|Also known as||Legend of Chu Qiao|
|Mandarin||Tègōng Huángfēi Chǔ Qiáo Zhuàn|
|Genre||Historical fiction |
|Based on||11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei by Xiao Xiang Dong Er|
|Written by||Jia Wen|
|Directed by||Wu Jinyuan|
|Country of origin||China|
|No. of episodes||58 (Uncut), 67 (TV version)|
|Executive producer(s)||Liu Yingxuan|
|Producer(s)||Ma Zhongjun |
|Production location(s)||Hengdian World Studios, Inner Mongolia|
|Running time||45 mins|
|Production company(s)||Ciwen Entertainment |
|Original network||Hunan TV|
|Original release||5 June –|
1 August 2017
Princess Agents (Chinese: 特工皇妃楚乔传) is a 2017 Chinese television series based on the novel 11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei (11处特工皇妃) written by Xiao Xiang Dong Er (潇湘冬儿). It stars Zhao Liying, Lin Gengxin, Shawn Dou and Li Qin. The series aired on Hunan TV from 5 June to 1 August 2017.
The story is unfinished and ends on a cliffhanger in the final episode. No sequel has been confirmed. Princess Agents is a commercial success, more than 40 billion views on Chinese streaming sites Youku, Tencent, and iQiyi.
The story takes place during the chaotic times of Northern Wei (386–535), where innocent citizens are often kidnapped and turned into slaves. Slave girl, Chu Qiao (Zhao Liying) is thrown into a forest along with other slaves and becomes the next hunting target for the rich lords. She is saved by the Prince of Northern Yan, Yan Xun (Shawn Dou) and Yuwen Yue (Lin Gengxin). Afterwards, she is brought into the Yuwen Manor and witnesses their bloody power struggle. Seeing this, she swears to take her younger sisters and flee from the situation. However, she catches the attention of Yuwen Yue and undergoes strict training while building a sense of companionship with Yan Xun. Along the way, Chu Qiao also encounters the cheerful Prince Yuan Song (Niu Junfeng), the unruly Prince of Liang, Xiao Ce (Deng Lun), and a spy princess named Xiao Yu (Huang Mengying).
Unfortunately, the schemes of the nobles in Western Wei cause Yan Xun’s family to be slaughtered and branded as traitors. After that incident, Yan Xun becomes ambitious and cruel as he promises to take revenge for the things and the people he lost. He leaves Princess Yuan Chun (Li Qin) on their wedding day, leading to her downfall and her brother Yuan Song's disability. He later starts to doubt Chu Qiao and takes advantage of her loyalty many times, disregarding their close-knitted friendship as well as the sacrifices he will have to make for power. Disappointed with the man she once trusted, Chu Qiao eventually breaks off her ties with Yan Xun and chooses to fight with Yuwen Yue to destroy Yan Xun’s plans of vengeance.
|Zhao Liying||Chu Qiao / Jing Xiaoliu / Xing'er||A young girl who is intelligent, courageous and resilient. After being forced to watch helplessly as her loved ones died, she strives on a path of change to destroy the injustice around her. Her identity was later revealed to be the daughter of Luo He, the master of Feng Yun order. After she nearly drowned, she lost her memory and was taken care of by her adoptive family, the Jing family; thereafter becoming a slave at Yuwen Manor together with her adopted-siblings. Yuwen Yue later trains her to become a spy and they eventually develop feelings for each other. However, due to some misunderstandings, she ends up following Yan Xun on his path to seek revenge. She is the only one who is willing to believe in the Xiuli Army who once caused the downfall of two of Northern Yan's biggest cities.|
|Lin Gengxin||Yuwen Yue||Fourth young master of the Yuwen Manor, and the heir of the Eyes of God. A cold man with few words, he is intelligent, observant and is skilled in martial arts. From a high and mighty noble who only cared about being obedient to his grandfather and the strict family rules, he was slowly influenced by Chu Qiao to become a just and empathetic ruler. He also comes to play an instrumental role in establishing a new world. He loves Chu Qiao but could not pursue her openly due to the difference in their status, but has always been there for her in times of need.|
|Shawn Dou||Yan Xun||Prince of Northern Yan. He is prudent and conscious of his actions despite his cheerful and carefree facade, due to his identity as a "captive prince". He likes Chu Qiao and formed an earnest friendship with her. They learned to rely on each other during their lowest days, making their relationship complicated as Yan Xun becomes a vengeful person. After having witnessed the destruction of his entire clan by the hands of Imperial Wei, he made it his life's mission to avenge his family. He later part ways with Chu Qiao due to differing beliefs.|
|Li Qin||Yuan Chun||Princess of Western Wei. She is a kind, simple, and spoiled girl who likes Yan Xun. However, circumstances occur that causes her to turn into someone with nothing but bitterness and she turns almost unrecognizable into someone cold, vengeful and cunning.|
|Kwok Fung||Yuwen Zhuo||Master of the 1st household, Yuwen Yue's grandfather. He is crippled due to a sacrifice he made for his loved one when he was young.|
|Chin Shih-chieh||Yuwen Xi||Master of the 3rd household, Yuwen Huai's grandfather. A creepy old man who preys on young female slaves.|
|Wang Dong||Yuwen Hao||Yuwen Zhuo's son.|
|Wang Yanlin||Yuwen Huai||Young master of the 3rd household. He is a sinister and manipulative man who is Yuwen Yue's biggest rival in power struggle. He was killed by Chu Qiao after saving the Xiuli Army.|
|Xing Zhaolin||Yue Qi||Yuwen Yue's trusted right-hand man; a loyal and capable warrior who fights alongside him.|
|Sun Yi||Yue Jiu||Yuwen Yue's guard.|
|Yuan Quan||Yue Shiwu||Yuwen Yue's guard.|
|Li Ang||Zhan Mou||Yuwen Zhuo's trusted confidante.|
|Fu Jia||Zhu Shun||Housekeeper of Yuwen household. He is under the control of Yuwen Huai and helps him execute his schemes.|
|Rain Lau||Madame Song||Head steward of Yuwen household. She is cruel and abusive toward Chu Qiao and the slaves.|
|Cao Xiyue||Jin Zhu||A maid at Qing Shan Court. She is actually a spy from Hong Shan Court and works for Yuwen Huai. She often picks on Chu Qiao due to her jealousy toward Chu Qiao and Yuwen Yue's relationship.|
|Wang Yu||Jin Si||A maid at Qing Shan Court; Jin Zhu's sidekick.|
|Li Chunyuan||Ah Luo||A maid at Qing Shan Court, who is on good terms with Chu Qiao.|
|Liu Yuqi||Ying Tao'er||An assassin sent by Yuwen Huai to kill Yuwen Yue.|
|Jiang Yiyi||Curly Hair||A maid of Yuwen Manor who was killed on the hunting ground.|
|Tian Xiaojie||Emperor of Wei||King of Wei. His distrust and suspicious nature caused him to destroy Yan Xun's family and kingdom.|
|Sun Ning||Royal Consort Wei (Ning'er)||Yuan Song and Yuan Chun's mother. She formed a friendship with Yuwen Zhuo, and often aids Yuwen Yue and Yan Xun.|
|Jin Kaijie||Yuan Qi (Prince Mu)||Third prince of Wei.|
|Jin Jia||Yuan Che (Prince Xiang)||Seventh prince of Wei. He is raised by Royal Consort Shu and is good friends with Yuwen Yue. He is also known for his war experience.|
|Niu Junfeng||Yuan Song (Prince Yu)||Thirteenth prince of Wei. He is bright, cheerful and kind-hearted. He likes Chu Qiao, despite all odds and circumstances are thrown at him.|
|Huang Haige||Yuan Yang||Fourteenth prince of Wei. Son of Consort Zhao. He was used as a political tool by Yuan Chun.|
|Ying Lingjie||Yuan Hao||Fifteenth prince of Wei. Son of Lan Shuyi.|
|Nan Sheng||Lan Shuyi||A lady sent by Yuwen Huai to stay by the Emperor's side as a spy. She knows Chu Qiao's true identity and was entrusted by Luo He to take care of Chu Qiao.|
|Chen Yuanyuan||Jin Xin||Royal consort.|
|Zheng Shengli||Wei Guang||Head of Wei Pavilion, Royal Consort Wei's brother.|
|Jurai||Wei Shuyou||Young master of Wei family, Wei Guang's son.|
|Chen Sihan||Wei Shuye||Young master of Wei family, Wei Shuyou's cousin. He treats Yan Xun as his true friend, and has a one-sided love for Princess Yuan Chun.|
|Shi Jiantao||Zhao Gui||Head of Zhao Pavilion.|
|Jin Han||Zhao Xifeng||Young master of Zhao family, Zhao Gui's son. He is two-faced and manipulative.|
|Liu Yuan||Zhao Dongting||Young master of Zhao family, Zhao Xifeng's brother.|
|Zhang Rui||Jing Han||A cruel lord.|
|Lu Yongjun||Eunuch Wang||Emperor's personal eunuch.|
|Yang Liu||Cai Wei||Yuan Chun's personal attendant.|
|Li Haohan||Yan Shicheng||Duke of Northern Yan. Yan Xun's father. He was sworn brothers with Emperor of Wei, but the latter's suspicions caused their relationship to turn sour.|
|Li Ying||Bai Sheng||Yan Shicheng's wife, Yan Xun's mother.|
|Wang Yitong||Yan Hongxiao||Yan Xun's sister.|
|Li Ruojia||Zhong Yu||Leader of Northern Yan's pugilistic forces. She is fiercely loyal to Yan Xun and aids him in his rise to power. She is in love with Wu Daoya.|
|Wang Zijie||Feng Mian||Yan Xun's personal attendant.|
|Hu Chunyoung||Cheng Chi||A general serving under Yan Xun. A ruthless man.|
|Wei Tianyang||Sun He||A general serving under Yan Xun, Cheng Chi's assistant.|
|Liu Kenan||Ah Jing||Yan Xun's subordinate.|
|Deng Lun||Xiao Ce||Crown prince of Liang, and later the Emperor. He appears to be unruly but is sharp and intelligent. He is in love with Chu Qiao but keeps a distance for her sake and remains as her best friend who helps her when she's in need.|
|Huang Mengying||Xiao Yu||Elder princess of Liang, who is also the top spy of Liang. She wields a great responsibility of protecting her kingdom and family. She has mixed feelings for Yuwen Yue as her pen pal and archenemy.|
|Cao Xinyue||Qing Wei||A spy assassin of Liang, Xiao Yu's subordinate.|
|Zhao Xuanqi||Yin Xin||A spy assassin of Liang, Xiao Yu's subordinate. He tried to assassinate Chu Qiao in the past.|
|Sun Yi||Tao Yeji||A spy assassin of Liang, Xiao Yu's subordinate. She likes Zhao Xifeng.|
|Lu Qianxi||Lu'e||Xiao Ce's personal attendant.|
Han Shan alliance
|Ding Ziling||Luo He||Chu Qiao's birth mother. Leader of Han Shan alliance, Master of Feng Yun order.|
|Wang Xinghan||Zuo Mancang||A spy from Han Shan alliance. He disguises as the boss of a trading shop, but he actually sells deadly weapons.|
|Wei Lu||Snake Lady||A spy from Han Shan alliance. She is extremely loyal to Chu Qiao and saved her multiple times.|
|Hou Yansong||Dong Fangji||Yan Shicheng's military strategist. A spy from Han Shan alliance.|
|Hu Bing||Wu Daoya||A sage of Northern Yan. A good friend of Luo He, and the former strategist of Han Shan alliance. He later comes to assist Northern Yan army. He is in love with Zhong Yu.|
|Huang Jiaqi||Xing Xing||A girl Chu Qiao met when she was in Xian Yang.|
|He Yucheng||Ouyang Mo / Mo'er||An orphan abandoned by the Ouyang family of Xianyang. He was adopted by Yuwen Yue.|
|Yu Aiqun||Ouyang Qian||Wealthiest merchant of Xianyang.|
|Dong Chunhui||Liang Shaoqing||A silly scholar who befriends Chu Qiao in Xianyang.|
|Yuan Ziyi||Meng Feng||A killer of Past Life Camp who later becomes a follower of Yuwen Yue.|
|Huang Haibing||Zhan Ziyu||A respected figure in the pugilistic world who is linked to the Past Life Camp.|
|Ma Ximi||Xia Chong||A killer of the Past Life Camp who resembles Chu Qiao, and whom was accused of killing Luo He when she in fact saved Chu Qiao. She is imprisoned by Xiao Yu.|
|Zhang Zhiwei||Tian Shoucheng|
Chu Qiao's family
|Liu Bao||Chu Qiao (Jin Xiaolu)'s adoptive father.|
|Jia Shuyi||Chu Qiao (Jin Xiaolu)'s adoptive mother.|
|Peng Doudou||Jin Zhixiang||Chu Qiao's elder sister.|
|Ding Nan||Jin Linxi||Chu Qiao's fifth elder brother.|
|Miao Miao||Jin Xiaoqi||Chu Qiao's seventh younger sister.|
|Zhu Shengyi||Jin Xiaoba||Chu Qiao's eighth younger sister. She has a crush on Yuwen Yue.|
Xiu Li Army
|Ruan Shengwen||He Xiao||Chu Qiao's trusted subordinate. Second commander of the Xiuli army.|
|Huang Yi||Du Pingan / Du Gouzi||An ordinary young guy who joined the Xiuli army, and becomes a loyal follower of Chu Qiao.|
|Liu Yuhang||Ge Qi||Chu Qiao's loyal follower and soldier of the Xiuli army.|
|Kang Ning||Zha Ma||Princess of Bahatu.|
|Zhan Yunfeng||Zha Lu||Prince of Bahatu. Zha Ma's brother.|
|Zhang Haoran||Tu Da||Zha Ma's subordinate.|
The series is directed by Wu Jinyuan (Chinese Paladin, Beauty's Rival in Palace, Scarlet Heart). The script is written by Yang Tao and Chen Lan, and reportedly took two years to be completed. Huang Wen (Tiny Times) acts as the style director, while Li Cai (Painted Skin: The Resurrection) serves as the stunt coordinator. The original soundtrack is composed by Roc Chen who worked on the soundtracks of Kungfu Panda 3.
Principal photography began on May 30, 2016 at Hengdian Studios, and wrapped up on November 21, 2016. Zhao reportedly lost 8 kg for her role. The filming set was opened to fans and the media for viewing in August.
|1.||"Gaze (望)" (Opening theme song)||Liu Chang, Tan Xuan||Tan Xuan||Zhang Bichen & Zhao Liying||01:32|
|2.||"Burning Heart (心之焰)" (Ending theme song)||Lin Qiao, Zhang Ying||Luo Kun||G.E.M.||02:16|
|3.||"Star and Moon (星月)" (Chu Qiao and Yuwen Yue's relationship theme song)||Liu Chang, Cao Yun||Tan Xuan||Yisa Yu and Reno Wang||04:33|
|4.||"Unable to Learn (學不會)" (Chu Qiao's theme song)||Ni Shanshan||Lei Li, Tan Xuan||Xiang Xiang||04:16|
|5.||"Grassland (原上草)" (Chu Qiao's theme song)||Lin Qiao||Chen Xueran||Liu Xijun|
|6.||"The Furthest Heartbeat (最远的心跳)" (Yuwen Yue's theme song)||Liu Chang||Tan Xuan||Elvis Wang|
|7.||"Because of a Person (因为一个人)" (Yan Xun's theme song)||Tan Xuan, Cao Yun||Tan Xuan||Zhang Lei|
|8.||"Breaking a Persistent Thought (断执念)" (Yuan Chun's theme song)||Hua Tianqi||Chen Shimei||He Jie|
|9.||"When We Are Only Left With Me (當我們只剩下我)" (Chu Qiao's relationship theme song)||Duan Sisi||Tan Xuan||Zhang Xianzi|
On June 26, the drama reached a rating of 2.01% with an audience share of 14.88% according to National Average ratings. This broke the record for a drama airing on a non-primetime timeslot on a non-holiday weekday. The series is also the first Chinese drama to break 40 billion views while still airing. It is also popular in overseas countries, Princess Agents received praise for its unique storyline and stellar performance of the actors, as well as the complex twist and picturesque landscapes.
Despite its success and initial positive reviews, the series was later criticized for various issues in regards to its production quality - such as its inappropriate use of photoshop/green screen, excessively bright palette and the inconsistent dubbing of actors. The writing was lambasted for several reasons - such as making the female character another "mary-sue" underneath a strong and independent facade; and including unnecessary story-lines and screen-time for unimportant supporting characters; which makes the plot inconsistent and draggy. Additionally, there was controversy about the extortionate amount of focus on the second male lead's storyline, with some viewers sarcastically calling the drama "Yan Xun's revenge story". The drama was also criticized for ending in a cliffhanger.
|Episode #||Original broadcast date||Average audience share (CSM52)||Average audience share (National Average)||Ranking on its timeslot|
|Ratings||Audience share||Ratings||Audience share|
|1-2||June 5, 2017||0.841||5.526%||0.89%||7.27%||1|
|3-4||June 6, 2017||0.937||6.430%||1.01||8.46%||1|
|5-6||June 7, 2017||1.120||7.424%||1.35||10.27%||1|
|7-8||June 8, 2017||1.273||8.354%||1.40||11.30%||1|
|9-10||June 12, 2017||1.193||8.049%||1.15||9.680%||1|
|11-12||June 13, 2017||1.400||8.139%||1.30||9.62%||1|
|13-14||June 14, 2017||1.480||9.691%||1.36||11.13%||1|
|15-16||June 15, 2017||1.233||7.957%||1.41||10.97%||1|
|17-18||June 19, 2017||1.299||8.387%||1.28||10.09%||1|
|19-20||June 20, 2017||1.246||7.930%||1.34||10.38%||1|
|21-22||June 21, 2017||1.455||9.284%||1.60||12.63%||1|
|23-24||June 22, 2017||1.584||9.793%||1.71||12.80%||1|
|25-26||June 26, 2017||1.705||10.424%||2.01||14.88%||1|
|27-28||June 27, 2017||1.815||10.922%||2.07||15.05%||1|
|29-30||June 28, 2017||1.899||11.547%||2.05||14.78%||1|
|31-32||June 29, 2017||2.125||12.556%||2.28||15.33%||1|
|33-34||July 3, 2017||1.892||11.272%||1.94||13.66%||1|
|35-36||July 4, 2017||1.785||10.560%||2.28||15.65%||1|
|37-38||July 5, 2017||2.005||12.338%||2.24||15.84%||1|
|39-40||July 6, 2017||1.936||11.488%||2.48||15.33%||1|
|41-42||July 10, 2017||1.999||11.854%||2.09||14.52%||1|
|43-44||July 11, 2017||2.236||13.051%||2.36||16.51%||1|
|45-46||July 12, 2017||2.289||13.936%||2.82||18.99%||1|
|47-48||July 13, 2017||2.193||12.993||2.86||19.29%||1|
|49-50||July 17, 2017||2.277||13.312%||2.70||18.19%||1|
|51-52||July 18, 2017||2.232||12.638%||2.71||18.04%||1|
|53-54||July 19, 2017||2.525||14.644%||2.78||19.11%||1|
|55-56||July 20, 2017||2.358||13.743%||2.68||17.83%||1|
|57-58||July 24, 2017||2.137||12.441%||2.52||17.44%||1|
|59-60||July 25, 2017||2.101||12.117%||2.55||17.56%||1|
|61-62||July 26, 2017||2.199||13.585%||2.57||18.11%||1|
|63-64||July 27, 2017||2.16||12.54%||2.86||19.12%||1|
|65||July 30, 2017||0.794||7.250%||0.93||10.26%||1|
|66||July 31, 2017||1.760||17.694%||1.64||19.28%||1|
|67||August 1, 2017||1.841||16.964%||1.88||20.58%||1|
|68||August 2, 2017||0.941||1.964%||0.18||10.58%||1|
Note: A week before the drama finished airing, Hunan changed its airing schedule to Sunday-Tuesday at 23:00 CST to promote their upcoming drama during Princess Agents' timeslot. This greatly impacted ratings due to audience not knowing of the new time slot and the drama airing an hour later than usual.
Awards and nominations
|2017||Weibo TV Impact Festival||Drama of the Year||Princess Agents||Won|||
|The First Annual Asian-American TV & Film Festival Golden Oak Award||Best TV Series||Won|||
|8th Macau International Television Festival||Best Actress||Zhao Liying||Nominated|||
|11th Tencent Video Star Awards||Television Actress of the Year||Won|||
|Most Popular Actor||Lin Gengxin||Won|||
The source novel 11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei (11处特工皇妃) was alleged to be plagiarized from several novels including Novoland: Pearl Eclipse (斛珠夫人) by Xiao Ruqin, Novoland: Eagle Flag (九州缥缈录) by Jiang Nan and Kun Lun (昆仑) by Feng Ge etc. In August 2015, the author Xia Xiang Dong'er admitted the allegations of plagiarism. In her announcement, she promised to provide a "clean" version in which all the plagiarized parts would be deleted so that the adapted TV series would not infringe the copyrights of the original authors. When the TV series was first released in June 2017, the original authors still alleged that the TV series contained plots and lines plagiarized from their works. Xiao Ruqin, the author of Novoland:Pearl Eclipse (斛珠夫人), posted on Weibo that she would be taking legal actions to protect their copyrighted works.
|China||Hunan TV, iQiyi||2017, June 5 - 2017, August 2|
|Malaysia||Astro Quan Jia HD||2017, September 7|
|Singapore||CHK||2017, October 2|
|Thailand||Channel 9 MCOT HD||2017, December 9 - 2018, March 18|
|Mexico||Imagen Televisión||2018, November 11|
|Colombia||Señal Colombia||2020, March 26 -|
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