Beyond the Realm of Conscience

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Beyond the Realm of Conscience
Beyond the Realm of Conscience official poster
Genre Costume drama
Written by Ka Wai Nam
Sai Chui Jing
Ho Wing Nin
Tam Chui San
Directed by Fong Chun Chiu
Starring Charmaine Sheh
Tavia Yeung
Michelle Yim
Susanna Kwan
Moses Chan
Kevin Cheng
Joseph Lee
Susan Tse
Selena Li
Mary Hon
Opening theme Kung Sam Kai (攻心計) performed by Susanna Kwan
Ending theme Fung Cheh (風車) performed by Charmaine Sheh
Composer(s) Tang Chi Wai
Country of origin Hong Kong
Original language(s) Cantonese
No. of episodes 31
33 (Production)
Executive producer(s) Mui Siu-ching
Location(s) Hong Kong
Camera setup Multi camera
Running time 42 – 45 minutes
Production company(s) TVB
Original network TVB Jade
Picture format 576i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release 19 October – 29 November 2009
Related shows Can't Buy Me Love (2010)
Deep in the Realm of Conscience (2017)
External links
Beyond the Realm of Conscience
BTROC title.jpg
Title screen
Traditional Chinese 宮心計
Simplified Chinese 宫心计
Literal meaning Palace Scheme

Beyond the Realm of Conscience is a 2009 Hong Kong television series. Produced by Mui Siu-ching, the serial is one of two TVB productions to celebrate along with the channel's 42nd anniversary, the other being Born Rich.[1][2] The drama aired five days a week on the TVB network with 45-minute episodes starting October 19, 2009.

Set in the latter years of the Tang Dynasty, Beyond the Realm of Conscience tells the story of palace maid Lau Sam-ho and her relations in the Imperial Palace, beginning with her experiences in the Imperial Household Bureau (尚宮局). The series title roughly means "Plots in the Palace" and is a play on the phrase (攻心計), a homonym which roughly means "Plots that target and attack the heart".


Gong Choi-king is forced back into the palace with her daughter, Lau Sam-ho and their servant, Yiu Kam-ling. Gong Choi-King comes from a very talented background of jewellery making, therefore she was assigned the task of making a beautiful, gold hairpiece in the shape of a phoenix, with a luminous pearl as the eye and the feathers of a river kingfisher as the tail for the Empress Dowager. However, during the Empress' daily walk around the imperial garden, the phoenix headpiece suddenly weeps tears of blood. Taking this as a sign of bad luck, she throws the hairpiece away and demands the jewellery maker to be severely punished. Gong Choi-King suffers harsh beating as her punishment and eventually passes away. Before passing away, she tells Sam-ho to always remember the significance of her name("Speak good words, do good deeds, show good will."). (Sam-ho literally means three goodness) She also tells her to help and work together with Kam-ling as if they are related sisters.

Around the time of Choi-king's death, Dowager Concubine Cheng's son, Lee Yi (prince) encounters the six years old Sam-ho. He showed kindness to Sam-ho by giving her some white flowers from Choi-king's favourite tree, the Chinese viburnum (瓊花), so she can take it to her dying mother. Empress Dowager was still very angry because of the hair piece and asked the new head of the Jewellery department, Yuen Chui-wan to shatter it. However, Yuen Chui-wan believed that the hairpiece is a one of a kind masterpiece, therefore she injures her own hand to protect it. She tells Empress Dowager that the hair piece is full of bad luck and if it is shattered all the bad luck will merge with the air. Taking this as an advantage Empress Dowager forces Dowager Concubine Cheng to wear the hair piece and tells her because of her good spirit she can block the bad luck from the entering the palace. After a short period of time bad luck begins to happen to Dowager Concubine Cheng and her son Lee Yi. The story was told that Lee Yi fell off a tree, while trying to reach for his kite. The fall injured his head causing his brain to remain as a 6-year-old boy forever. Lee Yi uses this mental illness as an excuse to escape the imminent death threat from the Empress Dowager, Sam-ho gives him some sweet lotus seed candy to comfort him on the journey. Because of this, the young prince begins to develop a small affection for her.

The Imperial Household Bureau is responsible for managing and directing all household services to the Emperor and the Imperial family of the Tang Dynasty. It is made up of four departments, namely the Houses of Jewelry, Attire, Food, and Furnishing. Sam-ho and Kam-ling are introduced into the bureau in their childhood and are brought up as the disciples in the palace. The two girls are very diligent. Yuen Tsui-wan, Head of the Jewels, and Chung Suet-ha, Head of Attire, are both very fond of Sam-ho for she is a kind-hearted young girl and shows great capabilities in the decorative arts of jewellery and silk work. Both of them fight bitterly to have Sam-ho in their departments. In the end, Sam-ho is assigned to Department of Attire while, Kam-Ling is assigned to the Department of Jewelry.

Years later, Sam-ho meets Ko Hin-yeung, a palace scholar and also a chess teacher, the two shares a secret love compassion for one and another. The young prince Yi, has now grown up and he is returning to the palace. Later on in the series he becomes the Emperor after an evading assassinations with the help of Sam-ho and Hin-yeung. He promotes Hin-yeung as the Palace General because of his faithfulness. Sam-ho later becomes the Head of the Jewelry Department. Even though the Emperor has deep feeling for Sam-ho and wants to have Sam-ho as his concubine, he decides to bury his feeling for her when he discovers that Hin-yeung and Sam-ho are deeply in love and that they were planning to leave the palace but stayed to help the Emperor.

Sam-ho and Kam-ling continue to enjoy a very close friendship, treating each other as sisters and this provokes jealousy among other palace girl servants. Time and time again some of them will try to get Sam-ho and Kam-ling into trouble. However, Sam-ho's honesty and kind attitude endears many powerful people in the palace and they always come to her aid. Whereas, Kam-ling uses her cunning mind to get rid of her enemies. As time passed, Kam-ling realised in order to protect herself from the bullying and to be able to survive in the palace she has to be someone who is powerful and respected. Therefore, she slowly works on a scheme to gain favour of the Empress Dowager Cheng, Yi's mother. She was eventually chosen as one of the Yi's concubines. From there she works on a bigger scheme to get rid of all her competitors, which eventually includes Sam-ho.


Note: Some of the characters' names are in Cantonese romanisation.
Main characters from left to right: Lee Yi (Moses Chan), Yuen Chui-wan (Susanna Kwan), Yiu Kam-ling (Tavia Yeung), Lau Sam-ho (Charmaine Sheh), Chung Suet-ha (Michelle Yim), Ko Hin-yeung (Kevin Cheng).

Lau family[edit]

Cast Role Description
Yu Yang Lau Chong Pak
Lau Sam Ho's father
Died in Episode 25 (Poisoned by Head of Army)
Kristal Tin Kong Choi King
Lau Sam Ho's mother
Died in Episode 1 due to wounds from the punishment.
Charmaine Sheh Lau Sam Ho
Palace Maid→Assistant Head of Jewellery→Head of Jewellery Proceedings (Episode 14)→Concubine Tak (Episode 31)
Go Hin Yeung's Wife (Episode 25)
Lee Yi's Crush
Leaves the palace and gives birth to Hin Yeung's daughter (Episode 33)
Tavia Yeung Yiu Kam Ling
Palace Maid→Assistant Head of Jewellery →Concubine Lai (Episode 16)
Miscarriages (Episode 20)
Kills Bo Kat Cheung in Episode 22 (Revealed in Episode 23)
Frames Concubine Yin and her mother, Suen Ka Bik.
Becomes mentally unstable in Episode 33
(Main Villain)

Lee family[edit]

Cast Role Description
Susan Tse Empress Dowager Guo
Empress Dowager → Grand Empress Dowager
Grandmother of Lee Chin
Lee Jau's mother
Died in Episode 14
Mary Hon Empress Dowager Zheng
Concubine Dowager→Empress Dowager
Lee Yi's mother
Died in Episode 32
Eric Li Lee Jau
Emperor Muk Tsung
Died in Episode 2
Edwin Siu Lee Chin
Emperor Mou Tsung
Died in Episode 10
Moses Chan Lee Yi
Prince Kwong→Emperor Suen Tsung
Has a crush on Lau Sam Ho
Jeffrey Wong Lee Chun
Prince of Qi
Eldest son and heir presumptive of Emperor Mou Tsung

Inner palace[edit]

Cast Role Description
Susan Tse Grand Empress Dowager Guo
Grand Empress Dowager Guo→Empress Dowager Guo Killed by Head of Army (Episode 14)
Mary Hon Empress Dowager Cheng
Concubine Dowager Zheng→Empress Dowager Zheng Lee Yi's mother
killed by Concubine Lai (Episode 32)
Tavia Yeung Concubine Lai (Lai Fei)
麗妃 (also 姚金玲)
Concubine to Lee Yi
Episode 16
Selena Li Concubine Yin (Yin Fei)
賢妃 (also 万宝賢)
Concubine to Lee Yi
Episode 16
Miscarriage and died in Episode 31
(killed by Concubine Lai)
Charmaine Sheh Concubine Tak (Tak Fei)
德妃 (also 劉三好)
Concubine to Lee Yi
Married to Ko Hin Yeung in Episode 25
Later leaves the palace
Episode 31
Tracy Ip Noble Concubine Wong
Concubine to Lee Chin
Killed by orders of Grand Empress Dowager Guo to be buried with Lee Chin
Mandy Cho Concubine Wai
Concubine to Lee Chin
Died in Episode 9 (killed by Head of Army)
Lily Li Tsui Ma Ma
Maid of the Empress Dowager Guo
Beheaded in Episode 6

Man family[edit]

Cast Role Description
Cheung Kwok Keung Man Gim Fung
Father of Man Po Yin
Paralysed in Episode 30
Married to Yuen Chui Wan in Episode 33
Yvonne Lam Suen Ka Bik
Man Po Yin's mother
Cousin of Ma Yuen Zi
Executed in Episode 21
Accused for using dark magic that caused Concubine Lai's miscarriage
Selena Li Man Po Yin
Concubine to Lee Yi
Daughter of Man Gim Fung and Suen Ka Bik
Died in Episode 31 (Killed by Concubine Lai)

Ko family[edit]

Cast Role Description
Kwok Fung Ko Yiu On
Palace Chess Teacher
Hin Yeung's father
Died in Episode 25 (Poisoned by Head of Army)
Kevin Cheng Ko Hin Yeung
Palace Chess Teacher→Palace General
Marries Sam Ho in Episode 25
Assumed to have amnesia due to incident in Episode 31
Loses his memory in Episode 33

Imperial household bureau[edit]

Cast Role Description
Ching Hor Wai Choi Jong Ping
Head of Palace Proceedings
Retired and stripped of her status and possessions in Episode 19
Assumed dead due to hepatitis.
Michelle Yim Chung Suet Ha
Head of Embroidery Proceedings→Head of Palace Proceedings (Episode 22)
Marries Bo Kat Cheung on his deathbed
Susanna Kwan Yuen Chui Wan
Assistant Head of Jewellery→Head of Jewellery Proceedings (Episode 1)→Head of Furnishings (Episode 14)→ Head of Furnishings & Embroidery Proceedings(Episode 22)
Married to Man Gim Fung in Episode 33 and has a long lost son with Man Gim Fung
Kara Hui Tam Yim Sheung
Head of Food & Beverages Proceedings
Niece of Choi Jong Ping
(Semi-Villain up to Episode 19)
Rosanne Lui Wu So Yan
Head of Furnishings Proceedings (died in Episode 13, committed suicide)
Tried to poison Yuen Chui Wan.
Yoyo Chen Chin Fei Yin
Palace Maid
Kam Ling's personal maid
Betrayed Concubine Lai to reveal her guilt to Lee Yi (Episode 33)

Servants in the palace[edit]

Cast Role Description
Lee Kwok Lun Ma Yuen Zi
Head Eunuch
Commander Imperial household troops (Villain)
Cousin of Suen Ka Bik
Godfather of Concubine Yin
Died in Episode 33 (stabbed by Concubine Lai)
(Main Villain)
Ram Chiang Bo Kat Cheung
Head Servant in the Palace
Bo Siu Chun's Adopted Father
Died in Episode 22 (Killed by Concubine Lai)
Married to Chung Suet Ha on deathbed
Vin Choi Bo Siu Shun
Servant in the Palace
The Mistakened son of Man Gim Fung and Yuen Choi Wan (Episode 24), later god son
Bo Kat Cheung's adopted son
Chung Suet Ha's god son
Lau Dan Li Tak Yu
Prime Minister and Lee Chin's friend
Died of illness in Episode 27
Leo Tsang Physician Si
The Royal Surgeon
Bribed by Concubine Lai to assist killing Suen Ka Pik, Man Po Yin and Empress Dowager Cheng
Died in Episode 32 (Killed on Ma Yuen Zi's command)


Cast Role Description
Jason Chan Prince Duoji Son of the Tibetan King


Lau Sam-Ho - Sam-Ho is a kind-hearted maid who took her mother and father's teachings to heart. Her parents taught her to speak kind words, do good deeds, and bear a kind heart. She always cares for and helps everyone in the palace to the best of her abilities. She is very close with Yiu Kam-Ling, with whom she has sworn sisterhood. She is the love interest of both Ko Hin-Yeung and Emperor Lee Yi. Sam-ho started her service in the Department of Embroidery, but was eventually promoted to be the Head of Jewellery Proceedings. She was later chosen as Lee Yi's concubines because she was pregnant with Hin-Yeung's child. Lee Yi made her his concubine to save her.

Yiu Kam-Ling - Kam-Ling initially starts out as a maid in the Department of Jewellery. During her time in the department, she suffers and perpetrates back-stabbing and torture. Her suffering leads her to believe that she has to plot, manipulate, and formulate schemes in order to survive and avoid further suffering in the palace. She eventually marries Emperor Lee Yi and becomes his concubine. She continuously schemes to destroy her competitors. She eventually became delusional and insane after Emperor Lee Yi punished her with lifelong confinement to her palace pavilion for all her evil deeds.

Yuen Chui-Wan - In the beginning, Chui-Wan serves as Deputy Leader of Jewellery Proceedings. Her dedication and hard work are eventually recognized, and she is promoted to serve as Head of the same department. Chui-Wan is a self spoken, wise woman who never accuses anyone without proof. Throughout the series, she is made Head of Furnishing Proceedings and Head of Embroidery Proceedings. She is in a feud with Suet-Ha (Michelle Yim) because she accuses her of tampering with her food by adding an ingredient to which she was allergic. As a result of her sickness, she was not permitted to leave the palace with her lover, General Man. It is later revealed that she has a son with General Man. By series end, it's implied that Bo Gut-chong took their son out of the palace and left him in the care of an outside healer.

Chung Suet-Ha - Suet-Ha starts out as Head of Embroidery Proceedings. She mistakes Chiu-wan for sabotaging her many years ago, causing her permit to leave the palace to be revoked. As a result, she was unable to see her dying mother. This starts a feud between the two friends who have once sworn sisterhood. She always opposes Chui-Wan. They eventually reconcile their differences. She is later promoted to be the Head of Palace Proceedings. When she thinks that Chui-Wan killed her to be husband purposely, she begins to try to make Chui-Wan suffer and wants to get revenge for her to-be husband. They reconciled by the end of the series and remained friends.

Ko Hin-Yeung - The Emperor's personal guard. This role is assigned to him because of his loyalty to the emperor. He is skilled in martial arts, and even taught Lee Yi several moves that save his life. He also saves Emperor Lee Yi twice from the assassins sent by the previous emperor and the grand empress. He is the lover of Sam-ho and later marries her. They have a daughter in the last episode.

Historical basis[edit]

Parts of the plot of the drama series are inspired or based on historical facts or beliefs.

Dramatized historical figures[edit]

Empress Dowager Guo (Susan Tse) - Empress Dowager and Grand Empress Dowager Guo is based on a historical figure of the same name, who was recorded in history as being the rival of Empress Dowager Zheng.

Empress Dowager Zheng (Mary Hon) - based on a historical figure of the same name, initially a maid to the Imperial Household who caught the Emperor's attentions and was elevated to the status of an imperial concubine.

Emperor Xuānzong of Tang (Moses Chan) - based on Emperor Xuānzong who succeeded Empress Dowager Guo's grandson Emperor Wuzong of Tang as Emperor of the Tang.

Emperor Wuzong of Tang (Edwin Siu) - based on the Emperor Wuzong who succeeded his brother Emperor Wenzong of Tang as Emperor of the Tang.

Emperor Muzong of Tang (Eric Li (actor)) - based on the Emperor that preceded by Emperor Xianzong of Tang and succeeded by his son Emperor Jingzong of Tang. Neither of the latter two are featured in the series.

Li Jun, Prince of Qi 杞王李峻 (Jeffrey Wong) - based on the eldest son of Emperor Wuzong, of whom nothing is known, in the series he assisted Emperor Xuānzong in defeating the character of Ma Yuan Zhi in return for the throne which he rejected in the end.

Consort Wang 王貴妃 (Tracy Ip) - based on the favourite concubine of Emperor Wuzong, Consort Wang (Wuzong) 王賢妃. Consort Wang was never titled guifei in reality. During her lifetime she held the position of a cairen which was a lower rank of imperial concubine than a guifei. She was posthumously honoured as yinfei by Emperor Xuãnzong, who was in reality moved by Consort Wang's devotion to her husband.

Ma Yuan Zhi (Lee Kwok Lun) - loosely based on a trusted and powerful eunuch of the same name under the rule of Emperor Xuãzong. The character portrayed by Lee Kwok Lun is a combination of two powerful figures, the eunuch Ma Yuan Zhi and military statesman Ma Zhi, who were known dually as the "Two Mas".

Chancellor Li Deyu (Lau Dan) - based on Chancellor Li Deyu.


  • Empress Dowager or Grand Empress Dowager Guo was resented by Concubine Dowager (later Empress Dowager) Zheng. The two women were rivals for a long period of time, especially after the ascension of the latter's son Emperor Xuãnxong. The Grand Empress Dowager was disrespected by Empress Dowager Zheng and Lee Yi to such an extent that she really attempted suicide by throwing herself of the tower.
  • Grand Empress Dowager Guo tried to commit suicide as she failed to demand respect from Emperor Xuānzong and Empress Dowager Zheng. She tried to jump from the Qinzheng Tower, but failed. That night, she died, though the cause of her death remains a mystery. It is suspected that Emperor Xuãnzong hashed her put to death.
  • Consort Wang was in the rank of cairen instead of guifei during her lifetime as her family was neither prominent nor noble. It was only after her death that she was elevated to the rank of yinfei. It is traditionally held that Consort Wang and her husband were truly in love with each other.
  • Instead of being sentenced to death by Empress Dowager Guo, in history she committed suicide because she was saddened by the death of her spouse. This moved even the jealous concubines who resented the devotion she had from her husband, and even Emperor Xuãnzong himself.
  • Li Yi is believed to have sought refuge at a Taoist monastery at some point, though this is not a confirmed historical fact.
  • Li Yi was thought to have had low intelligence and confidence before he ascended to the throne. However, after his ascension he revealed extraordinary abilities as a political leader.
  • Emperor Wuzong did suffer during the latter part of his reign in health due to alchemists' pills. In the series, he was given a pill by the fictional huifei who thought it would be of benefit to him. Many of the Tang Emperors actually believed in the purported health benefits of these pills, though modern scientific evidence reveals that these pills were toxic.
  • Emperor Wuzong was killed by ambitious powerful eunuchs that held immense power at the latter part of the Tang Dynasty, which was already nearing its end during the time setting of the series. The eunuchs in the series killed him to place Li Yi on the throne because they thought that he would be easy to control, as the Prince of Guang put on a facade.
  • The Imperial Household Bureau was one of the six Imperial Bureaus of the Tang Dynasty.
  • The series is set during the latter years of the Tang Dynasty, around about half a century before the Tang Dynasty's end. The Tang Empire at this time was controlled by powerful, ambitious, corrupt eunuchs, and the Tang Emperors gradually lost more and more power to them. The Tang Dynasty reached its peak in culture and power during the reign of Emperor Xuānzong's ancestor Emperor Xuanzong's reign, before it was sent into decline by the An Shi Rebellion during Xuanzong's reign. Emperor Xuānzong was an Emperor during the decline of the Tang Empire, and he was the last strong ruler of the Tang Dynasty.
  • In the television drama, Taoism appears as the initially as the religion and accepted philosophy of the imperial family and imperial government. However, after Li Yi comes to the throne, Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy is discussed by the characters in their dialogue, and Buddhist worship took the place of Taoist worship. Emperor Xuānzong revived Buddhist worship that was unsupported by the few Emperors before him. Buddhism flourished under the Tang Empire, and it was during this golden age in Chinese history that the system of adapting to the three schools of Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Buddhism was solidified for the first time. This ideology of adapting to the philosophies of all three would last for millennia. Confucianism was promoted primarily for its appreciation of various virtues, including collectivist ideals of family units and interdependence between the people and units of the state. Taoism was promoted for its appreciation of nature, balance and moderation in all things, as opposed to the Legalist ideals of Ancient, feudal China. Buddhism was imported as an Indian faith and remains hugely popular from the Tang Dynasty.
  • In history Empress Dowager Zheng outlived Li Yi and saw her grandson Emperor Yizong of Tang ascend the throne as a grand empress dowager. As the eldest son of Li Yi, in fact, Yizong was born 14 years before Li Yi's ascension But all through the series, Li Yi is seen as childless. In the series, Emoress Dowager Zheng is portrayed more sympathetically in a tilt towards the rights of the working class than the picture of a resentful and socially ambitious empress dowager drawn by historians. Historians often view Empress Dowager Guo with sympathy in contrast, as a woman who was born into nobility.

Cultural inaccuracies[edit]

  • During the Tang Dynasty, there were actually a limited number of chairs. Within the drama, chairs are excessively common.
  • The Tang palace had six imperial bureaus. In the drama, food and clothing is prepared under the Imperial Household Bureau, while in fact they were prepared within their own, individual bureaus.
  • Members of the imperial harem would not have referred to each other as "sisters" during the Tang dynasty and earlier, a common misconception.
  • Parents of girls working as servants in the palace were not allowed to vocally recognise their daughters.
  • The Japanese chess player is dressed in Japanese clothing from a later period in Japanese history.At the time, early kimonos inspired by hanfu were already popular amongst Japanese women (Japanese culture was very different from China's before the Japanese began importing Chinese cultural elements and forms of government around 500CE) though it wasn't quite as common amongst Japanese men.



Since the successful Korean blockbuster drama, Jewel in the Palace, reached a final peak 50 rating points, and topped the chart in Hong Kong in 2005, Hong Kong had been waiting for another breathtaking production to the likes of Jewel in the Palace. After In 2004, the highly successful TVB drama series War and Beauty gripped a huge audience and gained excellent ratings. Producer Mui Siu Ching, who is highly familiar to this type of Darker-plot, with her experiences in dramas such as Forensic Heroes and The Brink of Law, moved straight to commission this drama production which genre to costume series revolving around the conflicts and struggle within the inner palace.[3] In late 2008, The Sale Presentation finally confirmed with an important casts.[4] The more Casting then introduced at the costume fitting on February 17, 2009.[5] The series was originally planned to start filming in December 2008, but the executives felt it had potential and so it became a grand production; filming was pushed to February 2009 with the script modified from the original 25 episodes to become 33, and new costumes were especially designed for the series.[6]

The original working title known as Palace Schemes linked the story to scheming hearts of Ladies in the Royal palace.[7] Although its Chinese title kept on the same meaning, Official English title changed to Beyond the realm of conscience,to prolific more catchy and lure more viewer.[8] Furthermore, when initial script was first submitted, it was temporarily called Lau Sam Ho, represent Charmaine Sheh's role. On the way to production after the sale presentation successfully release, The Script writer managed to change, possible for the current drama in contrast with its illustration. It led over 50% of storyline from the teaser to change as almost of scene in sale presentation not able to exist despite the main plot still provided. It yielded the some development in casting, costume, setting, character and screenplay as well.


The drama has a strong cast, led by Charmaine Sheh as the protagonist. Two previous TVB award winning actors, Moses Chan and Kevin Cheng are also featured. TVB Best Supporting Actress 2008 winner Tavia Yeung portrays her first villain role, which is also the most challenging role she has taken on for the past 10 years.[9] Other experienced actresses starring alongside her as villains are Susanna Kwan (villain in Heart of Greed), Michelle Yim (villain in Moonlight Resonance) Susan Tse (villain in Rosy Business)and .[10] Selena Li is cast as Mun Bou Yin to motivate the young audiences.[11] Unfortunately, two well-known actresses, Christine Ng[12] and Fala Chen, although cast at the Sale Presentation on October 15, 2008, were not involved in the drama. Rosanne Lui replaced Christine Ng and was cast as the Head of Furnishing, lead Kara Hui to recast the role which Christine Ng originally assigned. Fala Chen did not participate in the series with reasons unknown. Then Elaine Yiu added to the cast, replaced her on December 12, 2009. Her role was finally given to Yoyo Chen as a villain palace maid.

Location and costume[edit]

The series is set in Tang Dynasty's Royal palace, was only filmed in Hong Kong unlike 2003's costume drama War and Beauty. The outdoor scenes were filmed in local parks and in the ancient street at TKO TVB City as the Imperial Palace.[13] The hot weather and the presence of mosquitoes in the countryside during filming left two main casts, Charmaine and Kevin in the TVB van with Charmaine staying under an umbrella to avoid the sun’s heat.[14] Though high rise buildings surround the parks reflecting off the water, but was removed post production.

Charmaine have 17 image and 30 set of custom-made costumes.[15] The wigs for the male characters were not taken lightly as well. Kevin Cheng's wig with middle parting was made by the same master who crafted Tony Leung's wig in Red Cliff while Moses Chan's emperor wig was specially created with braided pattern.[16] The wigs were so heavy for the female cast need to keep some painkillers handy during the costume fitting.[17] As The height of the wig represent social status, Susan Tse who played The Grand Empress had the tallest wig as It took 3 hour daily for makeup and setting hairstyle.[18] As The total of costume is about 250 set, The 4 departments have different flower embroidery on costumes while Embroidery department use Sared Lily and Pink color and Jewelry department uses Peony and blue color while Food and Beverage department uses Chrysanthemums and orange color as well as Upholstery department uses Lotus and green color.[19] Susan and Moses emperor costumes alone took 2 month for the hand embroidery. The accessories used in the series mostly a neck band and the big head ornaments. Actress, Tavia Yeung pointed out that the female cast in the series suffer from neck and shoulder pains, "The head ornaments are too heavy. So, by the time we finish filming the series, everyone will probably suffer from cervical vertebrae inflammation (swelling)! As soon as the head ornament goes on, our necks already have problems. Right now, my neck and shoulders are swollen. I have to apply ointment on them every night."[20]


The series is in a miniseries format popular throughout East Asia. It revolves around palace scheming, which has been featured in numerous TVB television series before Beyond the Realm of Conscience and also beyond Hong Kong, China and Taiwan in dramas from Korea and other East Asian countries These series were made very popular in Hong Kong possibly by War and Beauty, produced by TVB in 2004 also as an anniversary grand production. However, Beyond the Realm of Conscience is rather a series that carries the message that good (Lau Sam Ho, Charmaine Sheh) always beats evil (Yiu Kam Ling, Tavia Yeung. War and Beauty depicts the lives of four imperial concubines who all scheme to rise.

Beyond the Realm of Conscience tells the story of the life of a protagonist who struggles to survive in the palace, but rises in status through a kind heart. Beyond the Realm of Conscience, however, is far shorter in length. The television series is a costume drama, using elaborate costumes and sets to attract audiences. However, Beyond the Realm of Conscience also uses historical figures an events in its plot, such as Grand Empress Dowager Guo.


Initial audience anticipation of the series before airing was mostly positive, reported as being a highly anticipated drama following its sales presentation.[21] Some audience also looked forward to Tavia Yeung being cast as a villain for the first time.[22] Some viewers also criticised Charmaine Sheh's character of "Lau Sam Ho" as being "too perfect" and therefore unrealistic.

Tavia Yeung's acting skills initially received criticism from viewers saying that she was not "evil" enough for her role as "Yiu Gam Ling", however by the end of the series she won praise for her facial acting, which showed off her villainy. Her role as "Yiu Gam Ling" was a favorite to win the best actress award in the 2009 TVB Anniversary Awards, however rather than Best Actress she won the awards for Best Performance and My Favorite Female Character.[23] Netizens also strongly praised her character, which replaced the character of the Empress Dowager, portrayed by Susan Tse, as the lead villain in the series from episode 17.[24] Charmaine also received praise for her acting, in particular in the final episode.[25] The series also received acclaim from critics for its elaborate costumes and plot.[26]

The comparison of the series to TVB's 2004 War and Beauty received much retaliation from fans. The plotting and scheming of the characters in Beyond the Realm of Conscience was repeatedly inferior to that of War and Beauty. Others argued that the series was superior in portraying the vulnerability of those less powerful. Charmaine and Moses Chan, who starred in both series, defended the popularity of both series.

Ratings wise the drama performed extremely well from the start, the first episode received an index rating of 34 points (2.14 million viewers) and peaking at 36 points (2.29 million viewers), breaking TVB’s 2003 record for a first episode.[27] The second week of the series was better received, with a peak of 41 points for episode 6.[28] It maintained a steady progress in subsequent weeks. Charmaine Sheh also hoped that Beyond the Realm of Conscience, would break Jewel in the Palace’s record. For the final episode the series managed to receive 50 points for the scene in which the characters of Sam Ho and Ko Hin Yeung were reunited. The announcement that the drama attracted 1% more viewers than Jewel in the Palace, with 98% of viewers against the formers's 97%, pleased both drama's producer and cast,[29] and meant that Beyond the Realm of Conscience finished as TVB's most viewed series for 2009.[30]


42nd TVB Anniversary Awards (2009)[edit]

Won: My Favourite Female Character (Tavia Yeung) Won: Best Performance of the Year (Tavia Yeung)

  • Nominated - Best Drama Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Actor (Moses Chan) Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Actress (Charmaine Sheh) Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Actress (Tavia Yeung) Top 5
  • Nominated - My Favourite Male Character (Kevin Cheng) Top 5
  • Nominated - My Favourite Female Character (Charmaine Sheh) Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actor (Lee Kwok Lun) Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actor (Ram Chiang)
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actress (Susanna Kwan) Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Yim) Top 5
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actress (Mary Hon)
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actress (Selena Li)

Asian Television Awards (2010)[edit]

Won: Best Drama Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Susan Tse)

42nd Ming Pao Anniversary Awards 2010[edit]

  • Nominated - Outstanding Actress in Television (Charmaine Sheh) Top 5
  • Nominated - Outstanding Actress in Television (Susanna Kwan) Top 5
  • Nominated - Outstanding Actress in Television (Tavia Yeung) Top 5

Viewership ratings[edit]

Week Episodes Average Points Peaking Points References
October 19–23, 2009
1 — 5
October 26–30, 2009
6 — 10
November 2–6, 2009
11 — 15
November 9–13, 2009
16 — 20
November 16–20, 2009
21 — 24
November 23–27, 2009
25 — 29
November 28, 2009
30 — 31
November 29, 2009
32 — 33

International broadcast[edit]


  1. ^ Singtao Canada. "Singtao Canada." 《宮心計》撼贏《富貴門》 首播高開36點 6年最勁. Retrieved on 2009-10-30.
  2. ^ "[permanent dead link]." 無線42週年台慶亮燈儀式 群星閃耀站位藏玄機/圖. Retrieved on 2009-10-30.
  3. ^ Tavia Yeung, Charmaine Sheh's Palace Maids - A Series of Unfortunate Events
  4. ^ TVB Sales Presentation Clips 2009 - Palace Scheme & Heaven and Earth-Palace Scheme
  5. ^ Costume Fitting: Beyond the Realm of Conscience 宮心計
  6. ^ Beyond the realm of conscience” promo clips
  7. ^ Palace Scheme
  8. ^ Beyond The Realm Of Conscience[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Tavia was determined to portray her villain role well
  10. ^ Beyond the Realm of Conscience (宮心計)
  11. ^ Li as Mun Bou Yin in Beyond The Realm Of Conscience
  12. ^ Beyond the realm of conscience
  13. ^ Tavia Yeung’s voicing out of injustice led to mistreatment
  14. ^ Rumored couple Charmaine Sheh Si Man and Kevin Cheng Ka Wing
  15. ^ Charmaine have 17 image and 30 set of custom-made costumes
  16. ^ Charmaine Sheh Tavia Yeung – The Battle of Good Against Evil
  17. ^ Beyond the Realm of Conscience costume fitting news clips
  18. ^ Mag scans of [Beyond the Realm of Conscience
  19. ^ MAG of Beyond the Realm Of Conscience
  20. ^ April 24, 2009] "Beyond the Realm Of Conscience" Filming Update
  21. ^ 不知道看甚麼?豆丸一下 Archived October 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Beyond The Realm Of Conscience Archived December 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Tavia Yeung is criticized: "Give me time to become evil!"[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Netizens praise Concubine Lai (Tavia Yeung)'s evilness in Episode 17 of <Beyond>,
  25. ^ <Beyond> has become TVB's highest viewing series in 2009 Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ Ratings for Beyond The Realm of Conscience hits the roof
  27. ^[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ Beyond the Realm of Conscience peaked at 41 points
  29. ^ Beyond The Realm Of Conscience" TVB's highest viewing series in 2009 Read more: "Beyond The Realm Of Conscience" TVB's highest viewing series in 2009 - AsianTvSoap
  30. ^ Beyond the Realm of Conscience is TVB's best series
  31. ^ Week 1 Ratings
  32. ^ Week 2 Ratings
  33. ^ Week 3 Ratings
  34. ^ Week 4 Ratings
  35. ^ Week 5 Ratings
  36. ^ Week 6 Ratings
  37. ^ Week 6 Saturday Ratings
  38. ^ Week 6 Finale Ratings
  39. ^ "เรื่องย่อ ศึกบุปผาวังมังกร Beyond the Realm of Conscience" (in Thai). Retrieved 17 October 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • Beyond the Realm of Conscience - Official Website (Chinese)
  • K for TVB Beyond the Realm of Conscience - Episode Summaries & Screencaptures