Bernice Liu joins the hot seat

Bernice Liu joins the hot seat
Hong Kong actress Bernice Liu.

HONG KONG - Canadian-born Hong Kong actress Bernice Liu filmed a new drama with new network HKTV, but the show is now in limbo.

Two weeks ago, the Hong Kong government rejected the company's application for a free-to-air licence.

This means that even if the company - which was founded in 2009 by City Telecom boss Ricky Wong - had finished producing shows, there is no outlet on TV for the programmes to be aired.

Liu, who had filmed the musical drama Once Upon A Song with the company, describes the government's decision as "a pity".

Speaking to Life! at an interview, the bubbly 34-year-old says in English: "This is a drama that is something like an Asian version of Glee and Smash with a lot of singing and dancing, and Hong Kong has never had that kind of show on TV before, so I was really excited about this show going on air. Audiences, as well as artists like us, are always looking for new types of shows, and I think we all deserve more programming options."

It is said that HKTV was set up to rival Hong Kong's long running free-to-air broadcasters TVB and ATV.

Liu was in town to promote the launch of cHK (SingTel mio TV Channel 510), a new channel that features her crime drama SFC In Action, which looks at white-collar criminals and their shady business deals.

She supported the week-long sit-in outside the Hong Kong government headquarters following a mass street protest on Oct 20 A reported estimate of 120,000 people including celebrities, HKTV staff and members of the public took to the streets to protest against the government's decision and to demand an explanation.

Celebrities at the event included stars Maggie Cheung Ho Yee, Frankie Lam and Yoyo Mung, who had all left TVB and hopped over to join HKTV.

Liu, who signed with talent agency MediaQuiz after leaving TVB in 2011, was not at the Oct 20 mass protest as she was away at a breast cancer awareness event, but she joined the sit-in three days later.

"I brought food and drinks for my friends there to support them.

"Basically, this is a movement that proves that the audience's voice is bigger than anyone expected - that we want not just quantity, but quality programmes."

She adds: "I think these protests will lead to some changes. It just shows how strong the public's opinions are. You can't stop a movement this powerful."

Last Friday, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun Ying said that he would explain the rationale behind the government's decision to a court of law, and stated that the government had "complied with procedural justice" in coming to the decision.

HKTV chairman Wong has said that he may consider selling the already-produced programmes to other channels or outlets.

Whether HKTV gets the go-ahead in the future, Liu does not have too much to worry about her own career.

She has done a number of TV dramas in mainland China, and is now based there "nine out of 12 months".

She says cheerily: "It's really been great working in China because I got to learn so much. At first, I didn't speak any Mandarin at all, so I really had to make myself learn Mandarin and practise it with everyone else."

She adds that working in China means that she gets adequate time for rest too.

"In China, the rule is that you always get eight hours in between one day's shoot and the next day because there's only one main crew.

"But in Hong Kong, we film with two different crew, so we work double the time."

Having said that, she is willing to do more dramas with TVB if the right script comes along. "The good thing about being signed with MediaQuiz is that I can work for any station. So if TVB offers me a script where the story really jumps out at me and gets me excited, then sure, I will do it. "

Liu joined showbusiness after winning the Miss Chinese International beauty pagent in 2001 and signed a long-term contract with TVB. Some of her most famous roles with TVB include Princess Sam Tim in the long-running sitcom Virtues Of Harmony (2001-2003) and a Latin dance instructor in Steps (2007), which earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the TVB Anniversary Awards.

After leaving TVB in 2011, her productions in China included period dramas Mystery In The Palace (2011) and Lucky Treasure (2013). She once dated Hong Kong actor Moses Chan, 42, who is now married and expecting a child with actress Aimee Chan, 32.

Liu declares she is now "single, but is open to dating".

With a laugh, she says: "The funny thing is that I don't feel pressured about romance and neither have my parents said anything. But it is my friends who keep giving me hints about it.

"Whenever I'm back in Hong Kong and I meet them for dinner, they will bring another 'friend' along without telling me. I know exactly what they're trying to do, and it's just hilarious."

She adds: "I'm really happy right now. They really don't have to worry so much."

yipwy@sph.com.sg

SFC In Action airs on cHK (SingTel mio TV Channel 510) on Sundays at 9pm.


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