From Black & White to Colour…

Just like radio, television broadcasting has come a long way in Singapore. There were plans to develop it as early as 1956, but they did not materialised until six years later.

It officially began in 1963 when Television Singapura was set up to offer an English-Malay Channel 5 and a Mandarin-Tamil Channel 8. A year later, advertisements were first telecast between programs as one of the alternate income sources for the subsidised station.

In 1965, the year of Singapore’s independence, the television station was able to screen the most defining moment of our nation as Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman announced the separation of Singapore and Malaysia.

Thousands in Singapore cramped into various community centres to watch former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on the national TV as he famously said with tears, “For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I have believed in merger and unity of the two territories.

The new independent government of Singapore took control of both Television Singapura and Radio Singapura and combined them as Radio Television Singapura (RTS). A new station was built at Caldecott Hill at a cost of $3.6 million in 1966, and it has been the center of local media industry till today.

Another milestone was reached in 1974 when RTS started screening coloured telecasts; the 1974 World Cup Finals shown in live had attracted overwhelming responses.

In order to grant RTS with great autonomy so it could expand its operation and improve its efficiency, the parliament passed a bill to turn RTS into a statutory board. Hence, in 1980, the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) was born.

Several interesting children series were introduced in 1982 but the most memorable one was perhaps Little DD (小DD) which told a story of a robot and its friendship with six children.

Moving ahead, the eighties represented the golden era of local Chinese dramas. The first drama, Seletar Robbery (实里达大劫案) of 1982, was made up of only one episode. The 6-episode Army Series (新兵小传), launched in early 1983, left a deep impression to the local audience with its interesting plot about the National Service (NS) life. The Flying Fish (小飞鱼) was introduced in August in conjunction with the National Day in 1983.

The Awakening (雾锁南洋) of 1984 was truly Singapore’s first local blockbuster drama. The storyline, which described the life of early Chinese immigrants, the resistance against Japanese Occupation and the difficulties of an independent Singapore, captured the imagination of countless Singaporean fans in front of their TVs. The drama and its sequels, as well as the soundtracks, became instant hits.

By the mid-to-late eighties, SBC was producing popular dramas with strong local flavours, such as Son of Pulau Tekong (亚答籽), The Coffee Shop (咖啡乌), Samsui Women (红头巾), Five Foot Way (五脚基), Teahouse in Chinatown (牛车水人家), The Last Applause (舞榭歌台) and Good Morning Sir! (早安老师).

Son of Pulau Tekong was the special one as it recorded the lives of the island’s natives and how they had moved to mainland Singapore before Pulau Tekong was redeveloped as a military base. NS personnel of yesteryears would be familiar with the large transportation ship RPL (Ramp Powered Launch) that appeared in the drama.

The various theme songs were also extremely popular among the local viewers.

Local Chinese dramas reached its peak in the nineties with several blockbusters such as The Unbeatables (双天至尊) in 1993, The Golden Pillow (金枕头) in 1995, Tofu Street (豆腐街) in 1996 and Stepping Out (出路) in 1999. With the influence of foreign dramas from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the popularity of local dramas experienced a decline in the new millennium. The Little Nyonya (小娘惹) was one of the few recent ones that received rave reviews.

SBC was privatised in 1994 to become Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS). Within three years, between 1994 and 1997, TCS produced as many as 44 telemovies, some of which proved to be quite popular, such as Cupid Love (七月俏佳人) in 1995.

Among those who had watched SBC Channel 8 since its beginning, many would remember the various comedians that had dominated the Mandarin channel. Wang Sha and Ye Feng (王沙, 野峰) were the earliest pair to humour the audience with their dialect jokes. Hua Liang and Zhao Jing (华亮, 兆锦) followed in their footsteps and were the funny faces of the eighties, while Jack Neo and Moses Lim rose and helped sitcoms peak in the nineties.

Variety shows were also hugely popular on Channel 8, enjoying high viewership from Sharp Nite (声宝之夜) (1969-1981), Live from Studio One (缤纷83) (1983–1990), Perfect Match (金童玉女一线牵) (1985–1989), to the recent City Beat (城人新杂志) series.

Chen Shu Cheng (陈澍承), Zhou Ru Zhu (周如珠), Zhang Yong Quan (张永权), Wang Xiang Qing (王相钦) and Huang Yu Ling (黄毓玲) were the some of the most popular variety show hosts from the late eighties to early nineties. Evergreen artiste Chen Shu Cheng has been excelling in both hosting and dramas for decades.

Over at Channel 5, locally-produced English dramas had been lagging behind their Mandarin counterparts. It was not until 1994 before the first English drama, Masters of the Sea, was produced. Triple Nine followed, but it was Growing Up, lasting a total of six seasons from 1996 to 2001, that successfully attracted the most local fans.

Channel 5 was also the prime channel for then free-to-air English Division One and Italian Serie A football, and National Basketball Association (NBA) games. Delighted football and basketball fans were glued to their TVs every week, watching the likes of Ian Rush, Marco Van Basten, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

When SBC began in 1984, it also launched Channel 12 catered for art and cultural program lovers. From the mid-nineties to the new millennium, the channel evolved into Malay channel Suria, Indian channel Vasantham and okto, the channel for global films, wildlife and arts documentaries.

When TCS was restructured to become MediaCorp TV in 2001, the Singapore Press Holdings joined in the media broadcasting industry with two free-to-air channels: Channel U and Channel i. However, the rivalry would last only three years as SPH MediaWorks merged with MediaCorp in 2004, a move that led to the cease of operation in Channel i.

MediaCorp was relocated to its new premises at one-north of Buona Vista in 2017, marking the end of its 50-plus year stay at Caldecott Hill.

Published: 13 August 2011

Updated: 01 January 2019

This entry was posted in Nostalgic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to From Black & White to Colour…

  1. Nostalgia Buff says:

    Keep it up! I really enjoy your site and these bits of information bring back so many fond memories for me.

  2. Rajvinder Singh says:

    Samsui Women!

  3. stonesharon says:

    thanks for this, i know many friends from the show 金童玉女一线牵. now still friends after 20+ years

  4. Veteran Channel 8 actor Huang Wenyong has passed away at the age of 60.

    Thanks for accompanying us, one whole generation of Singaporeans, in the past 30 years with your brilliant performances on TV. You’ll be missed. RIP 😦

    BREAKING: Huang has just passed away in hospital earlier today on 20th April 2013. Huang was previously subject to a death hoax earlier in the month, claiming that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. There was public concern after Huang appeared visibly haggard during the 30th Anniversary Drama Show. He clarified that he had been suffering from stomach flu, and had not recovered fully due to a hectic schedule and irregular meal times.

    Huang joined the SBC’s drama training class in the 1980s and has appeared in numerous dramas and sitcoms. He is perhaps best known by his own generation for his appearance in The Awakening in which he played love interest to Xiang Yun’s character and The Seletar Robbery during the 1980s. More recently, he is remembered for starring alongside Chew Chor Meng the long-running popular series Don’t Worry, Be Happy (1996-2002) and its spin-off Lobang King.

    Huang was been nominated for the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes every single year in the annual Star Awards since its inception in 1994.

  5. SBC programs and dramas (Channel 8) of the 80s… How many can you remember?

    Fantastic Idea 想入非非
    Spring is Always Green 悲欢年华
    Sunset 落日余晖
    The Girl in a Rush 跑女
    The Ingenious Six 六小无猜
    The Merry Bunch 绿野童心
    When Will I See You Again 又见黄花

    Seletar Robbery 实里达大劫案
    Ah Tu 阿突
    Little DD 小DD
    Diamond Chase 圣淘沙之旅
    A Toothache 老虎拔牙
    The Time Machine 时光倒流
    Nobody’s Child 鸡蛋开花
    Who Stole The Watch 电子手表
    Mother’s Birthday Present 一束花
    The Bean Sprouts 小豆芽

    Army Series 新兵小传
    Flying Fish 小飞鱼
    Endless Knots 情结
    The Way To Judo 蒲公英
    All that Glitters is Not Gold 捷径
    CID ’83 狮城勇探
    Mother 母亲
    Double Blessings 春风得意
    Glass Boat 玻璃船
    A Breakfast Story 早餐的故事
    Young and Innocent 小无知

    The Awakening 1 雾锁南洋I – 天长地久 / 狮城拂晓
    Four Day Chat 四日谈
    The Darkest Hour 晚来风急
    The New Year 新年乐
    Where’s Daddy? 再见爸爸
    Youth 年轻人
    Blossoms in the Sun 阳光蜜糖
    In the Wilderness 荒原
    The Awakening 2 雾锁南洋II – 风雨同舟 / 赤道朝阳

    Tycoon 豪门内外
    Growing Up 吾家有子
    Son of Pulau Tekong 亚答籽
    Takeover 人在旅途
    The Coffee Shop 咖啡乌
    Home is where Love is 吾爱吾家
    Men From The Past 大侠吴三奇
    Pursuit 怒海萍踪
    The Happy Trio 青春123
    The Unyielding Butterflies 铁蝴蝶
    The Young Heroes 少年英雄

    Samsui Women 红头巾
    Neighbours 芝麻绿豆
    Crossroads 1 红绿灯之”绿影”
    Crossroads 2 红绿灯之”红灯”
    Crossroads 3 红绿灯之”黄昏”
    First Step 踏上征途
    Men of Valour 盗日英雄传
    Sunshine After Rain 雨过天晴
    The Bond 天涯同命鸟
    The Sword and Song 绝代双雄
    Under One Roof 家和万事兴
    Family Hour Drama 我爱旧家园

    Five Foot Way 五脚基
    Paint a Rainbow 调色板
    Painted Faces 戏班
    Pickpockets 提防小手
    Strange Encounters 1 奇缘
    Fury of the Dragon 冷月剑无言
    Heiress 世纪情
    I Do 君子好逑
    Movin’ On 变迁
    On the Fringe 边缘少年
    Silk and Satin 云想衣裳
    Star Maiden 飞越银河

    Airforce 空军
    Mystery 1 迷离夜1
    My Fair Ladies 窈窕淑女
    Song of Youth 生活歌手
    Strange Encounters 2 奇缘2
    Teahouse in Chinatown 牛车水人家
    The Fortune Hunters 钻石人生
    The Golden Quest 金麒麟
    The Last Applause 舞榭歌台
    Ups and Downs 婚姻保险
    When Hearts Touch 似水柔情

    Good Morning, Sir!早安老师
    A Long Way Home 燃烧岁月
    A Mother’s Love 亲心唤我心
    Magic of Dance 鼓舞青春
    My Sweet Rival 摩登俏冤家
    Patrol 铁警雄风
    Return of the Prince 丝路迷城
    Splash to Victory 绿水英姿
    The Sword Rules 剑断江湖
    Turn of the Tide 浮沉
    Two Different Lives 金兰结
    We are Family 四代同堂
    My Daughters’ Three 芳华满一家


    • Marching on into the 1990s…

      The Winning Team飞跃巅峰
      Against the Wind 启航
      By My Side 逆风天使
      Enchanted Eyes 天眼
      Finishing Line 出人头地
      Friends Next Door 我爱芳邻
      Happy Family 开心家族
      Imperial Intrigue 大内双宝
      Journey’s End 生命街车
      Marry Me 最佳配偶
      Navy 壮志豪情
      Starting Over 暖流
      Sweet Dreams 欣欣向荣
      The Village Hero 大吉传奇
      Two of Us 天生一对
      When Dawn Breaks 乱世黎明
      Wishing Well 幻海奇遇

      Happy World 多多富贵多多情
      Pretty Faces 三面夏娃
      Behind Bars 铁狱雷霆
      Black Phoenix 黑凤凰
      Changing Fortunes 天赐奇才
      Fatal Endearment 谍海危情
      From Heaven to Earth 七彩人间
      Golden Shenton Way 金色珊顿道
      Guardian Angel 爸爸怕怕
      Home Sweet Home 宜家宜乐
      Private Eyes 妙探智多星
      Romance of the Season 恋曲
      Secret Operations 急转弯
      The Darkest Hour 烈血青春
      The Future is Mine 锦绣前程
      The Last Swordsman 最后一个大侠
      The Legend of a Beauty 一代天骄
      The Other Woman 醋劲
      The Woman I Marry 家有恶妻
      The Working Class 上班一族

      Fiery Passion烈焰焚情
      Ladies in Action 霹雳红唇
      Memories of June 六月的童话
      Crime and Passion 执法先锋
      The Male Syndrome 妙男正传
      A Time to Dance 火舞风云
      Between Friends 山水喜相逢
      Crazy Chase 富贵也疯狂
      Duel in Shanghai 轰天龙虎斗
      Lady’s Steel 激情女大亨
      Love is in the Air 爱在女儿乡
      Mini Drama in Variety Tonight Modern Romance 男欢女爱
      My Buddies 浪漫战场
      Mystery II 迷离夜II
      Terms of Endearment 戏剧人生
      The Breaking Point 暴风边缘
      The Dating Game 爱情乒乓球
      Woman of Substance 悲欢岁月

      Heavenly Beings再战封神榜
      Endless Love 未了缘
      The Young and the Restless 俏皮战士
      The Witty Advisor 金牌师爷
      The Wilful Siblings 斗气姐妹
      Angel of Vengeance 暴雨狂花
      Battle of Justice 人海孤鸿
      Happy Foes 欢喜冤家
      Happy Reunion 年年有鱼
      Heaven’s Will 天机风云
      Hidden Truths 法网情天
      Ninjas in Town 伏魔奇兵
      Reaching for the Stars 银海惊涛
      Ride the Waves 卿本佳人
      Sister Dearest 妹俏娇娃
      Smouldering Heat 赤道谜情
      Switch 妙鬼临门
      That Moment in Time 红尘独舞
      The Brave Ones 荡寇英雄
      The Great Conspiracy 莲花争霸
      The Invincible Warriors 皇朝铁将金粉情
      The Unbeatables 双天至尊

      Dr Justice 法医故事
      Truly Yours 聪明糊涂心
      Against All Odds 共闯荆途
      Double Life 潇洒走一回
      Lethal Duo 天使追缉令
      Bond of Love 情网
      Double Trouble 叔侄也疯狂
      Dreams Come True 美梦成真
      Fiery Lover 烈火情人
      Lady Investigator 神机妙算俏佳娃
      Love at Last 真心男儿
      Neighbourhood Heroes 大城小警
      Scorned Angel冷太阳
      Shadows in the Dark 一号凶宅
      Silk and Romance 情丝万缕
      Tales of the City 都市奇情
      The Challenger 勇者无惧
      The Legendary White Snake 白蛇后传之人间有爱
      The Magnate 叱咤风云
      The Valiant One 昆仑奴
      Those Were the Days 生命擂台
      Thunder Plot 惊天大阴谋
      Twin Bliss 龙凤呈祥
      Web of Deceit 鹤啸九天
      Young Justice Bao 侠义包公

      A Different Life妈姐情缘
      Chronicle of Life 缘尽今生
      Coffee or Tea 是非屋
      Dr Justice 2 法医故事
      Heart Beat 医胆仁心
      Heavenly Ghost Catcher 天师钟馗
      Morning Express 阳光列车
      The Teochew Family 潮州家族
      The Golden Pillow 金枕头
      Deep Within My Heart 爱在心处
      Dream Hunters追心一族
      Embroidered Banner 花帜
      Homes in 168 大牌
      It’s My World 还我半边天
      King of Hades 阎罗传奇
      Legends of the White Hair Brides 塞外奇侠
      Over The Horizons 展翅高飞
      Project ‘B’ B 计划
      Secret Files 机密档案
      Sparks of Life 生命火花
      Strange Encounters 3 奇缘3
      Tales of the Third Kind 第三类剧场
      The Dragons Five 飞龙五将
      The Last Rhythm 曲终魂断
      The Morning Express 2 阳光列车 2
      The Shadow Mission 地下猎人
      Larceny Of Love 雌雄大盗

      Tofu Street 豆腐街
      Mirror of Life 实况剧场
      The Unbeatables 2 双天至尊II
      A Romance in Shanghai 新上海假期
      Diary Of A Teacher 老师的日记
      Ah Xue Part 1 阿雪
      Ah Xue Part 2 阿雪II
      Beyond Dawn 女子监狱
      Creative Edge 创意先锋
      Courting Trouble 婚姻法庭
      The Prime Years 创意兴家
      Dr Justice 2 法医故事II
      Time After Time 我来自
      Kungfu Master 1996 掌门人
      Love in a Foreign City 富贵双城
      Marriage, Dollars and Sense 5C老公
      My Destiny with You 缘来是你
      My Family, My Wife 高家万岁
      Brave New World 新阿郎
      Of Cops and Men 城市双雄
      Ordinary Ambitions 阳光伴我行
      Places in My Heart 万里情空
      River of Love 风雨柴船头
      San Shui Women 三水红头巾
      Royal Battle of Wit 妙师爷三斗毒太监
      Singapore Stories 新加坡故事
      Tales of the Third Kind 2 第三类剧场2
      Tales of the Third Kind 3 第三类剧场3
      The Legends of Ji Gong 济公活佛
      Triad Justice 飞越珍珠坊
      Triumph Over the Green 要拼球会嬴
      The Unbroken Cycle 解连环
      Wild Orchids 再见萤光兰

      The Royal Monk 真命小和尚之无字天书(co-production/海外合拍)
      The Choice Partner 错爱今生
      Longing 悲情年代
      The Price of Peace 和平的代价
      Living by Night 都是夜归人
      Immortal Love 不老的传说
      From the Medical Files 医生档案
      The Guest People 客家之歌
      3-in-1 Love 爱情三合一
      A Place to Call Home 薯条汉堡青春豆
      Back to School 摩登状元
      Crimes and Tribulations 狮城奇案录
      Danger in Sight 迷离剧场
      Dreams 七个梦
      Mirror Of Life 2 实况剧场2
      My Wife, Your Wife, Their Wives 101老婆
      Not the Facts 迷离剧场
      Playing to Win Uncle当自强
      Rising Expectations 长河
      Roses, Complete with Thorns 单身女郎
      Starting Point 青春列车
      Sword and Honour 铁血男儿
      Tales of the City 2 都市奇情2
      The Other Parent 妈妈先生
      The Silver Lining 骤雨骄阳

      My Little Angel我家小豆豆
      Facing the Music 钢琴
      Stand By Me 家人有约
      My Teacher, Aiyoyo! 哎哟哟奇妙假期
      Return of the Condor Heroes 神雕侠侣
      Driven by a Car 欲望街车
      The New Adventures of Wisely 卫斯理传奇
      The Legends of the Eight Immortals 东游记
      Act 235 刑事
      Around People’s Park 珍珠街坊
      Mind Games 危险人物
      Living in Geylang 芽笼芽笼
      Men at the Crossroads 四个好涩的男人
      Myths and Legends of Singapore 石叻坡传说
      Office Affairs 哈比旅行社
      On the Edge – Mr Personality 边缘档案之 – 风度翩翩先生
      Riding the Storm 陌生人
      Season of Love 甜甜的季节
      Singapore Short Stories 小说剧场
      Taxi Driver 德士司机
      The Royal Monk 2 真命小和尚之十二铜人(co-production/海外合拍)
      A Piece of Sky 锁不住的天空
      The Scam 豪门奇骗

      Wok of Life 福满人间
      Out to Win 步步为赢
      Stepping Out 出路
      Are You My Brother? 错体双宝
      Bright Future 同一片蓝天
      Coup De Scorpion 天蝎行动
      Darling-In-Law 我的岳母是巫婆
      From the Courtroom 法庭故事
      From the Medical Files 2 医生档案 II
      God of Fortune 财星高照
      Hero of the Times 新方世玉
      Recital of Being 生之颂
      Legends of Nezha 莲花童子-哪咤
      Lost Soul 另类佳人
      Mr OK OK先生
      My Grandpa 公公,你的名字很难叫
      My Teacher, My Friend 小岛醒了
      P.I. Blues 乌龙档案
      S.N.A.G 新好男人
      The Millennium Bug 千年虫


  6. Sally says:

    I stumbled onto your site while searching for an old actor by the name of chen Yi, 陈亦。 seems no one I asked around can remember him. Will you by any chance know this tall and skinny actor. He should be in his 70-80s if still around.

  7. sgparlay says:

    Another veteran of the local showbiz has passed away

    SINGAPORE – Veteran actor S. Shamsuddin, who shot to fame for his comedic turns in Malay-language films in the 1950s and 1960s, has died in Singapore today at 10.56am. He was 84 years old, according to Bernama news agency. It is unclear what the cause of death was.

    Born in Pasir Panjang, Shamsuddin reportedly stumbled into film-making when a studio visit led to an offer of a role as an extra. He went on to act in dozens of films, including alongside movie legend P. Ramlee, and was awarded a special award for Veteran Male Actor in the 2009 Malaysia Film Festival.

  8. iamkf says:

    Reblogged this on IAMKF'S ROOM and commented:
    ❤ omg i love dou fu jie and growing up and the little nyonya ❤

  9. bao says:

    I was wondering where we can get a copy of 1990 enchanted eyes.

  10. Another milestone in Singapore TV..

    Transition to Digital TV as Analogue TV signals turn off on Jan 1 midnight

    01 Jan 2019
    Channel NewsAsia

    Singapore will transition from analogue to digital television (DTV) at midnight on Jan 1, 2019, paving the way for better quality pictures, superior sound, multi-language subtitles and electronic programme guides.

    Singapore is among the latest countries to go digital, joining the likes of the United States, Canada, Japan and South Korea, as part of a global trend.

    The Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) said that over 90 per cent of Singapore’s households were DTV ready.

    It added that assistance will be rendered to the 10 per cent who have yet to make the switch.

  11. merv says:

    Is there any forum where people still talk and discuss old singapore tv show?

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