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And now the Death Row Show, with dead men talking

Sun 2012-Mar-4 @ +08 13:11:11 pm

New exposure for old story about China’s hit TV reality show

Talk about coming back from the grave: a documentary called “Dead Men Talking”, about China’s hit Saturday night TV reality show featuring interviews with condemned prisoners, is getting big play in the UK and on Yahoo today. It’s only six months old.

But then if you haven’t heard about it before — or have forgotten that you did — it’s still news to you, isn’t it? Something like that is what produces quite a lot of rehashes in print and on air.

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Robin Newell produced Dead Men Talking last year, which was featured at IDFA, the international documentary film festival in Amsterdam (trailer, above). Yesterday, the UK Daily Mail gasped breathlessly: “The Execution Factor: It was designed as propaganda to deter would-be criminals. Instead interviews on death row have become China’s new TV hit” in the standfirst to its story, a promo piece for the BBC.

But the story’s six months old. What’s new is that the BBC has an revised version of Dead Men Talking containing about 20% fresh content according to the US public broadcaster PBS, a partner and client of the BBC. The PBS listing reads:

Ding Yu, a young, smart, and attractive journalist from China’s Henan Province, delivers the ultimate reality television show to a nation of 1.3 billion people. In her weekly primetime TV series called Interviews Before Execution, she goes into prison cells and interviews condemned prisoners shortly before they are executed.

With unique and unprecedented access, Interviews Before Execution takes viewers into the nightmare worlds of violent criminals sentenced to death—and of the TV journalist who is their last connection to this world.(New version of Dead Men Talking, made for BBC, with 20% new content.)PBS

The BBC’s new version goes on air next Monday night (March 12). Cue the Daily Mail’s huge story. So huge, it was picked up this morning by Yahoo Australia, which is co-branded with the 7 News TV station. It also sells stale news as new, with the headline TV show that interviews death row prisoners a hit in China.

The series has made a household name of Ms Ding, who is married and has a young son. She is often recognised in the street while doing her shopping with her family, the Mail says.

Denying her show is exploitative, she said: ‘Some viewers might consider it cruel to ask a criminal to do an interview when they are about to be executed. On the contrary, they want to be heard. When I am face-to-face with them I feel sorry and regretful for them. But I don’t sympathise with them, for they should pay a heavy price for their wrongdoing. They deserve it.’

However, she admits to being haunted by those she has interviewed.

The Mail says she came up with the idea for the show, and her boss, Lu Peijin, head of TV Legal Channel in Henan province, agreed immediately. Ms Ding’s feminine image endears her to both audiences and the prisoners she interviews. ‘We say she is the beauty with the beasts,’ the Mail quotes him as saying. (Bet the reporter couldn’t resist the old pun.)

Well, it’s news if you haven’t heard it before, somewhat like the Zen puzzle about the tree falling in the forest.

Now, let’s see, what else is new around here?


One Comment
  1. Prem Das permalink
    Sun 2012-Mar-4 @ +08 17:39:39 pm 17:39

    Let us keep in mind one salient fact, we are all going to die. So if some die at mid-day instead of midnight it is the luck of the draw. It is like being born with wooden spoon in your mouth. Instead of leisure you find your lot is toil. You accept it. In my mind, all this wailing and beating of breast is plain undignified.

    That vulture natured woman, whose idea it was for this TV show, her claim to being haunted by the victims has to be taken with a handful of salt. We have all heard of the saying “the female of the species is the more dangerous”.

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