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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Friday, 15 October 2010 15:05 UK

Producer's diary: Shanghai

Claudine Parrish
Producer, The Real

Each country has their own set of demands when it comes to filming within their borders and some are more flexible than others.

China likes to know exactly who and where you are going to film before they grant you permission, so you can only apply for a visa once everything is set up - and then you might get turned down.

Happily, three days before we were due to fly our Chinese visas came through and were swiftly couriered to us in Istanbul. So only the day before our flight were we actually assured of being able to make this episode. It was definitely worth the anxiety!

Shanghai deserves a sharp intake of breath and drop of the jaw when you get there - in the same way Disney World does or Las Vegas.

There is something magical about it, something unreal, perhaps a little overwhelming. At first I felt like I'd stepped off the plane on to a movie set - maybe the Fifth Dimension or similar sci-fi.

This was compounded when we went to the Shanghai World Financial Center to film aerial views over the city from its highest point. Blue neon floor lights guided us though the dimly lit lobby to the elevator, where the doors opened revealing a bright white lift, featuring a video kaleidoscope of colours on the ceiling and digital indicator counting up the heights to which you are travelling.

Shanghai hasn't forgotten its past, but it is definitely looking towards the future.


If the city appeared like a Hollywood set then sometimes it felt like we were the stars of the show.

Whereas in most cities people ignore TV crews, here wherever we set our camera down a crowd gathered and wide-eyed snappers started taking photographs of us.

By the end of the week, we'd acclimatised and it felt normal that every street was teeming with people, bicycles, mopeds and cars and every building was adorned with neon flashing lights. Returning to London was like travelling back in time, and in comparison, the city I once thought of crowded and buzzing seemed quiet and quaint.

If I had one letdown from my filming experience in Shanghai, it's that nobody offered me a plate of wasps' larvae or pig's perineum. How can you come back from China without a weird food story?

Disappointingly, everything that was put in front of us was delicious and palatable. But I guess it's always good to have a reason to return.

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