This week, British news outlets have been covering the story of Welshman Iain Inglis and his appearance on China’s Got Talent 中国 达人秀. Inglis’s act, which earned him a place in the Top 16 semi-final round, saw the contestant uniformed as a Red Army soldier and singing red songs 红歌 to the praise of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party.
In an unusual display of British tardiness, the novelty singer’s appearance on the show took place two seasons, and over a year, ago.
Many of the news articles have included this accompanying video:
This is not China’s Got Talent.
The set devoid of “Got Talent” props should have hinted at the misidentification. What should have made it obvious is the large China Red Song Assembly 中国红歌会 sign in the background. This footage of Inglis is actually from Jiangxi TV’s 2010 red song competition.
Most coverage of this story additionally blames censorship for the contestant’s lack of progress into the finals, with a quote from Inglis:
“As far as I knew, I was through to the final round. But the day before I was due to perform, I got a phone call saying the Bureau of Broadcasting had said I wasn’t able to go on.
“There was no real reason given – perhaps they weren’t very keen on having a foreigner singing songs about Communism. Of course, I was very disappointed, but that’s just how it is. I wasn’t very surprised.”
Although the now-defunct SARFT did specialise in pulling material off Chinese television screens, its involvement in this instance is questionable.
The third season of China’s Got Talent held two semi-final rounds of eight contestants each. Votes cast by the judges and studio audience sent three of the highest-scoring acts in each round through to the finals, with two additional wild cards, bringing the total number of finalists to eight.
Inglis came equal sixth in his round on 87 points, tying with a 32 year old Michael Jackson impersonator. Watch at 1:26:35 as the lowest-scoring contestants are thanked by the host and led off the stage. The British expatriate is in the black trousers and white shirt.
If, at that point, Inglis was still expecting to make the finals, and kept that expectation for the next four days before the finale, I can only commend him for his optimism.
UPDATE, 10 April: Inglis has denied that his elimination was due to censorship; via The Telegraph
He added that reports he was banned by the authorities from reaching the final of the show, due to them taking exception to a foreigner performing such material, are untrue.
“Why would they not want me to do it? I sang Communist songs through three heats to the semis. Why would they suddenly say they didn’t want a foreigner singing them?” he said.
“I just got knocked out. It was disappointing, but the show is watched by hundreds of millions of people and they have got to get it right.”