Zhejiang TV Under Fire For Godfrey Gao’s Deathjessie tan
Godfrey Gao, 35, passed away from cardiac arrest today (Nov 27) while filming Chinese sports variety show Chase Me in China. The Taiwanese-Canadian actor had been doing a running challenge on set at 1.45am when he suddenly collapsed, while repeatedly exclaiming: “I can’t go on anymore”.
According to rumours on Weibo, production staff thought he was hamming it up for the camera and did not rush to his aid immediately. But Zhejiang TV, which produces Chase Me, later released a statement averring that its medical staff had administered medical treatment to Godfrey right away and rushed him to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
But that didn’t stop netizens from blaming Zhejiang TV for Godfrey’s death, due to the TV station’s history of apparently shoddy safety practices on their shows’ sets. Chase Me, which features celeb guest stars, like Jam Hsiao and William Chan, also had Olympic gymnast Li Xiaopeng (pictured) and China’s first world champion boxer Zou Shiming on an earlier episode.
The gold medallists, no strangers to gruelling physical training, were said to have struggled with the show’s very demanding challenges. Li Xiaopeng had reportedly yelled, “No! I really can’t run anymore!” while other stars had to beg the producers to give Zou Shiming a break when the athlete became too exhausted after being submerged in a ball pit. Chinese actor Bi Wenjun was also said to have vomited many times during his guest stint, and Chinese singer Li Zhenning had to get an emergency oxygen mask in an ambulance when he became short of breath. Other guest stars like singer William Chan and actor Huang Jingyu complained of fatigue and buttock cramps.
On top of arduous stunts, Chase Me is also known for its format of having participants race around the city at night, which meant guest stars often had to film into the wee hours, further straining their physical endurance.
Zhejiang TV’s other shows were just as problematic; while recording variety show Trump Card in 2016, Chinese singer Wu Mochou fell on her head. Just two years later on the same show, Chinese pop star Jason Zhang fainted from hypoxia after filming for seven hours, causing him to fall and bruise his face.
Perhaps the most damning of all is an allegation that a production assistant from the TV station had drowned in a tragic accident — albeit during non-working hours — on the set of reality series Splash!, which revolves around celebrities diving into an Olympic-sized pool.
Following Godfrey’s death, Weibo users angrily took to the social media platform to protest against Zhejiang TV. “It’s unreasonable to make artistes play such intense games. This time, it became fatal,” voiced one netizen, while another user opined that “ratings can’t be bought with human lives”.
There are yet more netizens calling for the boycott of Zhejiang TV, with some pointing out that the issue of injured guest stars “is a problem every year” and that it’s “really unbelievable and too ridiculous”.