Survival show may air in Europe

By Xu Fan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-12-17 09:04:01

Survival show may air in Europe

Bear Grylls, British explorer.[Photo provided to China Daily]

British explorer Bear Grylls' Chinese mainland TV debut has garnered attention from major European buyers, making it the first Chinese outdoors reality show to be sold overseas.

Survival Games, a 12-episode weekly reality show aired by Shanghai's Dragon TV since October, is the first Chinese commission for Grylls, who shot to fame for his challenging adventures in the wild, in the hit series Man vs Wild and Born Survivor.

The heated demand for reality shows has lured Chinese TV makers to localize Grylls' expeditions in China.

In Survival Games, Gryll guides eight Chinese celebrities with a Chinese co-presenter on a 16-day adventure in the tough forests of Southwest China's Guizhou province. The British star speaks English that is subtitled in Chinese.

Sources close to Yunji Media, one of the Chinese producers, tell China Daily that several major channels in Europe will broadcast the show on the continent, though details have yet to be released.

A feature-length movie based on the show is also in the pipeline, according to the sources.

However, the global interest and an upcoming big-screen title may not help its disappointing reception on the small screen.

Most industry insiders regard the show-premiering at a low 0.5-percent rating that has slumped to 0.42 percent-a market failure, considering the huge cost and Grylls' worldwide fame.

Ratings are collected from a 50-city survey, according to the tracking website The latest figures show Survival Games taking the 13th slot, far below the leading show Running Man's 4 percent share.

"Most TV viewers in China are middle-aged housewives and the elderly, who have pretty limited knowledge of Grylls and his survival shows," says Han Yingnan, a Beijing-based critic.

"The show is eye-catching in that it requires celebrities to eat some disgusting, raw creatures (such as earthworms and ox eyes), but it doesn't make sense since the stars are not starving but rather showing off," Han says. "When they eat some worms at noon, they still have crackers at night."

Yu Chao, the show's chief director, says: "We're a TV crew specializing in documentaries. We treat celebrities like ordinary people, and taking risks is a daily mission," he says.

Grylls still has strong optimism about the Chinese market.

"Survivor Games is all about inspiring people to overcome their own fears and boundaries," he says.

"It's about seeing that positive transformation in these Chinese stars."

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