Political drama set to win HKTV's election
Timely thriller likely to be first show premiered on new online channel
A timely political drama about murky goings on in an election race looks to have struck a chord with voters in an online poll to decide the first drama to be shown on HKTV when it launches next month.
As the Occupy Central protests for democracy continue, The Election leads a poll of 12 contenders to be the first programme shown when HKTV begins broadcasting online on November 19 - the day of free-to-air giant TVB's 47th anniversary.
The drama stars award-winning actors Angelica Lee Sinje and Liu Kai-chi and depicts a 2022 election in which the public vote for their chief executive from a list of candidates selected by an election committee.
Director Wong Kwok-keung said Lee played an independent candidate pitted against Liu, the head of the patriotic camp. The drama would delve into the dirty world of politics, featuring everything from bribery to triad collusion, Wong said.
"Traditional TV won't handle this subject," said Wong, who was previously at TVB.
The choice of a political drama is an ironic twist given the political battles HKTV has faced to get on air.
Boss Ricky Wong Wai-kay first bid for a free-to-air licence but saw his application rejected, while established pay-television players iCable and PCCW got channels.
He then acquired a mobile television licence, but saw his plans rejected on technical grounds. HKTV is now making its programmes available to stream through computers, mobile apps or set-top boxes, which does not require a government licence.
The trailer for the series may have caught viewers' attention because it featured scenes of pro-democracy protests that echo the Occupy movement.
"[People] smear the civil disobedience campaign, calling it an act to overthrow the government. But that is because our government [and] our Legislative Council are controlled by a bunch of jerks," says a voiceover in one scene.
In another, a candidate is told: "As long as you can give them what they want, these country bumpkins will not only nominate you, they can demolish their ancestral halls if you want them to."
Ranking second - with 11,000 votes to more than 70,000 for The Election - is crime thriller Borderline, an episode of which was shown at protests against the licence rejection in 2012.
Wong, the director, said Hong Kong audiences had given political shows the cold shoulder, but series like American hit House of Cards had won acclaim worldwide. He hopes The Election will have a similar impact, given the present political climate.
"Occupy Central has changed Hongkongers' perspectives on politics … The public now cares more about politics, and we hope to raise public awareness of things going on behind the scene," Wong said.
But HKTV was not taking sides and the timing was a coincidence, he said. "We began brainstorming this drama in 2012 … We could not predict what would happen," the director said.
Shooting of the 15-episode series was wrapped yesterday. Each episode cost HK$1 million to produce, Wong said. He pledged to hurry with post-production to ensure the series was ready.
HKTV will also launch HKTV Mall, a shopping and entertainment platform. Voting ends on November 9, with results announced the following day.