CCTV New Year's Gala
|CCTV New Year's Gala|
|Directed by||Zhao An
|Presented by||Zhao Zhongxiang
|Ending theme||Can't Forget Tonight (Chinese: 难忘今宵)|
|Country of origin||China|
|Original network||China Central Television
|Original release||February 12, 1983– present|
|CCTV New Year's Gala|
|Commonly abbreviated as|
|Further abbreviated as|
The CCTV New Year's Gala, also known as the Spring Festival Gala, and commonly abbreviated in Chinese as Chunwan, is a Chinese New Year special produced by China Central Television. Shown on the eve of Chinese New Year on its flagship CCTV-1, satellite channels CCTV-4, CCTV-9, CCTV-E, CCTV-F, and CCTV-HD, the broadcast has a yearly viewership of over 700 million viewers, making it one of the premier television events of China.
The Gala has a largest audience for any entertainment show in the world, and it has often been described as among "the most watched television program in the world." The 2014 edition of the Gala drew an estimated 800 million viewers to the broadcast. The special is a variety show, often featuring musical, dance, comedy, and drama performances. It has become a ritual for many Chinese families, including overseas Chinese, to tune in to the show on Chinese New Year's Eve. Many Chunwan performers have emerged as household names in China solely as a result of their recurring appearances on the program.
History and significance
The first CCTV New Year's Gala was held in 1983. It was the successor to Beijing Television's irregular New Year's Eve broadcasts, which date back to 1956. In the 1983 show, a unique and live New Year-related stage was set up at CCTV in Beijing, with performers in the arts, drama, dance, and song selected from all over the country. For every year since then at the turn of the Lunar New Year, the program begins at 8:00PM and lasts until roughly 12:30AM on the first day of the New Year. The program has become increasingly expensive every year, and tends to be set on larger stages each time. The evolution of the New Year's Gala is, in many ways, representative of China's technological growth since 1983, with a significantly new look around every five years. Research commissioned by China Television Research (CTR) in 2007 indicated that an estimated 93.6% of families watched the Gala on television, although these ratings have been disputed.
The program has received extremely large audiences, which have grown significantly over the years. The CCTV New Year's Gala is currently the most watched annual Arts and Performance event anywhere in the world, and as such, its importance has reached over to political, economic, and ethical territory. As the Chinese New Year's Eve is a time where the family gathers, the typical situation involves a large 3-generation family gathered in front of their TV set while making dumplings for the first New Year's meal. The Gala adds a mood of celebration in the house as people laugh, discuss and enjoy the performance. It has become an ingrained tradition on Mainland China to watch the New Year's Gala on New Year's Eve, and the estimated audience numbers over 700 million people.
Rural areas that previously been unfamiliar with concepts such as television often holds great gatherings on New Year's Eve to watch the program. The CCP Government has often emphasized rural areas being able to receive the New Year's Eve Gala as a progress in their economic development.
Some sources indicate that the Gala's popularity has been on the decline, although official sources from CCTV continue to claim an annual TV ratings for the Gala to be above 90%. Although consumerism has increased and younger people in urban areas are more likely to spend New Year's Eve outside of the home, the Gala has become an ingrained tradition in many Chinese families.
In 2011, Dashan made another appearance in the gala, alongside several foreign nationals of various ages, all engaging in fluent Mandarin conversation, including one of Russian nationality, an Australian and a Kenyan. The 2011 show was also noted for the appearances of various "ordinary people" performers who were selected by popular vote in a TV competition months prior.
The 'ordinary people' portrayals continued in 2012; several amateurs performed on the show. Coinciding with the rise of amateur performers is the decline of nationalist and political rhetoric. In both 2011 and 2012 versions of the Gala, imagery of national leaders were removed from the show. The 2012 gala was directed by Ha Wen, wife of host Li Yong. In a break with tradition, the 2012 Gala removed the announcements of embassies overseas sending New Year's greetings, as well as the My Favourite New Year's Gala Act voting announcement. It also did not conclude with a rendition of Can't Forget Tonight, thus breaking the practice for the first time.
The 2013 version of the Gala, the 30th in its history, concluded with the rendition of "Can't Forget Tonight" for the first time in a year.
2015's Gala edition saw "Can't Forget Tonight" being accompanied by viewer-submitted videos from all over China singing the classic song.
Synopsis and features
Although the show has evolved greatly since its creation, its format and structure has remained largely consistent. The broadcast is primarily hosted by four people, all of whom are usually popular CCTV personalities. As a variety show which aims to appeal to as many different demographics as possible, the Gala traditionally features a number of different acts. Phone numbers are also provided for viewers so they can vote on their favourite act of the Gala; the results of the vote are revealed 15 days later during CCTV's Lantern Festival gala.
Comedy acts such as xiangsheng and sketches (such as those of Gala regular Zhao Benshan) are often featured, with the latter usually invoking real-life issues (such as unity, respect for the elderly, or education) that use the New Year's holiday as a frame for its social commentary. The hosts of the Gala itself are often incorporated into these comedy acts as well.
Musical acts are also featured during the Gala, featuring various genres of Chinese music ranging from traditional folk songs to modern C-pop acts. A medley of songs representing China's major minority ethnic groups (the Mongols, Manchus, Hui, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Miao, Zhuang among others) is also traditionally featured. Dance acts are also incorporated into the program, either alongside a live performer, or as a stand-alone act.
Performances of acrobatics and stage magic (often featuring foreign magicians) are also usually featured during the Gala. The emphasis on traditional Chinese arts performances such as Chinese opera has decreased over the years (and all but reduced to a 10-minute slot after midnight), since CCTV-3 airs its own New Year's special consisting exclusively of opera performances.
The final countdown to the New Year is led by the hosts near the end of the show; traditionally, the Gala has closed with a performance of the song "Can't forget tonight" (难忘今宵), originally performed by Li Guyi.
In the early days of the Gala in the 1980s, the show focused almost entirely on arts and entertainment. Programming that was chiefly political in nature was very rare. Communist Party leaders took an interest in the show as early as 1984, when then-General Secretary Hu Yaobang watched the show and resolved to learn how to sing "My Chinese Heart" by singer Zhang Mingmin. In 1990, Jiang Zemin, then serving as General Secretary, and Li Peng, the Premier, made a surprise on-stage appearance at Chunwan just after the clock struct midnight. Jiang delivered a speech on stage. This six-minute live segment was the only time national leaders participated in the program in its history.
Programming with heavy political undertones began appearing as part of the program in the 1990s. As audiences grew, the show became a ritualized event of national significance and experienced increased state involvement in its production. Often, segments of the show became devoted to celebrating the previous year's "national achievements" and a preview of significant events of the upcoming year. Beginning in the 1990s, the show has consistently included one segment featuring a video montage glorifying Communist Party leaders accompanied by propaganda-style background music. Shown every year were images of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao. In 2007 and 2008, the video footage featured the entire line-up of Politburo Standing Committee members. In 2008, state media reported that major officials from the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party and the State Administration for Radio Film and Television were on scene during the gala's rehearsal to supervise its production. In that same year, a segment featuring migrant workers was inserted into the show on the recommendation of Premier Wen Jiabao. Throughout the years, officials in charge of propaganda and media control, including Ding Guangen, Li Changchun, and Liu Yunshan, have paid visits to the Chunwan production team.
Between 2011 and 2014, imagery of national leaders were absent from the show, and the amount of political content varied from year to year. For example, the 2011 show featured a rendition of a patriotic song that emphasized Hu Jintao's Harmonious Society and Scientific Development Concept ideologies. In 2012 there was minimal political content, though parts of the show alluded to "building a strong nation" and the 18th Party Congress which was to be held in the fall of that year. The 2014 show, however, was again peppered with political enhancements throughout that paid homage to Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream" ideology, in addition to several nationalistic-themed songs. The 2015 show, reportedly one of the most closely managed affairs in years, prominently featured Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, with three comedy routines being linked to the theme. In addition, in a remarkable departure from convention, the 2015 show also featured Xi Jinping exclusively in a lengthy video montage during an opera-style song entitled "Give my Heart to You".
National unity and Chinese reunification has been a theme on the show since the 1990s. For example, in 2009 and 2010, in response to criticism that Chunwan was too focused on the tastes and preferences of audiences from northern China, producers introduced a feature that involved a wide range of provincial TV stations to reflect regional differences and interests. In 2012, the New Year's countdown included the hosts reading out couplets in Shanghainese, Cantonese, and Henan dialect.
The People's Liberation Army is featured in the show's programming every year, usually in the form of a song, although sometimes military-themed sketch comedies have also appeared. Many of the Gala's most prominent singers have a background in the performing arts troupe of the PLA, including Yan Weiwen, Song Zuying, Dong Wenhua and Peng Liyuan.
Every year, the program almost always involves performers from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. In some years, the affiliation of artists with any of these entities were stated explicitly on screen, but this practice has not always been consistently applied. A similar practice was adopted for foreign artists.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
The 2007 edition of the gala was panned by critics online as lacking in creativity and novelty. The 2007 gala also gained infamy for the mass breakdown referred to as the "dark three minutes" where the six hosts, Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong, Dong Qing, Zhang Zequn and Liu Fangfei collectively started a chain of misread and mistimed lines. Zhang Zequn was the first to read his lines incorrectly, obviously reciting the wrong chunlian, although the audience still applauded. Li Yong then mentioned the transition from the year bingxu (year of the dog) to dinghai (year of the pig) and a greeting to "mother comrades across the country" before being cut off by Zhu Jun's loud declaration that the new year had almost arrived. Liu Fangfei, who was relatively new to the gala, then read a line that was obviously incomplete, followed by seconds of dead air. Zhou Tao tried following it up, only to be interrupted by Li Yong. Zhou then gave Li Yong an annoyed stare, obviously visible as the camera was focused on her. Zhu Jun then interrupted Li Yong again, only to be interrupted by Zhou Tao before the ten-second countdown began. Host Zhang Zequn has since then apologized on his CCTV blog.
The three minutes of mismanagement, along with the general dullness of the programming led some Chinese online forums to criticize the 2007 Gala as "the worst in 20 years", citing Zhao Benshan's skit as the only bright point.
Some observers have criticized the Gala for resisting larger trends in Chinese society, such as the increased role of women in society and changing gender norms.
Despite the criticisms, the Gala is still a ratings powerhouse, a program in which other TV stations, some of which have gained prominence in their own right (notably Hunan TV) have scheduled their own New Year's specials on different days to avoid competing with the CCTV gala.
Since 2011 the introduction of LED multimedia backgrounds/floor, the "bright" and "low resolution" LED scenes created a heavy visual burden and even a distraction from the main stage performance. Particularly the "low resolution" LED background creates certain aliasing artifacts for TV viewers.
As the program is watched by more Chinese than any other, a performance in the New Year's Gala could propel a relatively unknown name into household talk and national celebrity overnight.
The presenters at the gala are sometimes hosts of their own television shows. Zhao Zhongxiang, for example, was an eminent narrator for television documentaries as well as news anchor for the widely watched Xinwen Lianbo program. Li Yong was the host of the variety show Lucky 52. Ni Ping was host of Zongyi Daguan (Chinese: 综艺大观), a variety show popular in the 1990s.
|1996||Zhang Xiaohai||Zhao Zhongxiang, Ni Ping, Cheng Qian, Yuan Ming, Zhang Xiao, Zhou Tao|
|1997||Yuan Dewang||Zhao Zhongxiang, Ni Ping, Cheng Qian, Zhou Tao, Zhu Jun, Ya Ning|
|1998||Meng Xin||Zhao Zhongxiang, Ni Ping, Zhou Tao, Zhu Jun, Ya Ning, Wang Xuechun|
|1999||Liu Tiemin, Huang Xiaohai, Chen Yulu||Zhao Zhongxiang, Ni Ping, Zhou Tao, Zhu Jun|
|2000||Zhao An, Zhang Xiaohai||Zhao Zhongxiang, Ni Ping, Zhou Tao, Zhu Jun|
|2001||Wang Xianping, Wang Xiansheng, Jin Yue||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Zhang Zheng, Cao Ying|
|2002||Chen Yulu||Ni Ping, Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong, Wang Xiaoya, Wen Qing, Cao Ying, Zhang Zheng|
|2003||Jin Yue||Ni Ping, Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong|
|2004||Yuan Dewang||Ni Ping, Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong|
|2005||Lang Kun||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong, Dong Qing|
|2006||Lang Kun||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong, Dong Qing, Zhang Zequn, Liu Fangfei|
|2007||Jin Yue||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong, Dong Qing, Zhang Zequn, Liu Fangfei|
|2008||Chen Linchun, Zhang Xiaohai||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Li Yong, Dong Qing, Zhang Zequn, Liu Fangfei|
|2009||Lang Kun||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Dong Qing, Zhang Zequn, Bai Yansong, Zhu Xun|
|2010||Jin Yue||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Dong Qing, Zhang Zequn, Ren Luyu, Ouyang Xiadan|
|2011||Chen Linchun, Ma Dong, Liu Gang||Zhu Jun, Zhou Tao, Dong Qing, Li Yong, Zhang Zequn, Zhu Xun|
|2012||Ha Wen||Zhu Jun, Li Yong, Dong Qing, Bi Fujian, Sa Beining, Li Sisi|
|2013||Ha Wen||Zhu Jun, Li Yong, Dong Qing, Bi Fujian, Sa Beining, Li Sisi|
|2014||Feng Xiaogang||Zhu Jun, Dong Qing, Bi Fujian, Li Sisi, Zhang Guoli|
|2015||Ha Wen||Zhu Jun, Dong Qing, Kang Hui, Li Sisi, Sa Beining, Zhu Xun, Bi Fujian, Negmat Rahman|
There have been over twenty hosts in total, beginning in the first show in 1983. The first ever production of the show was hosted by Jiang Kun, Liu Xiaoqing, Ma Ji and Wang Jingyu. The 1983 production was notably ad-libbed, with improvised dialogue between the hosts. Over the years, the delivery of the hosts became much more scripted and stilted over time. In later years Zhao Zhongxiang and Wang Gang gained prominence. Ni Ping appeared in over ten galas beginning in 1991, making her the most veteran female host.
Shanghainese stand-up comedian Zhou Libo has repeatedly turned down offers from CCTV to host the show.
The following is a list of people who have gained their fame largely from their performances at the Gala, or whose names have become frequently associated with the Gala. This list is not to be confused with the "guest stars" list below, which identifies celebrities who were famous in their own right prior to their appearance at the Gala.
- Zhao Benshan; Gao Xiumin; Fan Wei; – skits, 1990s – 2010s; Xiaoshenyang – since 2009
- Song Dandan; Chen Peisi; Zhu Shimao – skits, 1990s
- Guo Da & Cai Ming; Huang Hong – skits, 1990s – 2010s
- Feng Gong and Niu Qun – xiangsheng, 1990s – 2000s (decade)
- Jiang Kun – xiangsheng, 1980s – 2011
- Dashan (stage name of Canadian Mark Rowswell), gained his fame through the Gala, 1990s – 2010s
- Song Zuying, Peng Liyuan, Li Guyi, Han Lei, Yan Weiwen; folk singers, 1990s – 2010s
These performers have made appearances at the Gala:
- A-do (duet with Zhao Wei in 2004)
- Alilang Group, singing Doraji (2009)
- Eason Chan (2012)
- Guo Degang (2013)
- Hao Ge (2007)
- Han Geng (2011)
- Sun Nan (2012; 2013; 2014)
- Danny Chan (2009)
- Jackie Chan (2005; 2009; 2013; 2014)
- Angela Chang (2008)
- Chen Kun (2012)
- Cui Yongyuan (1998, 2006, 2013)
- Jay Chou (2008; 2009; 2011)
- Fei Xiang (1987, 2012)
- Fei Yu-Ching (2008)
- Fire of Anatolia (2013)
- JJ Lin (2006)
- Andy Lau (1995; 1998; 2006; 2015)
- Lin Chi-ling (2011)
- Lang Lang (2013; 2015)
- Na Ying (2013)
- Ruby Lin (1998)
- Xiao Hu Dui (2013)
- Lu Chen (2009; 2010; 2012; 2013)
- Wanting Qu (2013)
- S.H.E (2008; 2013)
- Aaron Shang (2008; 2011)
- Jolin Tsai (2005; 2007)
- David Tao (2007; 2015)
- Wang Leehom (2003; 2010; 2012; 2013)
- Faye Wong (1998; 2010; 2012)
- Li Yundi (2001;2012;2013)
- Attraction (2014)
- Nicholas Tse (2000)
- Leon Lai (2000)
- Twins (2006)
- Richie Jen (1999)
- Joey Yung (2005; 2007; 2010; 2011)
- Zhang Ziyi (2000; 2001; 2008)
- Zhao Wei (2000; 2004)
- Han Hong (2007)
- Celine Dion (2013)
- Sophie Marceau (2014)
- Lee Min Ho (2014)
- Li Yuchun (2015)
- G.E.M. (2015)
- Karen Mok (2015)
- Warren Mok (2015)
- Chang Chen (2015)
- Phoenix Legend (2008, 2013, 2015)
- Members of the Chinese Space Program: Yang Liwei, Fei Junlong, Nie Haisheng (2007–2009)
- 2008 also featured a poem dedicated to the victims of the 2008 Chinese winter storms with it read out loud to the audience by eminent performers, including Li Ruiying, Kang Hui, Pu Cunxin, Wang Gang, Chen Daoming, Jiang Wen, Han Lei, Wei Wei and Zhang Guoli.
- "7 ways to celebrate Chinese New Year". CNN. February 8, 2013.
It’s also probably the biggest show on the planet, attracting 700 million viewers, six times the Super Bowl’s audience.
- "Lee Min-ho invited to China TV festival". The Korea Times. 20 January 2014.
Watched by some 750 million people, it has become the single most viewed program among Chinese viewers annually. Last year, it broke the Guinness World Record in terms of viewership.
- Louisa Lim (2012-11-28). "Will China's First Lady Outshine Her Husband?". npr.org. NPR. Retrieved 2012-11-28.
- "Celine Dion to Perform on China Central Television’s New Year’s Gala Show". The Hollywood Reporter. 6 February 2013.
...and is widely considered the most watched television program in the world today.
- "冯氏春晚收视率与去年持平 8亿观众收看直播". Sohu. 2 February 2014.
- "冯氏春晚收视率与去年持平 8亿观众看直播". Ifeng.com (Phoenix Television official website). 2 February 2014.
- The First Spring Festival Gala. Xinhua News Agency. January 30, 2011
- Latham, K. Pop Culture China!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle. ABC-CLIO, 2007. pp.60 ISBN 978-1-85109-582-7.
- "盘点中央领导与央视春晚故事：江泽民曾亲临现场". Tencent News. January 30, 2014.
- "中宣部、广电总局领导审看春晚 要求格调健康". Chinanews. January 31, 2008.
- "Xi Jinping the Star in China’s Lunar New Year TV Gala". Wall Street Journal (blog). February 19, 2015.
- ""把心交给你" 春晚独捧习近平". Voice of America. February 19, 2015.
- "Understanding the Politics of Chunwan". Ta Kung Po. January 31, 2014.
- e.g. The titles of Jay Chou's appearance would be introduced on screen as Jay Chou (Taiwan, China) (Chinese: 周杰伦（中国台湾）), or in the case of Andy Lau, as Andy Lau (Hong Kong, China) (Chinese: 刘德华（中国香港）)
- 春晚好不好 各说各的话 Is the Gala good? So many opinions. Meizhou Daily. February 19, 2007
- Chunwan screw-ups: Viewpoints and analysis: 春晚名嘴集体掌了自己嘴 孔庆东博客炮轰春晚. Enjoy Eastday.com. February 24, 2007
- The coming of age of Chinese feminism. Al Jazeera America. May 17, 2015
- CCTV gala gets mixed reactions. China Daily. February 19, 2007
- "Peng Liyuan Glamour - - The Elegant Style of China's First Lady". Theodora's Fashion. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "2013中央电视台春节联欢晚会节目单". cctv.com. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- CCTV Official Website for the Gala
- Behind the Scenes: The CCTV New Year's Gala
- New Year's Gala: Compilation of Songs from Baidu
- 2010 CCTV's Spring Festival Gala