The Little Nyonya
|The Little Nyonya |
The Little Nyonya theatrical Poster
|Written by||Ang Eng Tee (洪荣狄)|
|Directed by||Chong Liung Man (张龙敏)|
Tay Peck Choo (郑碧珠)
Chia Mien Yang (谢敏洋)
Loo Yin Kam (卢燕金)
|Opening theme||如燕 by Olivia Ong|
|Ending theme||保温 by Bevlyn Khoo |
需要 by JS
|Country of origin||Singapore|
(with partial English, Malay, Japanese and Hokkien)
|No. of episodes||34|
|Producer(s)||Chia Mien Yang (谢敏洋)|
|Running time||approx. 45 minutes|
|Original network||MediaCorp TV Channel 8|
|Original release||25 November 2008 (Singapore) –|
5 January 2009 (Final Chapter on 11 January 2009)
Astro: March 2009 / ntv7: 26 October 2009 (Malaysia)
29 March 2009 (Cambodia)
MIPTV: March 31, 2009 (France)
24 August 2012 (Philippines)
5 September 2009 (Burma)
1 December 2009 (U.S.)
Shanghai: 2009 / China (Satellite) 16 January 2010
TPBS: 20 January 2010 (Thailand)
TVB: 26 April 2010 (Hong Kong)
MediaCorp Suria (Singapore): February 2, 2011 (episodes 1-12), 4 April 2011 (episodes 13-34)
|Preceded by||By My Side|
|Followed by||Reunion Dinner|
|Related shows||New Little Nyonya (2019)|
The Little Nyonya (Chinese: 小娘惹) is a 2008 drama serial on Singapore's free-to-air MediaCorp TV Channel 8. It stars Jeanette Aw, Qi Yuwu, Pierre Png, Joanne Peh and Xiang Yun as the casts of the series. The storyline, which circles around the biographical flashback of an extended Peranakan family in Malacca, is set in the 1930s and spans to over 70 years and several generations of three families.
It debuted on November 25, 2008 and concluded its run on January 5, 2009. It was shown on weekdays at 9pm. The series was partly sponsored by the Media Development Authority of Singapore.
Produced by MediaCorp in commemoration of the channel's 45-year anniversary (45载光芒·8方贺台庆), the series has been acclaimed by viewers and critics, and raked the highest viewership in the country in 14 years. The success of The Little Nyonya has led to the show being broadcast internationally. The series became the first ever Singaporean Chinese drama to be dubbed in Malay and aired on Malay-language channel Suria.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Development and production
- 4 Promotion
- 5 Commercial performance
- 6 Critical response
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 Legacy
- 9 International release history
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The story spans over 70 years, from the 1930s till the present day.
Huang Juxiang is born into a large Peranakan family where her mother is a mistress. She is gentle, beautiful and a fantastic cook. Due to a serious illness when she was 9 years old, Juxiang becomes a deaf-mute. Because of her handicap, she is ostracized by people. Right before the Japanese Occupation in Singapore, she is forced to marry Charlie Zhang, a rich Peranakan, and become his concubine. Juxiang resists the marriage and runs away from home. She then meets Yamamoto Yousuke, a young Japanese photographer. After overcoming many obstacles, they finally get married and Juxiang gives birth to a daughter Yueniang. During the World War, Juxiang is injured and she and her husband die, leaving behind their 8-year-old daughter.
The orphaned Yueniang eventually walks to her grandfather's house on her own. Her grandmother rejoices for her presence. Under the supervision of her grandmother, she learns to cook Peranakan dishes and sewing. She grows up looking exactly like her mother and is exceptionally beautiful. After the war, her maternal relatives who sought refuge in England return home. Yueniang ends up leading the life of her mother – always discriminated against, beaten up, blamed and tortured. She puts up with this mistreatment to protect her grandmother.
Yueniang's beauty incurs jealousy from her cousin, Zhenzhu and attracts the attention of many rich Peranakans. However, she only has eyes for the penniless driver Niuzai, who claims that he has 10 younger brothers and sisters to look after. Chen Xi, (his real name) actually comes from an educated and wealthy family. Yueniang's kindness, purity and persistence move Chen Xi and he falls deeply in love with her. He hides his identity to be with Yueniang. Unfortunately, their relationship is filled with many obstacles and difficulties. Under pressure from his family, Chen Xi is forced to marry Yueniang's cousin, Yuzhu, instead. But Chen Xi was then forced to marry Zhenzhu after Yuzhu had been raped by Robert. Yueniang is then married to a butcher, Liu Yidao. Many things happen after this and it is revealed that the Huangs use misunderstandings and mistakes for granted and resort to off-board measures.
Yueniang is unwilling to accept the fact that she is always manipulated by others and decides to end her life. Her strong personality impresses Liu Yidao and they become sworn siblings instead. Yueniang decides to choose her own path in life. She begins learning how to run a business and, in the process, she is framed and ousted from her business. Despite the odds, she manages save her declining family business. Soon, she marries the lawyer, Paul. She has two miscarriages. So, she adopts Yuzhu's son as her own and names him Zuye. Zuye has two sons and a daughter. The daughter's name is Angela, in the present time. She has her business and sells cosmetics from overseas. However, Yueniang soon succumbs to intestinal cancer, and dies.
|Yan Bingliang 严炳量||Huang Yuan (黄元, also known as towkay or 頭家, meaning "Head of Household"||Semi-Villain
The head of the Huang family, husband of Tua Ji, father of Meiyu, Jincheng and Juxiang. He is forced to follow the family's manipulations, essentially selling out the members of his family in order to stay financially afloat. For example, he is persuaded into disregarding Juxiang as part of their family.
|Lin Meijiao 林梅娇||Lin Guihua (林桂花, also known as Tua Ji or "Big Sister"||Main Villain
The matriarch of the Huang family and mother of Meiyu and Jincheng. She is very protective of her children, and hates Tian Lan's side of the family with a passion, treating them as mere inferiors. She blames them for all the misfortunes happening in the family, but she later confesses her sins and suffers a stroke during her attempt to burn Yueniang.
|Xiang Yun 向云||Wang Tianlan (王天兰)||Mother of Juxiang. She was a maid of the Huang family. Having been raped by Huang Yuan, she was taken in as second mistress of the house to protect the family reputation. However she is only a "second mistress" in name as she is treated like a maid and looked upon with contempt by most of the Huang family. She is accidentally thrown off the second floor of the Huang residence by Jincheng, after Tianlan stumbles upon his affair with Xiujuan when Xiufeng was away. Tian Lan's injuries from this fall prove fatal.|
|Guan Xuemei 管雪梅||Tua Kor (大姑 "Big Auntie"||Huang Yuan's elder sister and mother of Xiulian, Xiufeng and Xiujuan. Being a very demeaning elder in the Huang family, she often abuses Ah Tao. She was later mentioned by Xiufeng to have passed out after learning that her youngest daughter, Xiujuan, went to bed with a man at a hotel in Singapore. She was no longer seen or mentioned after that, although it wasn't mentioned that she died from shock, it was most likely that she did after the incident.|
|Jeanette Aw 欧萱||Huang Juxiang (黄菊香)||Daughter of Huang Yuan and Tian Lan, mother of Yueniang. Juxiang is pretty, smart and hard working. Although born into a wealthy Peranakan family, she is treated with scorn and insult because of her mother's humble origins. She becomes a deaf-mute from the age of nine due to an illness caused by her grandmother's death. As a result, she cannot stand up for herself in many cases. She soon falls in love with a Japanese man named Yamamoto Yousuke. She marries him and gives birth to a daughter and named her Yueniang. She dies of internal injuries soon after her husband is killed by Japanese soldiers leaving behind their eight-year-old daughter, Yueniang.|
|Darren Lim 林明伦||Huang Jincheng (黄金成)||Semi-Villain
Son of Huang Yuan and Guihua. He is Meiyu's older brother and Juxiang's half-brother. He has a crush on Xiujuan but is arranged to marry her sister, Xiufeng instead. A failure as a businessman like his father Yuan, his family's dignity and finances suffer as they are ruthlessly manipulated by the Zhangs. Jincheng is often too obsessed with money and too weak to stand up to the Zhangs, such as when his daughter Yuzhu falls mentally ill after having to put up with Robert's abuse. Jincheng dies of a massive heart attack upon learning that his only son Tianbao (Alexandre) is sentenced to death for murdering Chen Sheng, as well as Charlie and Robert Zhang.
|Apple Hong 洪乙心||Huang Meiyu (黄美玉)||Eldest daughter of the Huang family, younger sister of Jincheng, Juxiang's half-sister and wife of Chen Sheng. Although she loves Chen Sheng very much he does not regard her as his wife for their marriage was an arrangement by his grandmother. As a result, she shows a great sense of hatred towards Juxiang and Yueniang thinking that they were the reasons why her marriage was a total misery. Was later upset upon learning about Chen Sheng's death, she eventually becomes nice to Yueniang after that.|
|Pan Lingling 潘玲玲||Xiufeng (秀凤)||Semi-Villain
Daughter-in-law of Guihua. Married to Jincheng. Elder sister to Xiujuan and the mother of Tianbao, Zhenzhu and Yuzhu. Mistreated Yueniang along with the others by canning her and even leaving her in an old warehouse to die when she is in coma after being rescued from a well. She is later shocked to discover that her husband is having an affair with her sister, Xiujuan. Xiujuan takes revenge on Xiufeng and escapes the Huang household with the Huangs' money. Jincheng and Tian Bao's deaths and her youngest daughter, Yuzhu, becoming mentally unstable has a great impact on her and she learns her lesson.
|Cynthia Koh 许美珍||Xiujuan (秀娟)||Younger sister of Xiufeng and Xiulian. Bullies Juxiang when they were teens along with her sister Xiufeng and her cousin MeiYu. She has an affair with Jincheng. When Huang Tianbao is arrested for the murder of Chen Sheng, she plots a scheme to defraud the Huangs of their money, under the pretext of bribing a high-ranking police officer. The plot succeeds, and the Huangs gives her the proceeds from their sale and mortgage of virtually all of their assets. She runs away to Hong Kong after she receives the money. However, she keeps the money in a bank during her years there, where it earns a tidy sum of interest. It is said in the show that she did not touch a cent.She returns the money to the Huangs after many years.|
|Jeanette Aw 欧萱||Yamamoto Yueniang (山本月娘)||younger version portrayed by Christabelle Tan (陈宇萱), older version portrayed by Xiang Yun (向云) - The protagonist of the series, she is the daughter of Juxiang and Yousuke and looks exactly like her mother. Her parents' deaths make her a strong-willed woman. She is forgiving towards Guihua and her other relatives despite their mistreatment of her and her family. Tao states at the present time that she has been diagnosed with colon cancer but did not want an operation, which implied that the disease is in its terminal stages. It is at this point that she tells Angela that she isn't her biological grandmother.|
|Andie Chen 陈邦鋆||Huang Tianbao (黄天宝)||Villain
The only son of Huang Jincheng and Xiufeng. The eldest sibling among Zhenzhu and Yuzhu. Hoping to be reinstated as deputy general manager of Robert Zhang's business, Tianbao does much of Robert's dirty work, including unsuccessfully attempting to poison Chen Xi and then sends someone to murder Chen Sheng; the latter act which causes him to be disowned by Robert. Yueniang later traces Chen Sheng's murder back to Tianbao and he is imprisoned. However he escapes and kills both Charlie Zhang and Robert Zhang, offscreen it is told that he was arrested for these murders and put to death.
|Eelyn Kok 郭蕙雯||Huang Zhenzhu (黄珍珠)||Villain
She is the eldest daughter of Xiufeng and Jincheng. Sister of Yuzhu, Tianbao and cousin of Yueniang. A secondary antagonist, Zhenzhu is naive and yet manipulative. There were several occasions which revealed that she was not as evil as she seems to be but was greatly influenced by both her aunts, Xiujuan and Meiyu. She witnesses Yuzhu being raped by Robert and tries to save her, but hesitates because of Xiujuan's advice and ultimately does nothing. In Episode 13, it is revealed that although she almost tortures Yueniang, she does not want to see Yueniang die. However, while on her attempt to save Yueniang, her aunt Meiyu stopped her and told Zhenzhu she wanted to drown Yueniang to death. She is a willful girl who fancies Chen Xi and manages to marry him, but their relationship deteriorates, as she often accused Yueniang of trying to steal Chen Xi. Yueniang remains kind to Zhenzhu despite the ill-will. Her marriage with Chen Xi never recovers and Zhenzhu eventually elopes with a Caucasian man.
|Joanne Peh 白薇秀||Huang Yuzhu (黄玉珠)||Second daughter of Xiufeng and Jincheng, younger sister of Zhenzhu and Tianbao. She is kind and polite compared to her siblings and the rest of the family. She is also hardworking and willing to learn new things. She often helps Yueniang, her cousin, and Ah Tao out of situations where they would otherwise get into trouble with the family elders. However, having been raped by Robert Zhang, she is forced to marry him, and thereafter suffers marital abuse including being used as a sex slave for Robert's business deals. This gradually drives her insane and Robert continues to neglect her, until she is rescued by Chen Xi and Yueniang. Nonetheless, after giving birth to her and Robert's son Zuye, she is committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life, with Yueniang becoming a surrogate mother to Zuye (who becomes the father of Angela).|
|Edsel Lim (林泳勳)||Zuye (祖业)||elder portrayed by Zen Chong (章缜翔)) - Son of Yuzhu and Robert Zhang. Due to Yuzhu's mental condition, he is adopted and raised by Yueniang. Grows up to look exactly like his father. He became a top lawyer and has two sons and a daughter, the latter being Angela.|
|Felicia Chin 陈靓瑄||Angela (安淇)||A university student in Canada. Originally considered to be the biological granddaughter of Yueniang, it is revealed at the end that she is the biological granddaughter of Robert Zhang and Yuzhu, as Yueniang adopts her father (Zuye) due to Yuzhu's mental illness. Before the series, in the present-day storyline, she has an unlucky run in romance. She decides to briefly return to Malacca, where she learns about her adoptive grandmother's bitter past.|
|Li Yinzhu (李茵珠)||Madame Chen (陈老太)||Chen Xi's great-grandmother (Chor Chor), Chen Sheng's grandmother (Ma Ma). Likes to eat rempah udang very much. She places great emphasis on women's ability to cook Peranakan dishes and sew beaded shoes. She is one of the few people who trusts Yueniang. Juxiang's grandmother is one of Madame Chen's bosom friends.|
|Chen Xiang (陈翔)||Chen Gong (陈功)||The eldest grandson of Madame Chen, frequently comes into conflict with the Zhang family.|
|Yang Yanqing (杨艳清)||Xiulian (秀莲)||Elder sister of Xiufeng and Xiujuan, married to Chen Gong, and mother of Chen Xi.|
|Pierre Png (方展发)||Chen Sheng (陈盛)||
Married to Meiyu, Juxiang's half-sister, but harbours love for Juxiang. He disrespects Meiyu and is very rude to her after they got married. For instance, he said Meiyu's cooking tastes horrible and there was another incident when he tricked Meiyu to lie on the bed to make love but he went out for a walk. After losing Juxiang, he drowns his sorrows by spending his free time drinking as well as singing and dancing pantun with young women, and even contributing to help Charlie Zhang's disowned brother Tianfu fight against Charlie's family for Zhang's ancestral house. Sheng is later murdered on Huang Tianbao's orders, who believes that it is what Robert Zhang wants.
|Qi Yuwu (戚玉武)||Chen Xi (陈锡)||Son of Chen Gong and Xiulian. So named because on the day of his birth, his family signed a lucrative tin contract. He is the only child in his family. Having been educated in the UK, he is more liberal than his conservative family. Although he wants to marry Yueniang, his family forces him to marry her cousin, Zhenzhu instead. After he thinks that Yueniang perishes in the fire where Robert Zhang sets up, he later marries Libby and has six children. His career is very successful and he contributes a lot of money to charity.|
|Desmond Sim (沈金兴)||Charlie Zhang (查里张)||Main Villain
A Baba who returned from the United Kingdom, his general disapproval of the Peranakan culture earns him scorn from the older generations of high Peranakan society. He has affairs with many women, especially paying money to bed virgin girls, and makes use of his wealth and status to collaborate with the Japanese. He had some influence behind the deaths of Yousuke and Juxiang. He is killed during a scuffle between his son Robert and Huang Tianbao, when a pistol is accidentally fired and hits Charlie in the head.
|Henry Heng (王利秦)||Zhang Tianfu (张添福) -||A Baba pantun master who is the disowned elder brother of Charlie Zhang, and a brother/friend to Chen Sheng. He fought with his brother over the ancestral home that was left behind by their ancestors as Charlie Zhang's family intended to make fortune from demolishing it, thus receiving support from Chen Sheng.|
|Zen Chong (章缜翔)||Robert Zhang (罗伯张)||Main Villain
Son of Charlie Zhang. A cunning one like his father, he looks on the Huang family with contempt and ruthlessly exploits their dire financial situation, having even raped Yuzhu thinking that she was Yueniang. This incident forced him to marry Yuzhu, whom he regularly abuses and even used as a "sex slave" in his business deals. Robert also has a long running rivalry with Chen Xi. Emerging as the chief antagonist as the series progresses, he sets a trap for Chen Xi and Yueniang when they try to free Yuzhu. Robert is killed by Alexandre Huang Tianbao, one of his business partners whom he had taken advantage of.
|Ng Hui (黄慧)||Ah Tao (阿桃)||elder version portrayed by Zhu Xiufeng (朱秀凤)) - An amah for the Huang family. Originally a personal servant of Huang Yuan's elder sister, Tua Kor (who abuses her heavily), she is bought by Tian Lan, and becomes her kitchen helper. She is loyal to Juxiang and Yueniang, and serves Yueniang all the way to the present day. Her right leg is broken by Guihua for being the bride's maid during Juxiang and Yousuke's marriage at the beginning of the show.|
|Dai Xiangyu (戴向宇)||Yamamoto Yousuke (山本洋介)||An ethnic Japanese, he is very interested in Peranakan culture. In order to protect Juxiang from the philandering Charlie Zhang, he marries her. Yousuke is murdered by invading soldiers when Singapore falls to Japanese forces. It is implied that Charlie Zhang has a role in his murder.|
|Yao Wenlong (姚玟隆)||Liu Yidao (劉一刀)||A butcher who has an arranged marriage with Yueniang, but later accepts her as his sworn sister. He and his brotherhood later assist Yueniang with her business. At the advice of Yueniang, Yidao gives up his bullying and gangster-like ways, in favour of a more civilized lifestyle.|
|Pamelyn Chee (齐騛)||Libby (丽贝儿)||A woman who is more liberal than social norms at the time, she eventually marries Chen Xi, and has six children with him.|
|Nat Ho (鹤天赐)||Jonathan Li Xiuwen (李修文)||A native of Hong Kong who grows up in Canada. He falls in love with his university schoolmate, Angela, and follows her from Canada to Malacca. Because of Yueniang's dramatic past, he decides to write a story about her life and will not leave Malacca until it is finished.|
|Li Yuejie (李岳杰)||Da Sha (大傻, lit. "The Big Silly [person]", )||A simpleton who saves Yueniang's life when she is in a coma after being rescued from a well. Pioneer of the bird's nest dish and helps Yueniang with her business.|
|Bobby Tonelli||Paul||A British lawyer who is originally hired by Robert Zhang, but eventually helps the Chens in a lawsuit. He later marries Yueniang. The couple have no children of their own, as Yueniang has 2 miscarriages.|
|Jeszlene Zhou||Jinhua (金花 )||Also an Amah for the Huang family. Often bullies Yueniang along with Zhenzhu. Fell asleep while watching Yueniang, indirectly contributing to Yuzhu being raped.|
|Peer Metze||Smith||A British friend of Robert Zhang. He slept with Yuzhu after Robert Zhang drugged her.|
|Chua Cheng Pou||Hei Gou||Villain
Friend of Liu Yidao who betrayed him and used his butcher knife to kill Chen Sheng.
Development and production
The Little Nyonya took a year of research and four months to film. More than 150 staff members were involved in production of the series and the cast was required to travel frequently from Singapore to Penang, Malacca and Ipoh during filming. The Little Nyonya was notable for having the highest production budget in the history of MediaCorp due to the elaborate period costumes. A pair of beaded shoes traversed over a cost of SGD$1200, while a dining table acquired for the set cost $15000.
Rumours indicate that the role of Xiufeng was initially offered to May Phua, who turned the offer down due to her pregnancy at the time of filming. Huang Biren was said to be a prime candidate for the role of Tian Lan, although the actress' decision not to renew her contract with MediaCorp ultimately resulted in Xiang Yun obtaining the part. It was also rumoured that Zoe Tay had expressed interest in portraying a role in the series, although there were no suitable roles for her. Andrew Seow was first choice to play Robert Zhang but he declined due to scheduling conflicts and the role went to Zzen Zhang.
The series initially received a 30-episode order, although over-runs in filming led the series to be extended to 34 episodes instead. Possibly as a result, two episodes were aired on Mondays from December 15, 2008 till the conclusion of the series.
Promotion for The Little Nyonya lasted throughout the initial broadcast of the series as well after the series ended. Twelve members of the cast participated in "The Little Nyonya Public Event" 小娘惹户外影迷会 at Compass Point on December 27, 2008, which included an autograph session. An estimated 5000 people were present during the event. 100 posters were given out to members of the audience. The unprecedented number of appearances resulted in damage of the flooring at Compass Point. Certain tiles on the floor cracked under the pressure exerted by the crowd.
Due to the overwhelming response of the initial public event, a "Thank You Roadshow" was held at Suntec City on January 31, where fans were allowed to take photographs with the cast and then shake hands. It featured several cast members from the first event as well as Olivia Ong, who recorded the theme song of the series.
Minor roadshows were held at various locations between January and April 2009. On January 17, Jeanette Aw and Xiang Yun promoted bird nest at Tiong Bahru Plaza, while Qi Yuwu and Joanne Peh appeared at Courts Megastore along Tampines Road. Qi and Peh later appeared in character as part of the official launch for Media Fiesta at Marina Square on March 5. On April 26, Aw and Pierre Png made an appearance at the first anniversary of the Singapore Peranakan Museum shortly before leaving to attend the Star Awards.
Chinese New Year Special
In response the tremendous support to the show, the producers filmed a one-hour special, showcasing the stars enjoying a special Nyonya's reunion dinner, "The Little Nyonya's Big Reunion" (Chinese: 小娘惹大团圆), which was aired on day one of the Lunar New Year (26 January 2009) at 7 pm. It was hosted by Dasmond Koh and featured Yan Bingliang, Lin Meijiao, Pan Lingling, Darren Lim, Li Yinzhu, Cynthia Koh, Eelyn Kok, Andie Chen, Joanne Peh, Zzen Zhang, Dai Yangtian, Jeanette Aw, Xiang Yun, Pierre Png, Qi Yuwu, Ng Hui and Yao Wenlong. The cast talked about the filming experiences and about the unexplained fates of characters that were not mentioned in the finale. Unaired blooper clips and behind-the-scenes shots were also shown. The special also had a special re-run on February 8, 2009 (day 14 of the New Year) at 9 pm.
Home media release
The series was released by MediaCorp a 2-volume DVD boxset. The first volume, which contained the first 12 episodes of The Little Nyonya was released to stores on January 6, 2009. The remaining episodes were compiled in the second volume and released two weeks later. The boxset contains no special features, although it is accompanied by a booklet which provides descriptions of the major characters in the show, as well as a family tree.
The Little Nyonya achieved extremely high ratings during its initial run, with an average of 993 000 viewers per episode and peaking at 1.67 million viewers on the final episode. In addition, the series achieved the highest viewership rating in Singapore in 14 years.
Viewership for The Little Nyonya steadily increased throughout its run. Its first episode garnered an estimated 1.098 million viewers, which equates to 20.3% of the country population. On Episode 11, the show rating increased to 23.6%. The 15th and 16th episodes, both broadcast back-to-back, was watched by 24.1% of the country's population. The rating increased by 2.2% a week later, and further increased to 27.8% by the 27th and 28th episodes. The viewership peaked at 33.8% on the final two episodes, also broadcast back-to-back.
The Little Nyonya has been critically acclaimed. However, despite being lauded as a drama that provides an insight into the unique Peranakan culture, the show has received criticism in local media over portrayals and promotion. Issues that were raised early included the castings of Pan Lingling and Cynthia Koh to portray teenage girls albeit being already in their thirties. This issue was counter-argued by being tantamount to ageism, as well as the fact that it was raised only three episodes after the show began airing. The character development of Xiufeng has come under fire due to the character's exhibitions of violence.
Criticism was also leveled at MediaCorp's bias towards Jeanette Aw. Many viewers saw The Little Nyonya as a television series conceived as a launching vehicle for Aw's career in television and to secure an award at the next Star Awards. Several viewers also believe that the producers intentionally wrote Aw's first role as a mute in attempt to conceal her imperfect delivery of Mandarin. In response, producers have lauded Aw's work, saying that she performed in a professional manner. Despite this, Aw's portrayal of Juxiang and Yueniang has been praised by members of the audience.
Mass publicity for The Little Nyonya began two months before the show premiered – it had also received criticism from the public. Within MediaCorp, there are also some misgivings in regards to the over-promotion this show has received. The cast of the long-running drama Love Blossoms have privately lamented that the show, which used to receive tremendous amounts of advertising support from MediaCorp, is being neglected in favour of The Little Nyonya.
As many of the Peranakan characters in the series (such as most of the Huang family, as well as Charlie Zhang and son Robert) are antagonists (Jincheng, Xiufeng and Huangyuan are part-time antagonists), many viewers think that the series will negatively stereotype Peranakans as being ruthless. In response, the show's writer, Ang Eng Tee, said that ruthlessness and petty politicking, which are basic human interactions, appears within any culture, and is not an exclusive trait of the Peranakans.
Due to the usage of dramatic license, the series also contains a significant number of historical inaccuracies, particularly in the first few episodes involving Juxiang's life and Yueniang's childhood. Notable examples include the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1932 (as opposed to 1937) and the first air raid on Singapore (8 December 1941) occurring in broad daylight (which took place at night in reality).
The Little Nyonya: The Final Chapter
The scriptwriter of the series, Ang Eng Tee (also known as Hong Rongdi 洪荣狄), plotted five endings for the series, 4 of which would involve Yueniang and Chen Xi reuniting and living happily ever after.
The ending used in the series was criticised by fans to be too sad and abrupt. The response also prompted Ang to say that had he know that viewers would react as such, he would have Yueniang and Chen Xi reunite, for TV dramas are, in his words, made for viewers. In response to the criticisms, MediaCorp decided to make an alternate ending, which was aired on 11 January 2009 at 9.55pm. The ending, titled "The Little Nyonya: The Final Chapter" (小娘惹之月娘与陈锡重逢篇, literally: "The Little Nyonya: The Chapter of Yueniang and Chen Xi Reuniting), lasted for three minutes. According to producers, the script for the alternate ending was finalised on 8 January, and filming was completed on the following day.
Although it was rumoured that the ending would reunite Yueniang and Chen Xi, and have them living happily ever after, the new ending merely had Yueniang and Chen Xi tell each other why they can't be together. Yueniang and Chen Xi ended up separated, just as it was in the original ending. This drew heavy criticisms from viewers, who told local newspapers that they felt they were being cheated. In response, MediaCorp said that this was not an "alternate ending", as some have suggested. Rather, it is a special presentation to show the station's appreciation to the fans of the series.
Awards and nominations
This drama was seen as an extremely strong contender in the Star Awards 2009, held on 26 April 2009, minting a new record of having 16 nominations in the acting category, surpassing former record holder's Holland V (which got nine) until it was topped by the first season of The Dream Makers in 2014, which have 21. The series became the biggest winner for the ceremony, taking home nine awards including the Drama Serial and the Top Viewership Drama Serial of 2008 (tying with the first season of The Dream Makers later in 2014); it was at the time the series won the most number of awards in a Star Awards ceremony until in the 2016 ceremony, the record was superseded by the second season of The Dream Makers, which received 26 nominations, and won 12.
The spin-off series, The Little Nyonya Reunion Special, and the promotional ad for the encore telecast for the series, were respectively nominated for Star Awards 2010 and Star Awards 2011, with the latter clinching the award.
On total, the entire Little Nyonya franchise won a combined 11 awards from four award ceremonies.
|Star Awards 2009 (Backstage Achievement)
|Young Talent Award
|Best Director 最佳导演||Chia Mien Yang||Won|
|Chong Liung Man||Won|
|Best Screenplay 最佳剧本||Ang Eng Tee||Won|
|Best Set Design 最佳戏剧布景设计||Ho Hock Choon||Won|
|Best Theme Song 最佳主题曲||《如燕》 by Olivia Ong||Won|
|Star Awards 2009 (Main Show)
|Best Supporting Actor 最佳男配角||Dai Xiangyu 戴向宇||Nominated|
|Darren Lim 林明倫||Nominated|
|Yao Wenlong 姚彣隆||Nominated|
|Zen Chong 章证翔||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress
|Best Drama Serial 最佳电视剧||N/A||Won|
|Top 10 Highest Viewership Local Dramas in 2008 Award
2009 Asian Television Awards
|Best Actor||Qi Yuwu||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Joanne Peh||Nominated|
|Best Drama Series||The Little Nyonya||Won|
|Star Awards 2010 (Show 2)
|Best Variety Special
|The Little Nyonya Reunion Special
|Star Awards 2011 (Show 1)
|Best Promotional Video
|Danny Loh Boon Kiat
The Little Nyonya has had notable cultural impact in Singaporean media. It was notably parodied in the variety show, Black Rose. In the episode when the encore started its debut, Chen Hanwei played Liu Yidao (留一刀) and Dennis Chew portrayed Yamamoto Yue Niang (山本月娘). It was also used in the skit segment of Star Search 2010 Grand Finals in which contestants played Liu Yidao, Yuzhu, Ah Tao and Robert Zhang.
In an interview with Lianhe Wanbao, the series' scriptwriter, Ang Eng Tee, said that if the demand exists, he will write a special presentation, or even a sequel to the series. Ideas for a possible sequel or special presentation have already been drafted by Ang, one of which would have Angela receiving a secret wooden box from Ah Tao, before Angela returns to Singapore. The box was owned by Yueniang, and Ah Tao defied her orders to burn the contents before Yueniang died. The box contained details on Yueniang and Chen Xi's relationship, in addition to a letter from Libby, telling Yueniang that Chen Xi and Libby did not get married after all. However, it was noted that production sequels have been much frowned upon by producers, and owing to the high production costs, a sequel seems to be very unlikely, but another drama in 2010 Unriddle is having a sequel to the original in 2012.
The Peranakan Ball
On May 16, 2009, Jeanette Aw and Dai Yangtian starred in a musical called The Peranakan Ball (Chinese: 娘惹之恋). The musical is based on the story of Cinderella and it stars Jeanette Aw as Bee Tin, a Nyonya servant in a wealthy Peranakan household, and unrelated to the television series, even though the concept was clearly derived from the drama.
The Great Servant
While not promoted as such, and the program was produced by a different television station, many Singaporeans who watched the series Da Yahuan (Chinese: 大丫寰 "The Great Servant" in pinyin) believe it copies the main plot of The Little Nyonya. Da Yahuan was produced by Yu Zheng and broadcast by Hunan Broadcasting System in China. On May 6, The Great Servant's writer Li Yaling (李亚玲) claimed that Yu Zheng indeed plagiarized from The Little Nyonya. She claimed that Yu Zheng once told her that as long as plagiarism does not exceed 20% then the courts would have no case. Another writer Zou Yue (邹越) also claimed to have heard the "20% rule" from Yu Zheng.
A remake of The Little Nyonya titled Precious was filmed in 2011 from May to July. It stars Jeanette Aw as its lead actress again and Dai Xiangyu as the male lead. It is a China and Singapore co-production and will debut in China at the end of the year 2011 and in 2014 on Singapore's Channel 8. The Story though is adapted from The Little Nyonya, it'll not be based on the Peranakan Culture but instead about the Chinese medicine with some other changes in the characters. The drama is a Blockbuster drama commemorating China and Mediacorp's 20 years of partnership.
The Little Nonya 2019 remake
In October 2018, it was announced that a Chinese remake of the show was in the works and will be aired on Chinese online video platform, iQiyi in 2019. It is a joint production between iQiyi, Changxin Pictures and Singapore-based G.H.Y Culture & Media and will star Xiang Yun, Xiao Yan, Kou Chia-Jui, Yue Lina, He Yuhong, Darren Chiu, Dai Xiangyu, Jeffrey Xu and Fang Cheng Cheng as the main leads.
Other series references
- The series title was mentioned by Somaline Ang in episode 81 of 118.
- The scene where Yuzhu (Joanne Peh) is eating the bugs in the hut after being driven insane is mentioned by Dennis Chew in episode 122 of 118.
- The store opened by the Hong family in The Journey: Our Homeland is named Little Nyonya/小娘惹. Both English and Chinese names of the store are references to the series' title. Although it maybe coincidental, the first series of The Journey, The Journey: A Voyage, has an antagonist named Charlie Zhang, which has the same name and the same background (educated in Britain) as the main antagonist of The Little Nyonya.
International release history
The drama serial was broadcast overseas, mostly in the Asian region.
|Country of Broadcast||Broadcasting Network||Release Date|
|Malaysia||Astro Shuang Xing, Astro AEC||February 2, 2009|
|Malaysia||NTV7||October 26, 2009|
|Cambodia||PPCTV Drama 9||March 29, 2009|
|France||MIPTV||March 31, 2009|
|Philippines||Associated Broadcasting Company(TV5)||August 24, 2009|
|Myanmar||MRTV||September 5, 2009|
|United States||Tai Seng Entertainment Channel (broadcast on DirecTV)||December 1, 2009|
|Vietnam||Vietnam Television||August 12, 2010|
|China (run across China via satellite)||TBA||January 16, 2010 |
|Thailand||Thai Public Broadcasting Service||January 20, 2010|
|Hong Kong||TVB PayVision||April 26, 2010|
In Indonesia, aired on B Channel starts July 2011. The series was originally scheduled to air in Malaysia in mid-January, but was later delayed to February. The series was also aired by TV stations in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Mainland China.
On 1 December 2009, Tai Seng Entertainment Channel, an ethnic Chinese entertainment channel on DirecTV, became the first non-Asian station to air The Little Nyonya. It is also the first station to air the series with Cantonese dubbing.
- List of MediaCorp Channel 8 Chinese Drama Series (2000s)
- List of The Little Nyonya episodes
- The Journey (trilogy series)
- The Journey: A Voyage
- The Journey: Tumultuous Times
- The Journey: Our Homeland
- Shown in subtitles on the first episode as "Eguchi Yosuke", which changes the name to "江口洋介".
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- CNA, CNA (1 May 2009). """The Peranakan Ball" musical set for May 16". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "大丫環抄襲小娘惹?". ChinaPress.com. 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
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- (in Chinese) 于正，他们忍你很久了 Archived 2014-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
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- ""The Little Nyonya" to be sold at television trade show in Cannes". Archived from the original on 2009-03-22. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
- "The Little Nyonya goes global in local TV tie-up with Netflix". Archived from the original on 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
| Star Awards for Best Drama Serial
The Little Nyonya