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TV series has recipe for success

By Xu Fan | | Updated: 2023-12-27 15:03
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A scene in the TV series  Ding Baozhen. The 36-episode TV series has garnered widespread acclaim since it began airing on CCTV-8 on Oct 26.[Photo provided to]

For foreigners who fancy Chinese dishes, Kung Pao chicken is probably one of their most familiar and favorite delicacies. But few might know that the dish’s creator was a high-ranking official in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The official, Ding Baozhen, who was also a foodie, instructed his chef to create the dish because of his love for spicy chicken fried with peanuts. As he was later appointed to the position of gong bao — an official title referring to the crown prince’s teacher — the dish was named after his title and has been known as such ever since.

Recently, the anecdote behind the dish has been retold in the 36-episode TV series Ding Baozhen, which chronicles the life of the historical figure. The series tells his famous stories, ranging from how he led the people to tackle Yellow River floods to his supervision of building a state-owned factory primarily focused on producing guns and explosives, one of the earliest in China, in Sichuan province.

A still from the historic TV series Ding Baozhen, which is about the creator of the popular Chinese dish, Kung Pao Chicken.[Photo provided to]

During a seminar held in Beijing on Dec 19, Dou Peng, the drama’s producer, recalled hearing the tale of Kung Pao chicken during an event held at the China International Cultural Industries Fair several years ago. The moment sparked his interest in delving deep into Ding’s life and led him to conceive a biographical project about the renowned historical figure.

The TV series has garnered widespread acclaim since it began airing on CCTV-8 on Oct 26.

Li Shengli, a professor of movie and TV studies at the Communication University of China, said that historical dramas used to be a popular genre in the domestic television industry, but in recent years, the number of such series has decreased.

He added that Ding Baozhen, in a sense, is a “surprise” in the TV drama market, as it is faithful to historical authenticity while also portraying well-developed characters.

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