I find myself crouching on a small, circular platform, clutching a microphone, breathing heavily and trying to listen to the voices of the hosts and the previous contestant, but understanding nothing.
I'm surrounded by scaffolding, cables and stage machinery, dimly illuminated by fluorescent lighting.
One memorable female contestant, Ma Nuo, was once asked by a guy if she would like to go on a date with him and ride on the back of his bicycle; she famously responded, "I’d rather cry in the back of a BMW." She has since been banned from appearing on television. Previously, a drama discussing topics like China’s spiraling real-estate prices and local-government corruption, Wo Ju ("Dwelling Narrowness"), was taken off the air midway through the first season after it began to attract a large following.
The Chinese version is in your face about money; male contestants will frequently show off their bank statements and luxury cars in an effort to woo interest from a parade of 24 women, who will either pass on them or vie for a date. In China, popularity and influence go hand in hand, and that makes the government nervous.Suddenly the entire set starts to rotate around me and my insides begin to melt.I feel like I'm trapped inside a Transformer which has just woken up.A film crew visited my home and recorded an episode for the dating show at Jiangsu Satellite Television in Nanjing.But almost no one but me knows about this bizarre episode, because when it came time for my segment to air, my portion was cut out, censored, or as we say in China, "harmonized." If You Are the One premiered in January and has since become a national phenomenon.How did an English Language Assistant from the UK working in China suddenly find himself before an audience of millions?Robbie Stanley-Smith tells us what he discovered during his moment in the spotlight.It's filmed in Nanjing, the old capital of China, and airs on Jiangsu Satellite TV.is likely about to gain even more viewers as the government has recently cracked down on entertainment programs, decreasing the number aired from 126 to 38 every week.As they watch video snippets about the candidate's life and listen to him exchange banter with the witty host, the women decide whether to keep their podium lights on or switch them off, effectively dropping out of the running.(Of course there are other twists and turns to the elimination process, described here.)So how did I first get mixed up in this dating show phenomenon?), China’s most famous dating show and one of China’s most popular television shows in general.So popular it's watched by roughly 300 million people -- the entire population of the US -- each week.Little did I know what I was letting myself in for.