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TV Supplement

rain 17 °C

I've heard on the grapevine that ITV has launched a celebrity dancing competition in a revenge attack on the Beeb for setting The Voice against BGT a couple of years ago. Well, from what I also hear, and I don't know the line up of either programme, it won't take much to beat the ratings of what has been described as the second worst line up in the history of Strictly.

As you can see, I'm not missing British TV at all, especially when I can enjoy such wonders as American X Factor with a Russian voice over for Simon Cowell's gasps as his contestants aren't voted through and for Steve Jones' commentary - I can almost hear the Welsh accent!

The only Mongolian TV I've managed to see was one night in a ger, shared with a nomadic couple, their six month old daughter and their extended family and friends from neighbouring gers. It seems we were in the only ger in the village with a TV.

The satellite dish was picking up Korean soap/dramas dubbed into Mongolian, and although I couldn't understand a word, the facial expressions and tones of their voices gave you a good idea of the plot. They seemed to go on for hours and as I drifted off to sleep - I heard a familiar voice. It was the late night movie (late night being about 8:45pm) and although it was still in Mongolian, I heard the name Erin Brockovich...

Chinese TV is quite a delight, I've seen plenty of it the hotels in Northern China, our suite in the Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai and even in the cupboard of a room in down town Hong Kong. It comes in a variety of genres: news, shopping, singing, martial arts dramas, but perhaps the most unusual is quiz programmes about Chinese characters.

The first of these I saw was for school children with a similar format to a spelling bee. Each child is told a phrase and they have to transpose that into a Chinese characters on an electronic drawing pad. One by one the contestants are disqualified for failing to correctly put the lines, hooks, dashes and dots in the right place.

More fascinating is the adult version, whereby one person is given a character or set of characters and they have to tell the host what it means, giving their partner a chance to grab a prize, ranging from a toaster to an air conditioning unit. The kind of good old prizes from 70s UK quizes, although perhaps not A/C units.

It's hardly surprising that these shows exist, considering that nobody knows how many characters there are (a figure which is expanding quicker than the OED) and that you need to have a grasp of at least 2,500 to read a newspaper!

It's funny then that there are only eight strokes used in the construction of a Chinese character. I do know the character for gents toilet, and that's about as much as I need to know, oh and the word for beer.

Posted by ChipFondue 05:59 Archived in China

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