Filming finally ends for longest-running local drama

Filming finally ends for longest-running local drama
Chew Chor Meng (left) and Pan Lingling (right) buried their faces in each other's embrace and wept uncontrollably after filming for popular long-running drama 118 wrapped.
PHOTO: The New Paper

There was hardly a dry eye on the last day of filming for Channel 8's longest-running local drama 118 at MediaCorp's Studio 6 yesterday.

After the last scene wrapped, lead actors Chew Chor Meng and Pan Lingling, who play a married couple on the 255-episode show, hugged each other and wept uncontrollably.

Actresses from the ensemble cast such as Sheila Sim, Carrie Wong and Somaline Ang also shed tears.

118, which airs on weekdays at 7.30pm, depicts the lives of coffee shop owner Hong Daming (Chew) and his wife Liu Meimei (Pan), as well as the people around them.

The 30-minute drama will air its last episode on Oct 16.

Chew, who was fighting back tears when speaking to The New Paper, said in Mandarin: "I can't bear to leave this big family, I treat them like my own family members. It's a kinship built over the period of one year of filming, it's not a one-off thing."

The 46-year-old added: "After today, I don't know when we will have the chance to get together again like this."


Chew, who suffers from motor neuron condition Kennedy's Disease, which is also known as spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, is also proud that he managed to complete one year of hectic filming - six days a week - without taking a single day's medical leave.

He said between sobs: "When I was asked to do this drama, I didn't know if I had the stamina to do it due to my health.

"But today, I look back and know that I made it. Filming wrapped today but no one is happy. Everyone is very, very sad."

Pan, 45, who overcame breast cancer last year, chipped in: "I've won in my battle (with cancer), but Chor Meng is still fighting his own battle. So all of us would take care of him on set and make sure he got enough rest."

Pan looked at Chew fondly and said: "This is our last day of being husband and wife. It has been a great year."

The on-screen pair, who each have two kids in real life, also took their roles as parents to their on-screen children (played by Dennis Chew, Xu Bin, Ya Hui and Somaline Ang) very seriously. Chew often bought breakfast for everyone when there was filming in the morning.

Chew said: "There are many young actors and actresses on set, and they always come for filming without having their breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day, so I made sure they ate. I am like a real daddy to them."

118, which premiered last October, was initially slated for 190 episodes. But due to its overwhelming popularity, it was extended for another 65 episodes earlier this year.

Pan said the cast members have been begging 118's scriptwriter Ang Eng Tee for a second season.

Mr Ang, 55, said: "Usually I am quite against sequels but for 118, the characters still have room to grow and I think a sequel might be possible. Singaporeans like the show and can relate to it. It would be wasted if we just ended it like that."

Pan said: "The next few days are going to be tough, I will keep thinking back to the set. I will miss my coffee shop and my family."

However, Chew and Pan will soon be busy with new projects.

Chew has a 10-day break before filming local movie Lucky Boy, while Pan begins work on a new Channel 8 drama today.

This article was first published on August 27, 2015.
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