CCTV New Year’s Gala Liveblog

Every Chinese New Year Eve I end up sitting on the sofa watching the (fairly incomprehensible) CCTV New Year Gala while The Family play majiang and talk in their (completely incomprehensible) Hubei dialect. This year is we’ve been joined by the baby – he’s got a couple of hong bao, not sure what he’s going to do with the money (not eat it), but we’ll see. Otherwise all is as usual. The CCTV New Year’s Gala is apparently the most watched TV programme in THE ENTIRE WORLD, but is not much more than a broadly based variety show. I don’t really like it, don’t understand any of it, but I’ve got nothing better to  do than blog about it, so here we go.

8.35pm – Late joining the programme as I was upstairs trying to save a messy looking cake. V, Mother, Sister and Brother-in-law are playing Mahjiang already, V’s lost a bit of money. On TV there is a sketch with a woman pretending to be old (grey wig, big coat, that’ll do) and two men in suits. in front of a cheap cardboard set. One of the men has a good quiff.

8.50pm – The sketch ends with a policewoman entering and a slow motion martial arts display. I have no idea what’s going on. Next up, about fifty dancers in red and gold leotards.

8.55pm – Bored now. Hanging out with the baby is more appealing. Also I seem to be the only one watching him now.

9.00 – A montage of Chinese people arriving back for new year.”What’s this supposed to be?” “I don’t know.” Then a terrible 80s ballad singer in front of an old couple. Yeah, I dunno either. The baby has pressed some button on the remote and the screen’s gone all weird. Now I’m having to put all my effort into stopping him mashing the keyboard.

9.05pm – Spectacular shoulderpads. He looks like a 70s Chinese disco dracula.

9.15pm – Song in front of a very expensive CGI set, then another comedy sketch. Every twenty seconds everyone claps. “Why do they keep clapping?” “Because it’s funny” “Why don’t they laugh?” “It’s not really funny.” This sketch looks a lot more expensive.

9.20pm – Earlier this evening there was a montage of world leaders saying “happy new year” in Chinese, including Benjamin Netanyahu and Robert Mugabe.

10.10pm – Back after being roundly beaten at majiang. They’ve introduced a new rule this year, which I theoretically understand, but which has left me very confused in terms of strategy. On TV they now seem to be singing the Chinese smurf song. But someone may have changed the channel.

10.25pm – We’re onto BTV (the local Beijing TV network) now, and here’s Xiaoshenyang, China’s answer to Larry Grayson, and his friend in the Mao suit. They’ll probably both be on the CCTV gala a bit later. The baby is sleeping soundly now.

10.45pm – The baby’s woken up again. Lots of fireworks outside now, but there’ll be much more after midnight. We’re back on CCTV1 now, and there’s an office-based sketch with the bald comedian who wears hooded sweatshirts.

11.15pm – Really flagging now, but have found the programme is being covered with English dubbing on CCTV NEWS. The songs have scrolling subtitles. Right now there’s some power pop. The fireworks are much louder than the TV though, so not sure if it’s terrible or not.

11.25pm – Half-Chinese-Half-American singer Fei Xiang is on. He’s a bit like Engelbert Humperdinck. Is this what Milan will look like when he’s older? No, please, no.

11.35pm – We’re on to the experimental dance now. It’s that time of night. I might go back to the majiang for a while.

11.45pm – Had a half-nap on the sofa for ten minutes, now there’s an ugly guy in a red shirt singing a sad Chinese opera song. The audience look very sombre. Surely a quarter to midnight isn’t the time for misery. Can’t hear a thing over the fireworks now.

11.55pm – Officially just watching the fireworks outside now. Here we go! Is there anyone in China who can actually hear this TV gala now?

12.05am – That’s it then. Another five days of fireworks to go. Luckily I seem to be the only foreigner who can sleep through them.  Happy New Year! Goodnight!

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