’Gangster’ Peppa propelled from pariah to superstar

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Once denounced as a “gangster” by Chinese authorities, Peppa Pig has managed to clean up her act just in time for the year of the pig.
In a dramatic turnaround for the British children’s cartoon once co-opted as an unlikely symbol of dissent against the Communist Party, Beijing will this week allow the release of a film, Peppa’s Chinese New Year.
A trailer for the film – which features a dragon parade, fireworks and two new characters Dumpling and Glutinous Rice Ball – has gone viral in China since it was posted online in January.
In the run-up to Chinese New Year on February 5, the country has been preparing amid a renewed craze for everything Peppa.
Those enamoured of the cartoon include five-year-old twins, Mi Ai and Mi Ni, who have swept headlines in China after posting a heart-warming viral video saying they were inspired to meet the Queen after watching a Peppa Pig episode in which she makes a royal visit.
The video, which has been viewed more than nine million times, led to a surprise invite to the British embassy last week.
Dame Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to China, responded personally in her own video: “Hello Mi Ni and Mi Ai, I’m the British ambassador, so I’m the Queen’s representative in China. “I’d like you to come and visit me in my house in Beijing, and we can perhaps have tea and scones in a British style.”
The two girls did indeed visit with the ambassador, sipping from tea cups, munching on finger cakes and colouring in Peppa illustrations. A visit will soon be arranged for the girls and their parents to tour the UK, visiting Peppa Pig studios, a Peppa theme park, and Buckingham Palace.
The girls are likely to be the envy of their peers, many of whom are also obsessed with Peppa, Ms Zhang, their mother, said.
“Kids are able to relate to the characters, because it tells everyday family life.”
She added: “Peppa Pig helps them to get along with friends and other kids,” and added that the show has also helped her daughters to “learn environmentally-friendly concepts, such as recycling.”
Additional reporting by Paula Jin...

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