Badminton greats face off in Chinese reality show by coaching celebrity proteges and playing an impromptu match.
NATIONAL shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei is the latest Malaysian to participate in reality shows in China, lending his stardom and racquet skills to Yes! Coach.
In this sports-themed reality show, which is currently in its third season on Dragon TV, Chong Wei assumes the role of a badminton coach for a team of celebrities, including Taiwanese sweetheart Michelle Chen, Hong Kong songstress Joey Yung and heartthrob Aarif Lee.
But the highlight of this segment on badminton is the interaction between Chong Wei and his nemesis Lin Dan, who is also one of the star coaches.
The show is prominently promoting the duo’s appearance on its official Weibo (Chinese Twitter) page as their “34th face-off”.
The reality show fever is still running high in China. Reality competitions, featuring celebrities as judges, continue to attract a lot of viewers.
A popular programme, Where Are We Going, Dad?, which brings celebrity fathers and their offspring to rural places, is now airing its third season.
Several Malaysians have gained fame on the platform of contest-based reality shows in China.
Former newscaster Victor Gu and University of Malaya Master of Laws student Gan Yee Chin showcased their oratory skills on I am Speaker and You Can You Bibi respectively.
Hijab-donning Shila Amzah wowed the judges with her powerful vocals on Asian Wave and I am A Singer, while Melody Tan shot to fame with a breathtaking rendition of Wang Lee Hom’s Things That You Don’t Know on Voice of China.
Reality shows featuring celebrities as participants run on a similar formula – artistes are roped in to attempt various tasks that force them out of their comfort zone.
Their supposedly unscripted reaction to real-life situations has high entertainment value.
In the case of Yes! Coach, the stars’ frustration and joy as they perfected their footwork and shots were highlighted in close-up shots. Cameras were also set up in their bedrooms to capture their casual interaction with each other.
To spice things up, the show also made sure to include scenes that one would not normally see during the telecasted matches between professional athletes.
Chong Wei, in the second episode of the show, demonstrated hitting a shuttlecock into a watermelon. The precision and the strength of his shot left the celebrities in awe.
So when he had to “punish” the celebrities later in the episode, they were begging for leniency because the punishment was him aiming the shuttlecock at their buttocks.
In the first episode, Hong Kong star Nicholas Tse, who made a special appearance, sparred with Lin Dan with a ladle.
While the appearance of other trainees and university students was also woven into the shows, it is undeniably the celebrities who are what viewers want to see.
However, celebrity worship is a source of worry for the Chinese regulator, which has on more than one occasion stepped in to control the content of reality shows.
The Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), in its latest statement released last Wednesday, advised producers to raise the ratio of ordinary people appearing in reality shows.
“Abandon the wrong perception of using celebrities to pump up ratings and correct the tendency to rely solely on the stars,” the six-point statement said.
The suggestion also recommended the TV stations to take the initiative to blend socialist core values and avoid vulgarity.
SARFT also took a swipe at programmes which were adapted from hugely popular foreign shows, instructing the local authorities to encourage original programmes with Chinese characteristics.
The participation of minors should also be minimised, it added.
Past restrictions imposed by the regulator on reality shows included limiting the broadcast of such programmes by putting a restriction on their quantity as well as screen time.
Yes! Coach, which airs on Fridays, should have no problem meeting the requirements of SARFT as it promotes a healthy lifestyle, teamwork and sportsmanship through sports training.
For tonight’s episode, Chong Wei and Lin Dan’s “showdown” will materialise through the artistes, who will be split into two teams and led by each of the badminton players.
Badminton fans will also get to watch Chong Wei playing against Lin Dan in an impromptu segment, as revealed by Chong Wei in an interview with Chinese media.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.