HK stars swarm onto mainland shows, promoting the Greater Bay Area
Boys of the GBA
Published: Nov 01, 2021 05:08 PM
Seventeen entertainers chosen through audience voting  form a new band. Photo: Courtesy of Mango TV

Seventeen entertainers chosen through audience voting form a new band. Photo: Courtesy of Mango TV

More Hong Kong entertainers, including Jordan Chan and actress Myolie Wu, are revitalizing their careers by heading to the Chinese mainland to appear in films or TV series, or perform on variety shows.

Seeking to tackle the age and regional differences, the hit variety show Call Me By Fire has gathered 33 male celebrities of various ages from around the world such as Korean American Nathan Scott Lee and Terry Lin from the island of Taiwan, giving them a platform to display their abilities to sing, dance or play music.

(From left) GBA Boys members Jerry Lamb, Edmond Leung, Jordan Chan, Michael Tse and Julian Cheung Photo: Courtesy of Mango TV

(From left) GBA Boys members Jerry Lamb, Edmond Leung, Jordan Chan, Michael Tse and Julian Cheung Photo: Courtesy of Mango TV

 A group of Hong Kong entertainers, however, have received overwhelming support from audiences. 

Referring to themselves as coming from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, or GBA for short, they have started calling themselves by the nickname "GBA boys."

"The name GBA Boys was spoken of by accident while we appeared on the show, we could never have predicted that the name would be hailed by netizens. I think it might be because the name sounds lovely and warm, making us become a group of friends accompanying the audience," Michael Tse, one of the Hong Kong actors and singers who has gained a number of new fans in the Chinese mainland after appearing on the show, told the Global Times.

Tse noted that he and the other Hong Kong entertainers were quite happy with the group name and hope to continue to interact with fans as the "GBA Boys." 

"The words 'the Greater Bay Area' gives us hope for the future. We feel honored and will continue to do something with the name," Jordan Chan told the Global Times. 

The final of the show, filmed in Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan Province on October 25, aired on Friday on Mango TV. After three rounds of singing and dancing competitions, 17 stars chosen through audience voting formed a new band.

Among the 17 members, four are from Hong Kong, with Chan receiving the most votes from the audience.

Cantonese on display

In the final episode, two teams fought for the right to form the new band by performing classic Cantonese songs, "Days of Friendship" and "Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies," which influenced generations of Chinese mainlanders growing up in the 1990s. The atmosphere during the song was high as the audience began singing along to the chorus as the bands performed. 

During the second episode of the show that was released in August, the interaction between the Hong Kong stars who mainly rode the whirlwind of popularity in the entertainment industry in the 1990s and the beginning of 2000s brought back memories of classic scenes from the Young and Dangerous film series, in which three of the five members of GBA starred. 

The film series was immensely popular in Hong Kong, leading to nine sequels and spinoffs. The series swept the mainland, penetrating deep into towns and counties through VCDs and videotapes.

Tse said that they wanted to bring audiences back to the golden age of Hong Kong pop culture, while Chan said he wanted to leave a new mark on today's day and age that he feels each time is unique and cannot be copied.

These middle-aged Hong Kong stars also displayed their sincerity on the program when Chan called for them to speak Putonghua (Standard Chinese) when facing the camera and then Cantonese when talking amongst themselves. The request got the support of the others.

Future of HK entertainment

The variety show is considered by candidates as a good channel for Hong Kong entertainers to familiarize themselves with the mainland entertainment industry, and also for mainland audiences to get to know them, as well as the Hong Kong pop culture in the Greater Bay Area, better in return.

"The mainland has a promising environment for development and opportunities that deserve to be grasped by those who have ideals. When attending the program, our communication with other entertainers from different places can produce more splendid performances for audiences," Chan said.

The middle-aged entertainers recommend younger Hong Kong celebrities take part in the production of high-quality films and TV dramas made in the Chinese mainland, and interact with fans through short video platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou. These channels can all make mainland audiences more familiar with them.

Mango TV will launch another music competition show in 2022 in cooperation with Hong Kong TVB.

Singers from both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong can participate in the program, the Global Times learned from Mango TV. The goal of the show is to find talented musicians proficient in Hong Kong music and Cantonese songs, and revive Hong Kong music in the new age.

Eric Tsang, general manager of TVB, told the Ta Kung Pao newspaper that 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland. TVB will work closely with mainland platforms and integrate into the development of the Greater Bay Area. This collaboration with Mango TV is the first step.