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From Fann Wong's skydiving accident, Coco Lee's mistreatment to Godfrey Gao's death: Zhejiang Television's controversial variety shows

From Fann Wong's skydiving accident, Coco Lee's mistreatment to Godfrey Gao's death: Zhejiang Television's controversial variety shows
Fann Wong, the late Coco Lee and Godfrey Gao had participated in different variety shows by Zhejiang Television.
PHOTO: Instagram/Fann Wong, Instagram/Coco Lee, Instagram/Godfrey Gao

Variety shows are meant as entertainment and good fun to its viewers and participating celebrities often show a hilarious or interesting side of themselves that audiences do not generally see.

However, for various reasons, including competing for viewership ratings and popularity, production teams could sometimes go to extreme extents during filming, which can result in injuries or even death.

When an audio clip of the late Coco Lee lamenting in tears about her mistreatment and humiliation on Chinese variety show Sing! China was leaked last Thursday (Aug 17), it caused an uproar among fans and netizens on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyin.

Besides speaking up for Coco and criticising the variety show's bad management, there were also discussions about how accidents and mismanagement allegedly happened several times on variety shows produced by Zhejiang Television, which also broadcasts Sing! China.

Here are five other celebrities who met with accidents on the broadcasting channel's variety shows.

Zhao Liying's water accident (2014)

Chinese actress Zhao Liying participated in episode 12 of the first season of Keep Running! which is a Chinese remake of South Korean variety show Running Man.

In one of the segments which involved players wrestling members of the opposing team into the water, the 35-year-old, who reportedly could not swim, was pushed into the water towards the end of the game.

As some players cheered for their victory and others lamented their loss, Liying was seen thrashing around in the water for a few moments without anyone helping her.

Luckily, she regained her balance and stood in the chest-deep water in the next scene.

Fann Wong's skydiving accident (2015)

Local actress Fann Wong had a close shave with death in 2015 when she participated in the Chinese reality show Go to Love with her husband, actor Christopher Lee.

In the first episode, Fann and Christopher were chosen to skydive to their meeting point on a beach in Hainan Island. On the helicopter, Fann, now 52, was visibly unsettled and nervous and at one point shouting: "I don't want to jump anymore!"

When she eventually jumped out of the plane with the skydiving instructor, everything seemed to be well at first.

However, just as they were coming closer to the ground, they were told by their skydiving instructors that the wind was too strong and instead of landing on the shore as planned, they would land in the sea.

Christopher, now 52, arrived first and was rescued by a lifeboat. As Fann plunged into the water with her skydiving instructor later, they were both covered by the parachute.

The emergency situation sent everyone into a frenzy and Christopher jumped into the sea to get to Fann quickly. After they were rescued, Fann looked traumatised and later sobbed fearfully on his shoulder.

Christopher said then: "I have never seen my wife so frightened before… she was scared out of her wits".

Recounting the accident in an interview with local magazine Nuyou in 2016, Fann said that she "drank a lot of sea water" when she fell into the water and almost "fainted". She added that their lifeboat almost capsized too and she developed a fear for the sea and boats after that.

"Before filming began, the production team told us it was an extremely romantic variety show. My husband and I would only need to go to romantic places and play some games," Fann said to Nuyou.

When asked if she was still traumatised by the skydiving accident in an interview by Mediacorp's Toggle in October 2017, she said: "I still haven't fully gotten over what happened."

Fann added then that she used to be someone who enjoyed going on boating trips and doing water sports and is determined to overcome her fear eventually for her son, Zed.

She appears to have achieved that as she has posted photos of her and Zed on yachts in recent years.

Zhang Jie fainted and hit his face on a chair (2018)

Chinese singer Zhang Jie fainted during the filming of the Chinese variety game show Ace vs. Ace on March 6, 2018, after he had a lack of oxygen during a game segment where he had to blow a table tennis ball through a glass straw.

According to a report by Hong Kong publication HK01, as the 40-year-old fell to the ground, he hit his face against a chair and suffered bruises.

The report also wrote that before the game segment started, Zhang Jie had commented to the staff that the game was "a little dangerous". However, to prevent disruption to the filming, he continued to play it.

His participation in the show was also reportedly his first public appearance since he became a father to a set of twins in February that year.

In response to the accident, the production team released a statement on Weibo, stating that they arranged a CT scan for Zhang Jie immediately after the accident and apologised to him.

They added that they had tried out the game before filming but was "unable to predict that filming late at night would affect the artiste's condition".

Godfrey Gao's death (2019)

When Taiwanese-Canadian actor-model Godfrey Gao's death was announced by his agency JetStar Entertainment on Nov 27, 2019, the news rocked the Asian entertainment industry.

The 35-year-old had been filming the Chinese night-time variety show Chase Me, where contestants had to complete strenuous tasks, in Ningbo when he collapsed suddenly while running.

He was rushed to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Zhejiang Television, which produced the show, released a statement confirming that Godfrey died of sudden cardiac death.


After his death, Chinese actress Elaine Zhong, who dropped out of the show after two episodes, told her fans on Weibo that the show was "exhausting".

There was also a screenshot of a conversation circulating on Weibo where the 30-year-old wrote that Godfrey's death "is not impossible because the show is really exhausting". She added that after completing filming, she had to take a break for half a month.

Hong Kong singer-actor William Chan, who was in nine episodes of the show, also said in an interview that filming that show was "really difficult".

"Whenever we wrapped up and returned to the hotel, it was around 6 to 7am. I've always said I love to exercise but never to this extent. Not the extent of running all the way till morning."

Godfrey's death also sparked off other rumours on Weibo that production staff did not rush to his aid immediately after he collapsed because they thought that he was hamming it up. However, the production team refuted the rumours in their statement where they claimed that help was administered immediately.

Netizens had called for a boycott for Zhejiang Television then. Director of Zhejiang Television Lin Chong apologised publicly to Godfrey's parents and cancelled the show.

Godfrey was cremated after his funeral on Dec 15. His final resting place is reportedly in Chin Pao San, Taipei.

Zhang Xincheng fractured his arm (2023)

Chinese actor Zhang Xincheng was a regular member of the Chinese variety show Our Inn, which features six other celebrities experiencing rural life and operating an inn in a village in Zhejiang Province.

On Jan 14 this year, the 27-year-old broke his upper left arm while arm-wrestling with cast member Zhang Jie during filming and was brought to the hospital for treatment.

A photograph of Zhang Jie accompanying Xincheng in the hospital also circulated on Weibo at the time.

The production team of the show released a statement on the same day to announce the matter and apologised to Xincheng.

In the comment section of the post, netizens expressed their disappointment towards the production team, especially since they promoted themselves as a "slow-paced" variety show.

One wrote: "Can you please do the programme properly, getting hurt in a slow-paced variety show, is it so difficult to ensure the safety of the cast members?"

Another netizen wrote: "Do not use these celebrities as your tools for hyping the programme! Take good care of their safety!"

Although Xincheng's management team assured fans in a Weibo post that he was okay, the injury left a long scar along his left arm.

When Xincheng guest-starred in another variety show in May and the host and other guests asked him about his injury, he said that he has a "20cm steel plate" in his arm and is planning to remove it. He added that he did not have any side effects from the injury.

ALSO READ: Wilber Pan's chair swivels on its own in recent episode of Sing! China, suggesting manipulation by production team

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