1. Under One Roof; Growing Up
Dropped during Chinese New Year, this On the Red Dot special reunited the casts (most of them) of these iconic Mediacorp English shows from the 1990s — Under One Roof (1995-2003), a sitcom following the adventures of the Tan family living in Bishan, and Growing Up (1996-2002), a coming-of-age drama set in the 1960s — for a stroll down memory lane.
Forged from the ashes of failure of The Ra Ra Show (too risqué) and Masters of the Sea (too ang moh), these series, to quote a Growing Up producer, “gave us the creative confidence to know we were able to tell stories of our own, not just replicating a Hollywood template.”
For the Under One Roof segment, principal cast members Moses Lim (Tan Ah Teck), Koh Chieng Mun (Dolly), Nicholas Lee (Ronnie), Andrew Lim (Paul) and Vernetta Lopez (Denise) traded war stories at the characters’ Bishan flat set (meticulously recreated for the occasion), which includes a touching tribute to the late Zaibo, who played mee rebus seller Yusof.
Over in the Growing Up portion, Lim Kay Tong (Charlie Tay), Wee Soon Hui (Soo Mei), Jamie Yeo (Tammy), and Benedict Goh (Tan Teck Ann) gathered at a house in Kampong Lorong Buangkok, Singapore’s last remaining village. Bangkok-based Steven Lim (David) joined in via Zoom, while his ‘siblings’ Andrew Seow (Gary) and Irin Gan (Vicky) were MIA.
In one heartfelt moment, Wee explained her decision to quit the show to spend more time with her three children, then aged two, three, and five years old: “No point pretending to be a good mother on TV when you are not a good mother in real life.” (Spoiler: Her character was killed off in Season 3.)
The biggest bombshell came when Wee recalled how nervous she was playing Lim’s wife, not because it was her first TV role but because Lim is her uncle in real life! “He’s my mother’s cousin twice removed, or something like that,” she said. “Actually, we never let anybody in on this,” Lim chimed in, coolly. And you thought distant cousins Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox playing lovers on Friends is weird.
While the sight of the actors and the creatives waxing nostalgic (and tearing up in some cases) will warm the cockles of our hearts, the special’s brief 23-minute runtime will leave the viewer, be it a fan or a novice, shortchanged. What the retrospective touched on was merely the tip of the iceberg; it could’ve dug deeper. (Didn’t Fann Wong’s sister Fan Wen Qing play Tammy in Season 1?)
We have it on good authority that a lot of footage was shot but never used. In other words, somewhere out there, in someone’s hard drive, are the longer versions of these get-togethers waiting to be streamed. Hey, is the On the Red Dot team reading this?
Meanwhile, can we get cracking on Triple Nine: The Reunion for next year? (Hey, James Lye, pick up the phone!)
Watch it on: meWATCH