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BBC Worldwide to launch local version of ‘Top Gear’ in China

MUMBAI: BBC Worldwide has inked a deal with Honyee Media in China to produce a Chinese version of motoring show ‘Top Gear’. The contract was sealed during a signing ceremony between Honyee Media and BBC Worldwide in Beijing at Honyee’s Extreme Night event over the weekend.

Honyee Media is a media conglomerate focused on high-end lifestyle in China. Owning multiple media platforms including magazines, a TV channel, and shopping sites, they will be responsible for the advertising investment, branding promotion, television and online copyright sales of the series in China.

Production of the series is due to start in late July with the premiere in early November 2014 on one of China’s most watched satellite broadcasters, Shanghai Dragon TV and on OTT platform, iqiyi.com.

Shanghai Dragon TV currently ranks third on the chart of TV ratings for all China’s satellite broadcasters in Q1 of 2014. Iqiyi.com is China’s most popular online video portal recording over 313 million PC users and over 99 million mobile device users per month.

‘Top Gear China’ will feature many elements familiar to global audiences including ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ and a Chinese version the enigmatic Stig. The series is expected to film in locations like Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Chongqing, Guizhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Wuxi.

The names of the three Chinese presenters will be announced after the filming of the first episode, and are expected to be well-known TV presenters and experts in the automotive sector.

Honyee Media GM Richard Zhang said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be working together with one of the world’s great broadcasting powerhouses on a programme of this quality and wide appeal. The ‘Top Gear’ brand has huge potential in China. The UK version is a huge hit around the world and we are confident that ‘Top Gear China’ will be just as successful and popular here.”

BBC Worldwide, Greater China VP, GM Pierre Cheung said, “The ‘Top Gear’ brand already has a strong presence in China. We are delighted that Chinese viewers will be able to see its own local version with a unique spin to this much loved format. We are extremely excited to be working with Honyee Media to create and market a Chinese version.”

BBC Worldwide ‘Top Gear’ commercial director Duncan Gray said, “It’s going to be fascinating to see how Honyee Media and Shanghai Dragon TV develop the ‘Top Gear’ format for China. Everyone at ‘Top Gear’ HQ is excited about this opportunity and keen to help produce the very best content that will entertain local audiences as much as the UK, US and Korean versions do.”

In China, the UK version of ‘Top Gear’ is shown on Shanghai Dragon TV and iQiyi, while the US and Korean versions are shown on iQiyi.com. ‘Top Gear’ magazine in China is published by One Media Group and celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

‘Top Gear’ holds the Guinness Book of World Record for the most watched factual programme in the world. The programme has been sold to over 200 territories worldwide. It has over 19 million fans across its Facebook pages.