Chinese TV network apologises over death of Godfrey Gao

Zhuang Pinghui

A Chinese television network has pulled a reality show and apologised after the sudden death on-set of Taiwanese-Canadian actor and model Godfrey Gao.

Zhejiang Television offered the apology in an interview with the show’s director, Lin Yong, posted online on Thursday, about a week after Gao, also known as Yixiang in Mandarin, collapsed while shooting an episode of Chase Me.

In the post, titled “Sorry, we didn’t protect Yixiang in his prime”, Lin said the network had been “immersed in grief and remorse since the accident happened”.

“We feel we owe an apology to Godfrey Gao, to his parents and to all who loved him,” he said.

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Gao, 35, was a contestant in the show and collapsed after running about 600 metres (660 yards). He later died in hospital. His body has been sent to Taipei, where a funeral will be held on December 15.

The show had aired every Friday for three weeks but was not broadcast last week, and Lin confirmed to the Qianjiang Evening News that production had stopped permanently.

Chase Me was known for pushing its contestants – usually celebrities or athletes – to their physical limits. Shot at night, the competitors raced over a 12km (7.4 mile) obstacle course that included climbing a 70 metre-tall building.

The network, which promised a thorough investigation and to take “its relevant share of responsibility”, has come under heavy criticism online, with commenters questioning whether Gao was treated in time.

In the online post on Thursday, Lin said doctors reached Gao within two minutes of his collapse and three medical professionals spent 20 minutes at the scene administering first aid, including with a defibrillator.

Gao was then sent to hospital, where he died two hours later, Lin said.

Lin said Gao’s family wanted to minimise publicity around the actor’s death.

The interview attracted more than 71,000 comments within an hour of going online, most of them critical.

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“I can’t do much, but boycotting Zhejiang TV is the least I can do,” one commenter said.

Another said: “Do you want to calm the anger with an interview? You must release the details or technical log of the defibrillator or even release the television footage.”

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