tailor-made for a classy reissue. Issun Bôshi tells of a childless Japanese couple blessed with the titular fully formed but mini One-Inch Boy; Elsa and the Night is the tale of a girl making friends with the scary dark itself. Beautifully illustrated and uniquely presented, the line is a gift for godparents looking for one.

Little Gestalten’s big titles:

  1. Elsa and the Night
    by Jöns Mellgren
  2. Issun Bôshi
    by Icinori
  3. Does This Happen To Everyone?
    by Antje Helms and Jan von Holleben
  4. The Zoo’s Grand Opening
    by Judith Drews
  5. Alphabetics
    by Patrick and Traci Concepción

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