If you were a massive fan of 9PM Channel 8 dramas growing up, this article is sure to get you feeling nostalgic!
Mediacorp recently announced the star-studded lineup for its new drama, Emerald Hill, a spin-off of the beloved 2008 television series The Little Nyonya.
Almost 16 years later, Emerald Hill is confirmed to debut in the first half of 2025 on Channel 8, airing weekdays at 9PM. The drama features rising talents Tasha Low, Chantalle Ng, and Ferlyn G as its female leads, with Tyler Ten and Zhang Zetong as the male leads.
Other members of this star-studded cast include veteran actress Zoe Tay, Shaun Chen, Romeo Tan and Sheila Sim!
Jeanette Aw, who portrayed the titular “Little Nonya” Yueniang in the original series, surprised fans of the series when she was confirmed to return to reprise her role.
She had also played Yueniang’s mute mother Juxiang in the same show.
44-year-old Aw, with over two decades of acting accolades and awards under her belt, expressed her excitement about reprising her character in Emerald Hill on social media:
“Never have I ever thought that 16 years on, I’d be invited to reprise this role of Yueniang Yamamoto. See you on-screen soon.”
As the character of Yueniang had already passed away at the end of The Little Nonya, the spin-off series is assumed to take place sometime after Yueniang has married her husband Paul, and before she narrates her life story to her granddaughter.
In Emerald Hill, Yueniang is now the mother to Zhang Zetong’s character, though how big of a role she would ultimately play has yet to be seen.
More About the Main Cast of Characters
Tasha Low, will star as the female main character Zhang Xinniang.
The 30-year-old actress first made her debut in the entertainment industry as the leader of Singapore-Korean girl group Skarf.
Now based in Singapore, Tasha has taken on a handful of local acting projects, including 2020’s The Diam Diam Era and its sequel. She had also played key roles in Chinese mediacorp dramas Mind Jumper and Live Your Dreams.
Xinniang was a homeless child who had to fend for herself on the streets with her foster mother, played by Chen Liping.
Xinniang eventually realises that she was the long-lost daughter of the wealthy Zhang family, Anya, and rejoins her birth family.
Several years later, however, the real Anya, played by Ferlyn G, is revealed, causing strife and tension in the family.
Coincidentally, co-star Ferlyn G was Tasha’s bandmate in the group Skarf. The actress had most recently starred in popular 2023 Mediacorp series I Do, Do I?, where she played Jiang Yihua, a Korean woman who married into a Singaporean family and struggles to adapt to their culture and customs.
Chantalle Ng takes on the role of Anna, Xinniang’s cunning cousin, who serves as the primary antagonist in the series.
Zoe Tay portrays the family matriarch, Liu Xiuniang, who navigates the complicated family dynamics with her children and in-laws. Her eldest son, played by Shaun Chen, is married to Jojo Goh’s character. The couple have a son, played by Nick Teo.
Romeo Tan plays Ah Jie’s third son, while Sheila Sim plays her youngest daughter.
(Zoe Tay and Shaun Chen are merely 10 years apart in age, we wonder how the producers are going to physically age her up onscreen.)
The drama’s male leads, played by Tyler Ten and Zhang Zetong, will serve as love interests for the main character Xinniang.
The production boasts an array of talent, including Dawn Yeoh, Desmond Ng, Zhang Yaodong, Herman Keh, Zhai Siming, and Yes 933 DJ Zhu Zeliang.
As of 1 February 2024, there has been no confirmed director or producer for Emerald Hill, but whoever they are, I would think that they would have their hands full trying to live up to its predecessor.
Emerald Hill has Big Shoes to Fill
The original The Little Nyonya, which stars Qi Yuwu and Joanne Peh alongside aforementioned Jeanette Aw, is widely regarded as one of the best television series produced by Channel 8.
The show achieved immense popularity when it aired 16 years ago, with an average of 993,000 viewes per episode. It culminated in a record-breaking viewership of 33.8% for its finale and bagged a total of nine Star Awards wins, including Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Drama Series!
Set in the 1930s and spanning over the course of 70 years, The Little Nonya was a story of a tragic heroine who empowers herself to break free from her abusive family and take charge of her own life.
The television series also provided insight into the unique Peranakan culture, introducing their food, clothes, architecture and traditions to the modern Singaporean audience. It also shed light on how the people had lived their lives during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1932.
The touching tale not only resonated with locals, but with audiences outside our island.
In 2020, a Chinese remake of The Little Nyonya featured Xiao Yan and Kou Chia-jui, with Dai Xiangyu reprising his role from the original series. It was a joint production between iQiyi, Changxin Pictures and Singapore-based G.H.Y Culture & Media.
Singapore would eventually air the remake which premiered on 5 January 2021 at 11PM. The series finale aired on 10 March 2021.
The enduring appeal of The Little Nyonya continues with Emerald Hill, promising audiences an engaging and captivating viewing experience.
While waiting for the spin-off to air in 2025, you can relive the magic of the original 2008 series on mewatch!
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