Jumping into longkangs and Phua Chu Kang: Pierre Png reminisces on his past for National Day
As an actor, Pierre Png has many fond memories of Phua Chu Kang, which was his television debut.
“Everything that I’ve learned, I credit to Phua Chu Kang,” he told AsiaOne in a recent interview to promote his new medical drama Healing Heroes.
Being punctual, for example, was a trait that was instilled in him due to the show being a sitcom filmed in front of a live audience.
“When we recorded in front of a live audience, you got the immediate reaction from the audience, be it a sad scene or a joke that has been told three to four times — but audiences still laughed,” the 48-year-old added.
He got the two-fold experience of performing live while also having the “safety net” of pre-recorded episodes.
Bringing us down memory lane, Pierre said he grew up along Upper Serangoon Road and Serangoon Avenue.
“My most memorable childhood memories of the place are just jumping into the drains they call longkangs, catching spiders, playing marbles,” he reminisced. “Just really old-school games.”
The area was called Chia Keng in Teochew, which means ‘car lane’, he added. Coincidentally, Pierre himself has a love-hate relationship with the speed limit.
“I think we can afford to increase the speed limit on some roads,” he said, stating that cars travel a lot faster in this day and age. “While it is a good and bad thing, [it’s not guaranteed that] if you travel at 90 kilometers an hour you will not meet an accident.
“At the end of the day, it depends on what kind of a driver you want to be. If you want to be a considerate driver, you’ll adhere to the speed limit, especially on expressways.”
Pierre felt national service (NS) is an experience unique and irreplaceable to Singapore. Back in his day, he remembered, he had to serve for two-and-a-half years.
“NS has got to be the one sure thing that you'll never be able to find anywhere else in the world,” he said. “Seeing everyone from different walks of life and different upbringings coming together, learning how to work together and learning how to do your part, to defend your nation.”
Pierre plays a neurosurgeon in Healing Heroes, which required him to have a one-on-one session with the real professionals to understand the role he would play.
Eventually, his character becomes a patient himself.
“I spoke to the neurosurgeon and what he shared with me was very real,” Pierre said. “You actually go into denial first, and you try to reason with yourself how you could have avoided these circumstances.
“The advice he gave me was to play it for real.”
Catch Pierre in Healing Heroes, alongside Chen Hanwei, Ann Kok, Shaun Chen, Paige Chua and Zhang Zetong on Channel 8 and meWATCH. The 130-episode drama debuts Aug 9 after the National Day Parade on Channel 8 and will be telecast subsequently at 7.30pm on weekdays.