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Interviews Before Execution – China’s Successful Death Row Show

A creepy show capturing the last moments of criminals on death row – that might sound like the worst kind of reality TV, but “Interviews Before Execution” has been hugely popular in China, where it was first aired on Henan Legal Channel on 18th November, 2006. After over 5 years, the show ended on March 11, but I think it's worth talking about here.

As a part of the reality show, journalist Ding Yu would interview a person on death row every week in almost cruel detail. So yes, every person featured on the show was a hardened criminal, whose fate had already been sealed – in death. Sometimes, the criminals were recorded speaking just minutes before their execution, many describing the details of their crimes, displaying remorse and even begging for forgiveness at times. It sure does sound like an unnecessary exploitation of people who are about to die, but the creators of the show have a different perspective. Lu Pejin, the director of the Legal Channel says that the purpose of the show was to warn audiences. “If they are warned, tragedies might be averted. That is good for society.”

The show may no longer be on air in China, but worldwide networks like PBS and BBC are interested in the phenomenon it has managed to become. After all, in its prime, Interviews Before Execution had a whopping 40 million viewers per broadcast, and skyrocketed Ding Yu to fame. The best ratings in the show’s history were for this one episode that featured a gay prisoner, who after murdering his mother, violated her dead body. BBC is now planning to air a documentary coming Monday on the Chinese program, called The Execution Factor. PBS will soon follow suit with another documentary called Dead Men Talking.

Credit: Odditycentral

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