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The Straits Times
Feb 24, 2017
Channel 8 actors of yesteryear are back on the small screen. The Straits Times finds out about their new characters and what they have been up to.
Once a sweetheart, now a villain
For much of the 1990s, actress Tang Miaoling was a television sweetheart, often playing goody two shoes in Chinese dramas.
In her latest role, though, the 49-year-old is a villain - a gold-digging mother on upcoming Channel 8 series, The Lead. It is her first acting gig in more than a decade.
Tang, who started filming the drama in December, says: "The producer was looking for someone who looks kind on the surface, someone who you can't tell is evil on the inside."
She left Mediacorp (then known as the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) in 1994 as she wanted a job with more regular hours. She once ran an interior design company and is now a part-time real estate agent.
The ageless beauty still exudes the demure demeanour that catapulted her to fame in the classic drama, Pretty Faces (1991), alongside Zoe Tay. She played the grounded friend to Tay's wild child character, Bobo.
Tang spoke to The Straits Times last Friday, in between filming Season 2 of the heartland series, 118 (2017). It also stars Pan Lingling, who had convinced Tang that it would be fun to return to acting.
The two actresses have not had any scenes together since filming began last month. Tang shares scenes with Chew Chor Meng, who was her boyfriend in Mr Kiasu, the 2001 Channel 5 sitcom. In 118, Tang's character runs a coffee stall and approaches Chew, Pan's on-screen husband, to pick up coffee brewing skills.
"It is nice to see old friends on the set. The actors, the lighting guy, the sound man. We are like one big family," says Tang, who was last seen in a cameo in Channel U drama, Be Somebody (2004).
Away from the limelight and when not working, she spends most of her time with friends and family. Her husband is in his 50s and works in the finance sector.
Her daughter, 18, and son, 14, are all "grown up", she says. "They are independent. I used to send them to school and tuition classes. When I offer to send them now, they want to go on their own. That's why I have time to act now."
• Catch Tang Miaoling in 118 Season 2 from March 27. It airs on weekdays on Channel 8 at 7.30pm. The Lead premieres on Channel 8 on May 22 at 9pm.
From ethereal fairy to possessive lover
Local actress Phyllis Quek, 44, shares a passionate kiss with a younger man in her first acting project since her marriage in 2013.
She accepted the role of a possessive lover in Channel 8 drama Legal Eagles only after consulting her husband, Australian businessman David Cox, 54.
"He didn't mind (the role or the scene) because he feels it is just acting and part of my job. I would not have taken the role if he had issues. It is about mutual respect," says Quek.
Watching Quek transform into a ruthless cougar could come as a shock to viewers who remember her as the ethereal fairy in fantasy drama, The Legend Of The Eight Immortals (1998).
Far from being concerned about her image, she relishes the challenge.
"If you play a good person, you are who you are in real life. But to play a vicious person, you have to be more imaginative," says Quek, who was last seen making a cameo appearance in the movie The Ultimate Winner (2011), actor Li Nanxing's directorial debut.
A year before, she starred in thriller movie Kidnapper (2010)
Away from the limelight, she has been busy baking and basking in marital bliss.
The lovey-dovey couple flew to Paris for a three-month pastrymaking course two years ago.
"I love eating pastries, so I wanted to learn for fun. My hubby has an interest, too. He also wanted to accompany me," says Quek, who is based in Singapore with her husband, who has a daughter and a son from a previous marriage.
The lady of leisure dabbled in a beauty business previously, but has since withdrawn her investment.
She says: "My husband didn't want me to work too hard. We wanted to spend time together."
Acting still has a place in her heart, says Quek. "I have a love-hate relationship with acting.
"When you are filming, the long hours are strenuous. You have no time for a personal life, you long for rest. But when you are not filming, you miss acting."
• Legal Eagles premieres on Channel 8 on March 7. It will air on weekdays at 9pm.
Peter Yu: Back on his feet after a rough patch
After more than a decade away from local television, former actor Peter Yu returned in a role inspired by a rocky patch in his life.
In last year's Channel 8 blockbuster Hero, his character was once a popular actor whose life went downhill after he got into trouble and went through a divorce.
In real life, Yu, 48, who is best known for playing a rich man's son in period series Tofu Street (1996), split up with host Quan Yi Fong in 2008 and subsequently racked up gambling debts.
Back on his feet now, he is happily married to a sales executive and they have two sons, aged four and six months.
A full-time cab driver, just like his Hero character eventually becomes, he takes on acting projects on the side.
He has made a cameo as a cheating husband in ongoing Channel 8 series Dream Coder and also stars in upcoming cable TV telemovie Zi Char (2017), which will air in August on Hub E City (StarHub TV Channel 111 and 825).
Cassandra See: More time for acting now her son is 'all grown up'
Former actress Cassandra See was persuaded by her actress-pal Pan Lingling to join her in the long-form drama 118, making a cameo as the ex-wife of a reformed gangster played by Hong Kong actor Ha Yu.
See, 43, who was part of television's gambling trilogy The Unbeatables (1993, 1996, 2002), will next appear in Channel 8 series The Lead as the owner of a canteen at a TV station.
The reason for her absence from local TV: She reportedly relocated to Hong Kong for six years because of her Korean-American husband's work.
In a previous interview, she said she had more time to take on acting projects now that her 16-year-old son is "all grown up".