China's love affair with British-made TV dramas and documentaries shows no sign of easing, after the BBC confirmed that series four of Sherlock would return to the small screen this month on Youku, one of China's top online video and streaming service platforms.
The show turned out to be a surprise hit in China in 2016. In addition to viewers at home, some 1.7 million people turned out at cinemas to see the show's feature-length special, The Abominable Bride, according to BBC Worldwide. The first episode of the fourth series, which debuted on January 2 on Youku, has already been viewed by more than 8.5 million people.
Still from the first episode of the new series of Sherlock /Sherlock PBS Photo
Looking ahead to the New Year, the UK's ITV Studios Global Entertainment has sealed a deal with China's Huace Film and TV for the Chinese company to remake one of its shows, with the Chinese version to be distributed across Asia. The choice of show is still under discussion.
ITV and Huace already have an agreement for a Chinese version of the UK's Dancing on Ice. Viewers in China will be able to tune into the first season of the Chinese-produced Star on Ice starting this month, as part of the early lead-up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
Also in 2017, motoring enthusiasts will be able to choose from among nearly 360 hours of Top Gear episodes on the BesTV platforms in China. The offering includes the UK version of Top Gear, as well as versions from the US, Korea and China.
BBC nature documentary Earth: One Amazing Day /BBC Worldwide Photo
On the documentary front, China has steadily turned itself into a key player in the global market for factual television. This year will see the cinematic release of Earth: One Amazing Day, the first documentary feature to be produced under the landmark UK and China film co-production treaty announced in 2014.
The film is produced by the UK's BBC Earth Films, part of BBC Worldwide, and China's SMG Pictures, the film and television production arm of Shanghai Media Group. It is the sequel to the 2007 nature documentary Earth, which went on to become a hit with viewers.
BBC Worldwide also announced a series of deals that will bring four productions by BBC Earth and Giant Screen Films to more than 20 science and technology museums across the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong in 2017.
In partnerships with Orient International Holding Shanghai Foreign Trade Co and Wuhan DDMC Culture Co, the screenings will start this month and the films will be shown in giant 2D Dome and 3D format.
China is also becoming a major player in film production. Wanda Studio's state-of-the-art facilities, already operating in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao and due for completion by 2018, have the potential to draw production away from Hollywood.
"We've got investments, we've got distributions and new studios," Wanda Studio President Edwin Tan told China Daily.
"Film producers should have a look and see how they can come up with scripts that are suitable for the Chinese market, even if it's an international film. This gives British filmmakers an alternative opportunity to tap into China's market."
Artwork from Warriors series of books /HarperCollins
Recently, it was announced that China's Alibaba Pictures Group is collaborating with Harry Potter producer David Heyman to adapt the book series Warriors for the big screen.
Heyman explained in an earlier interview: "Alibaba has great infrastructure and the ability to reach people, in China especially. But, as the best of the Chinese companies, they have a long view that is not about immediate gratification. That is about quality."
The London-based producer described the film as a "perfect Chinese-British project".
(With inputs from China Daily)