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TV series on young Mao Zedong enjoys high popularity
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The TV series Beardless Chairman Mao, about the days of China's former leader Mao Zedong as a young man, has become a big hit in the country, especially among university students.


The 23-episode series made a successful debut in March last year, winning the highest audience rating, an average of 5.25 percent, among all TV series on China Central Television's (CCTV) Channel One last year. It was also broadcast by various local stations.


The series, set between 1913 and 1918 when Mao studied at Hunan Normal School, tells stories about his school days and love life. It also depicts the lives of Cai Hesen, Xiang Jingyu, Yang Kaihui, Tao Siyong and other young revolutionaries at the time.


The total cost of the series was more than 10 million yuan (about US$1.4 million). The shooting included location scenes around Hunan Normal School.


The leading roles were all played by unknown young actors and actresses without much previous experience. Their performances were accepted by the audience despite not physically looking like the original figures.


Many university students said they found inspiration in the characters' efforts and patriotism.


Discussions about "How a student should study" or "How young men pursue their dreams" were held in many universities. Columns of the reviews were also printed in campus newspapers.


"It was those patriotic young people who helped save China," said Lei Yu, a China University of Geosciences student.


Education Ministry head Zhou Ji said the series set a good example for young people to shoulder social responsibility.


A sequel to the series, At Life's Full Flowering, depict Mao's life after graduation and marriage to Yang Kaihui. It is currently being written and will be shot next year, according to director Gong Ruofei.


The People's Republic of China's first leader Mao was born on December 26, 1893, in Shaoshan Village, central Hunan Province. Mao died in 1976, aged 83. As one of the founders of the country, Chairman Mao was one of the most influential figures in China's modern history.


(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2008)

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