Chinese audiences: Big Brother is coming to your screens

Big Brother sees its contestants or "housemates" isolated from the outside world and monitored constantly.

Story highlights

  • Launching in early 2015, the first-ever Chinese version of Big Brother will air for ten weeks
  • Will follow the format of the hugely successful reality show popular across the world
  • Comes at a time when China has been clamping down on "excessive, vulgar" content
"Big Brother is watching you."
This is the sinister maxim repeated throughout George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four," his dark portrayal of life inside an authoritarian state characterized by its omniscient and paranoid leadership.
Fortunately this kind of dystopian nightmare is confined to fiction for most of us -- or more recently the world of reality television with the phenomenally successful Big Brother show, where groups of hapless "housemates" try to outlast each in an isolated environment where their every move is monitored 24 hours a day.
And now the show is coming to China's small screen, an irony that won't be lost on many in a country that purportedly has more people employed to censor the Internet than its army (the world's largest) has soldiers.
Launching in early 2015, the first-ever Chinese version of Big Brother will air for ten weeks, with production in China set to begin shortly, according to Endemol China -- part of the Asian arm of one of the world's leading multi-platform program makers -- who will partner with Chinese digital video platform Youku Tudou Inc. to produce the show.
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"In a market that annually generates hundreds of billions of video views, partnering with the number one digital video platform will allow us to bring Big Brother to a young audience and deliver the most immersive, interactive and unique experience to fans across the nation," said Endemol's CEO of Asian Operations Arjen van Mierlo.
Victor Koo, Chairman and CEO of Youku Tudou Inc. said: "We are delighted to be joining forces with Endemol to finally bring this groundbreaking format to China. Fifteen years after its launch, Big Brother continues to be a worldwide hit that engages passionate young fans across multiple platforms."
'Excessive' and 'vulgar'
The announcement comes at a time when authorities are concerned about the lack of originality and diversity of Chinese programs, as well as "excessive" and "vulgar" entertainment -- with foreign content in their crosshairs.
Shows such as "Chinese Idol," a talent show that replicates the formula of the hugely popular "American idol," have been a huge success with viewers and sponsors alike.
But as of this year, satellite broadcasters are only permitted to buy the rights to more than one foreign-made program per year.
Big Brother, which has been running for 15 years, continues to be a hit in the USA, Europe, Australia, Canada and Israel, as well across Latin America, Scandinavia, Africa and Asia.