The first episode of Happy Camp aired on the July 7, 1997. The variety show on Hunan Satellite TV featured Li Xiang and Li Bing as hosts.
《快乐大本营》第1期于1997年7月7日播出 。这档湖南卫视的综艺节目最初由李湘和李兵主持 。
The latter, who had a background in news reporting, didn't bring much spark to the show so he was gradually phased out.
After many auditions, the producers landed on He Jiong, a Hunan native from Changsha, as a replacement.
With his comedic timing and warm personality, He made the format more fun to watch, the National Business Daily commented.
At the end of 2004, Li Xiang departed, passing on the hosting gig to Xie Na.
Along with new additions Wu Xin, Li Weijia and Du Haitao, the five presenters called themselves the 'Happy Family'.
Happy Camp's format has also evolved over time, focusing less on celebrity interviews and performances.
Instead, hosts have more freedom to improvise, making the series less scripted and more unpredictable.
It later updated the original concept further, adding games that involve the viewers so the experience became even more interactive.
Despite its lengthy run, Happy Camp also held on to the ratings crown as the most popular variety show in China.
But as the Chinese proverb warns, there are 'no never-ending banquets in this world'.
And when the last episode of the last series was broadcast on October 2 speculation soon grew that the show was about to be cancelled, despite denials from the Happy Camp's producers.
However, an announcement then emerged from Hunan Satellite TV that it was introducing a new format called Hello Saturday in the same slot -- Saturday 8 pm -- from January 1.
Viewers soon noticed that the new show featured He as host, although his former co-hosts were absent from early publicity trailers.
"A hello is a greeting to the future and a confident attitude for what's ahead.
Go forward bravely, feel the enormous power, and experience the beauty of challenges!" proclaimed a posting on the new programme's weibo account.
Netizens expressed confusion, wondering whether this all meant that Happy Camp was never coming back: "Does it mean the show I grew up watching is really gone?" asked one wistfully.
Another added: "Why is your goodbye so quiet and so abrupt? I haven't even had time to say farewell properly!"
Critics reckon that the sudden manner of Happy Camp's termination -- after 25 years -- could be linked to the crackdown on China's celebrity fan culture.