Good news for the people of Hong Kong and Singapore: the wildly popular historical drama The Empress of China will soon be coming to a TV screen near you. The bad news: just like in mainland China, you will be deprived of any glimpse of Fan Bingbing’s plunging neckline.
Hong Kong’s TVB channel bought the rights to the show and has hired a CGI team to take on the task of editing out its controversial cleavage scenes. Unlike in mainland China, however, where scenes revealing actress’s ample chest areas were merely cut out, TVB will digitally tailor the women’s clothes and cover up their shame with bits of fabric. Joy!
The show premiered on HNTV in December but was pulled off the air for a short hiatus. The network claimed that the recess was due to “technical reasons”, but as soon as it was broadcast again in January, viewers were quick to notice the absence of some of program’s most prominent stars—close-up scenes showing actress’s “squeezed” and pushed-up breasts were replaced with close-ups of their faces.
China’s media watchdog reluctantly explained its decision to cut out the cleavage with a kind of half-assed cry of “think of the children!” Viewers complained not only about the censorship, but also because it altered the portrayal of Tang-era fashion. Maybe it revealed some bare chest, but it was historically accurate, damn it.
In any case, audiences in Singapore and Hong Kong will at least get to behold the full outfits, and then some. Taiwan is now the only place where the series has been aired in its original, busty form, according to the Straits Times.
Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong yesterday, Fan Bingbing said that she has to “respect mainland China censorship standards,” but added that the digitally edited scenes will be a better alternative to the cropped scenes.
The show will premiere in Hong Kong and Singapore on April 26 on TVB First (StarHub TV Channel 860) and will air seven days a week.