Thursday, 11 January 2018

When your old TV shows come back to haunt you like Fiona Xie's ghost in Maggi & Me

Yesterday, I received this message from someone I don't know via Instagram (of all things):
Hi there sir. Forgive me i am super desperate to find out what happened to the ending of the tv series "maggie and me" haha ... can i have an explanation for it please ?
So apparently, this person watched this old Channel 5 comedy series Maggi & Me starring Fiona Xie and Adrian Pang (probably on Toggle), got really into it but was stumped by the series finale, saw my name under Executive Producer in the credits, found my Instagram account and here we are.

I didn’t reply because I honestly don’t remember much of the show.

I mean, the final episode aired almost 10 years ago in February 2008 and most people nowadays probably don't even know the show even existed.

But like Xie’s eponymous ghost character in the show, Maggi & Me has returned to haunt me.

And that wasn't the only one of my old shows that came back from the dead recently.

Anyone remember Ah Girl?

The sitcom ran for three seasons starting in 2001 on TVWorks, which later became Channel i, which later became defunct.

I created the show but quit the production after writing a few episodes.

Then last August, I got an email from the star of Ah Girl herself, Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie:
Hi SM,

How have you been? It's Cynthia, aka Ah Girl. I thought you left the country and I tried looking for you on Facebook and voila, someone told me where to find you! I am writing because someone is interested in producing Ah Girl the movie and wondering if you would be interested to be part of it by writing it please? If the rights is still owned, then we would use a different name/title.

What say you? Let me know your thoughts please? We could meet up and have a chat about it.
OK, there's a lot to unpack here.


I haven't seen or spoken to Cynthia since the early 2000s and I'm shocked she even remembers me.


She thought I left the country? Am I so low-key? I thought I was this semi-famous newspaper columnist. Well, that was humbling.


She tried looking for me on Facebook and someone had to tell her where to find me. Really? She could just Google my name and be directed to this blog with all my social media links. I mean, even the Maggi & Me person found me on Instagram.


Someone is interested in producing Ah Girl the movie? I would be less shocked if someone wanted to do a Maggi & Me movie.

Anyway, because of my bad experience with the Phua Chu Kang movie, I was reluctant to write another movie based on a sitcom and I told her so in my reply to her.

But she sorta insisted I should be involved and so I agreed to meet the producer and give my input - and I haven't heard from Cynthia since.

Which is just as well.

Another old Channel 5 show that I worked on years ago that seems to be having some sort of after-life is Shiver. I was surprised to come across these two Reddit threads on the 1997 anthology series recently:

Does anyone remember this old Ch5 TV show called Shiver?

Anyway to watch an old TV show 'Shiver' internationally?

I was especially delighted that a Shiver episode I wrote (and acted in) about people trapped in a lift was discussed in the earlier thread.

Future MP Darryl David was in it with me.

I remember people hated Shiver when it first aired, but now there appears to be some weird nostalgia for it, thanks to kids who saw it back then and are now grown up.

Yeah, that makes me feel old.

Ironically, Shiver may be older than Maggi & Me and Ah Girl, but it's the better remembered show.

I guess it could be because more people watched TV in the earlier days.

Someone has yet to send me an Instagram message about that lift episode, though.

Monday, 8 January 2018

A more pressing succession question: Who will succeed Zoe Tay as Queen of Caldecott Hill?

2017 did not end with the glorious New Year’s Eve countdown show I had hoped.

Singer Aisyah Aziz covered Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson, but she was so pitchy that homeviewers probably wished someone covered her with a blanket instead.

Where’s Hady Mirza when you need him?

But 2018 offers a fresh start.

Even though the weather is wet and gloomy, university students are wearing slippers, shorts and T-shirts to class, much to the disapproval of at least one Straits Times forum letter writer.

“We do not see our MPs and ministers wearing slippers, shorts and T-shirts in Parliament,” said the letter writer.

Who knows? Perhaps Mediacorp edited the parliamentary videos with certain bits removed so that we do not see our MPs and ministers wearing slippers, shorts and T-shirts in Parliament.

MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng could be wearing Crocs to Parliament House, but Channel NewsAsia’s video server did not render the video of his footwear properly.

Still, let us usher in the new year with optimism and sunshine smiles despite an MRT breakdown between the Tanah Merah and Changi Airport stations on the first work day of the new year.

We need to be in good spirits to tackle the pressing and longer term challenges for Singapore besides faulty trains and glitchy video servers.

One urgent challenge I would like to see settled is who our next Queen of Caldecott Hill will be.

The current Queen of Caldecott Hill, Zoe Tay, will be celebrating her 50th birthday (or ZT50 for short) on Wednesday.

Yes, the Mediacorp actress had a birthday party last week at Suntec City (to which I wasn’t invited), but her birthday is actually on Jan 10.

Like SG50, ZT50 is not just a one-day affair. All that’s missing is a new Dick Lee song that everyone hates because it’s not as good as (and can never be as good as) Home.

In five short years, Tay will be eligible to withdraw from CPF. Not that I think she is over the hill — even if that hill is Caldecott.

Tay has been the Queen of Caldecott Hill for so long that there is no Caldecott Hill any more. Actually, Caldecott Hill is still there, but Mediacorp completed its move to Buona Vista last year.

So technically, Tay is now the Queen of Buona Vista, which, admittedly, doesn’t quite have the same ring.

Buona Vista is also home to many other organisations, such as the Ministry of Education and shipping company NOL, which may have their own queens with claims to the Buona Vista crown.

This could be like Game Of Thrones but without the incest (one hopes).

It could be just easier to call Tay the Queen of Mediacorp.

But then the new Mediacorp chief executive officer, Ms Tham Loke Kheng, might have something to say about that.

To avoid such complications (and icky sibling sex scenes), let’s just stick to Queen of Caldecott Hill for now.

So who can succeed Tay as Queen of Caldecott Hill?

What about Fann Wong? After all, isn’t she already like the Deputy Queen (DQ) of Caldecott Hill?

The bad news is that just as Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam don’t seem to be in the running to be Singapore’s next prime minister, DQ Wong (who will be turning 47 later this month) appears unlikely to be the next Queen.

Maybe someone younger, like bad driver Rui “Do you know who I am?” En or one-time NTUC Income shill Rebecca “I’m retiring, I’m not retiring” Lim?

I know who it won’t be — Sharon Au.

Last week, the TV host-actress-executive announced that she is leaving Mediacorp after 22 years.

Remember when she acted as Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in The LKY Musical in 2015? That was after she played a supporting role to another politician in real life.

During the 2011 presidential election, she spoke at a rally for then-candidate Tony Tan Keng Yam.

And he won.

At this rate, Au is likelier to be the next Prime Minister of Singapore than the next Queen of Caldecott Hill.

There, Mr Goh Chok Tong, problem solved.

So if not Au or Wong or Rui En or Lim, then who will succeed Tay?

Perhaps there can only be one Queen of Caldecott Hill. The title will probably die with Tay since it’s obsolete anyway.

Long may she reign.

This is my wish for the new year — a Singapore in good hands, a Singapore where cover singers can hit the high notes in a Clean Bandit song.

Happy New Year and Happy ZT50 to Her Royal Highness!

- Published in The New Paper, 8 January 2018

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

What my daughter ate & drank in Taiwan

Mos Burger:

Comebuy milk tea:


Winter melon tea:

Traditional handmade ice-cream:

A restaurant called Kao Chi:

Smoothie House:

Some traditional pancake thing:

Grilled mochi on a stick:

Beef cubes cooked with a blowtorch:

Tim Ho Wan:

Toast Box:

Jamba Juice:

Din Tai Fung:

Grilled cuttlefish:

Ice-cream popiah (which she didn't like):

Hotel breakfast:

Hot-Star fried chicken:

Hazelnut milk tea at Shifen:

A xiao long bao restaurant in Jiufen:

Fried milk on a stick:

Taiwanese sausage:

Matcha latte at Taiwan's Koi, whatever that means:

Airport foodcourt:

READ: My wife on how she survived Taiwan


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