China's national TV network has sealed a deal with Entertainment Rights, the London-quoted company that owns the right to the character – as well as to Rupert Bear, Lassie and Basil Brush – to screen the new series, Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service.
The ginger postie is also heading for Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong and Thailand, thus doing his bit to help the UK keeps its crown as the world’s leading originator of television formats. The country currently claims around a third of the global format sales market. Don’t tell Pat, but much of that is down to the likes of Simon Cowell and his Got Talent franchise.
While many of you will be baffled by the global hunger for watching no-hopers ‘perform’, the desire to screen Greendale’s postie is perhaps even harder to explain. Why a placid civil servant with a fondness for his cat and humming his own theme tune should appeal to a kid in Bangkok is anyone’s guess.
Pat has not had the best of luck in Asia. Back in 1994 he was famously deemed unsuitable for the Japanese market for having only three fingers and a thumb – bearing a striking similarity to members of the Yakuza, who often have their little finger cut off as a form of penance. He eventually made it in 2005, via the Japanese wing of Disney, who perhaps didn’t care about the gangster connection (possibly pitching Pat as the children’s answer to Beat Takeshi).
Bob the Builder suffered a similar fate, having to have a finger grafted on before he could make it into Japan. Companies seeking to deal with China in the past have had to make equally drastic changes – take the formerly right-on Google, which had to agree to purge search results of sites not approved by the Chinese government.
Perhaps Pat won’t find conquering China so tough. After all, you can’t imagine the kids going wild for Internet Censor Wu.