Chase Me reality show axed after Godfrey Gao's death, Chinese station apologises to his parents

Model-actor Godfrey Gao's body is now back in Taiwan for a funeral on Dec 15.
Model-actor Godfrey Gao's body is now back in Taiwan for a funeral on Dec 15.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Zhejiang Television has cancelled its Chase Me reality show, in the wake of Godfrey Gao's death.

The Taiwan-born Canadian model-actor died on Nov 27 in Ningbo, China. He was then tackling a run in the show that poses challenges to participants.

His body is now back in Taiwan for a funeral on Dec 15.

The Qianjiang Evening News quoted Mr Lin Chong, director of Zhejiang Television, as saying: "We have been immersed in grief and remorse after the incident.

"We feel deeply sorry to Gao, to his dad and mum, and to all the people who love him."

Gao was given medical help on-site before he was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to cardiac arrest.

He apparently was not confident that he was up to the challenges in the show before shooting began.

His hairstylist Kim Huang, in an online post, revealed that he told Gao that he could do it, only because he thought Gao was physically fit since he lifted weights and played basketball.

Gao's agency said he was suffering from a cold during the filming of Chase Me.

 
 
 

After he died, netizens wondered if Chinese reality shows - which compete to gain ratings with novel action-packed elements - are subjecting participants to too much risk.

There was also an uproar when screenshots - allegedly tracking communication among Zhejiang Television employees over Gao's collapse - surfaced online.

Netizens blasted the insensitive comments which questioned his fitness, and reports that indicated the contract he signed absolved the broadcaster from any blame over incidents.

Netizens also fumed over news that claimed a participant in a previous Chase Me episode was about to abseil down a 70m platform before a crew member detected that his safety harness was not attached.

Another celebrity, Taiwan host Jacky Wu, has also criticised the hyper-competitive nature of reality shows.

Without naming the Chinese programme he was in, he said he was asked to climb thousands of steps. He later had a discussion with the producers about the excessive demands, reported Taiwan News.

But with the shows proving a valuable platform especially for industry newcomers to gain exposure, Wu warned that they must first know their physical capabilities and not embrace the unknown recklessly.

Wu also pointed fingers at South Korea where producers have made a splash with reality shows and licensed their concepts to others in Asia.