When Heaven Burns

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When Heaven Burns
Promotional poster
GenreSuspense drama
Created byJonathan Chik
Written byChow Yuk-ming
StarringBowie Lam
Moses Chan
Kenny Wong
Charmaine Sheh
Angela Tong
Maggie Shiu
Astrid Chan
Elaine Jin
Chan Hung-lit
Queenie Chu
Opening theme"天與地" (Heaven and Earth) by Paul Wong
Ending theme"年少無知" (Youthful Ignorance) by Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong
ComposerPaul Wong
Country of originHong Kong
Original languagesCantonese
No. of episodes30
ProducerJonathan Chik
Running time45 minutes
Production companyTVB
Original networkTVB Jade, HD Jade
Picture format576i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release21 November 2011 (2011-11-21) –
1 January 2012 (2012-01-01)
When Heaven Burns
Traditional Chinese天與地
Simplified Chinese天与地
Literal meaning"Heaven and Earth"

When Heaven Burns is a 2011 Hong Kong television serial produced by TVB and starring Bowie Lam, Moses Chan, Kenny Wong, Charmaine Sheh and Angela Tong. First revealed during TVB's Sales Presentation 2009 in 2008, filming took place in late 2009 to early 2010, with the first episode airing both in Hong Kong and TVB's overseas affiliates and partners on 21 November 2011. On 27 December 2011, the show was blacklisted by the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, making it the first Hong Kong television drama to be censored in Mainland China in more than two decades.[1]

Despite being the second lowest-rated TVB drama of 2011, When Heaven Burns gained a strong cult following online and received critical acclaim in Hong Kong, winning Best Drama at the 2012 TVB Anniversary Awards.


Eighteen years after a tragic event drove them apart four friends reunite, and in coming to understand the strangers that they have become to each other and themselves, remember who they once were.

In their youth Joe (Bowie Lam), Angus (Moses Chan), Ronnie (Kenny Wong) and Ka Ming are good friends and bandmates. During a mountaineering trip, the four are stranded on a snow bound mountain. and Ka Ming was gravely injured and gets eaten by the other three. This event has a traumatic effect on them, their friendship, and their friendship with Yan (Charmaine Sheh), Ka Ming's girlfriend, leading the previously close group to go their separate ways and abandon their friendship.

Eighteen years later, Yan remains haunted by the memory of Ka Ming, trying to regain what she had with him in part with her husband and in part with her lover, but finding neither a complete replacement for her lost love breaks with them both. Troubled she loses track of time while alone in the wilderness, sparking a missing persons alert which becomes the catalyst for the four friends to meet again. Though she was Ka Ming's girlfriend all four bandmates were in love with her and the three survivors remain in love with her.

Of actions and choices there are consequences and the series ends with the authorities reserving the right to hold some one responsible for the unlicensed festival. The policeman investigating Ka Ming's death predicts that because they have broken a taboo each of the friends will suffer the comeuppance that karma demands, that Joe be imprisoned for financial fraud, that Ronnie be ostracised by his peers and go blind and asks of Angus what his comeuppance will be.

Learning that Yan has decided to leave Hong Kong and that she will no longer see the friends Angus predicts that his punishment will be that he will be lonely for the remainder of his life, never being able to be with the one woman who he has ever loved, the only woman he can ever love. Despite all his protestations that he is no longer a good person and that it is impossible for him to become one again, Joe cancels his contract to have Angus killed, and when faced with the sight of a child possibly being run over instinctively acts to save the child (revealed later to be also named Ka Ming), giving up his life in the process.

The script of "Heaven and Earth" describes the psychological changes of the protagonist in depth. Comment and analysis, the character Song Yilang in the play became rough and brutal after the bloody crime in the snow mountain, but his heart was very fragile; Liu Junxiong rushed around for the rights and interests of the labours, and undoubtedly he was a good person, but he will do anything that leave his principles behind when he faced with setbacks; Zheng Zhenxuan kills for survival, and then chooses to forget. Qi Qiyi, the producer, explained that the theme of "Heaven and Earth" is how the environment will change human nature, and different types of characters are discovered through the human nature presented by people in the play. Eating human is not the focus of the play: "The pressure of life, the social progress will drag you forward, if you can't keep up, you will only fall. Under huge pressure, people will do things that are even unexpected to them, maybe insidious, maybe cruel, after the end, different personality will also have different changes, which is what I wanted to discuss in "Heaven and Earth." Lin Baoyi believes that the three people in the play make different choices when facing crime, not only presenting a different outlook on life, but also providing the audience more room to think, and being able to savor the truth about human nature.

Many contents of "Heaven and Earth" also satirize Hong Kong society ill, bringing out the information of political gloom, social injustice and increasing simplification. For example, in the third episode, Liu Junxiong ’s trade union staff pointed out that large political parties used material advantages to attract supporters. In episode 6, Ye Zien satirized government officials as “human tape recorders”. In addition, there is also a lampoon on the quality of the members of the Legislative Council and the forgetful personality of Hong Kong people. The characters in the play lead to values such as free will, choice of rights, independent personality, and resistance to hegemony. The analysis indicates that the plot and dialogue reflect the public's dissatisfaction with the society and thus resonate with the audience.


The Lau family[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Bowie Lam
Ronald Law (youth)
Lau Chun Hung (Joe)
An accountant/A trade union executive/A Legco candidate
A band drummer
Ma Wing Yee's husband
Au Hoi Ching's love interest, later her lover
Yip Chi Yan's admirer
Sung Yee Long and Cheng Chun Hin's friend
Au Hoi Ching's superior, later lover, finally broke up
Yung Cheuk Wah's subordinate, later lover
Killed and ate Hui Ka Ming
Astrid Chan
Joey Mak (youth)
Ma Wing-yee (Gina)
A nurse
Lau Chun Hung's wife
Ivan's mistress, later broke up

The Yung family[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Elaine Jin Yung Cheuk Wah (Brenda)
Yung Cheuk Tung's older sister
Pointed against Sung Yee Long
Lau Chun Hung's superior, later mistress
Died in a car accident in Episode 25
Maggie Shiu Yung Cheuk Tung (Emma)
Yung Cheuk Wah's younger sister
Sung Yee Long's girlfriend turned wife
Yip Chi Yan and Cheng Kin Sang's friend
Lai Sze Man's love rival
Moses Chan
Yeung Chiu Hoi (youth)
Sung Yee Long (Angus)
A securities agent
Lau Chun Hung and Cheng Chun Hin’s friend
Yung Cheuk Tung's boyfriend turned husband
Lam Pui Ling's ex-boyfriend, later lover
Yip Chi Yan's ex-boyfriend
Killed and ate Hui Ka Ming

The Cheng family[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Kenny Wong
Kelvin Leung (youth)
Cheng Chun Hin (Ronnie)
A former actuary
A bass guitarist
Yeung Suet Mei's husband
Cheng Man-shan and Cheng Man-kei's father
Lau Chun Hung, Sung Yee Long and Yung Cheuk Tung's friend
Killed and ate Hui Ka Ming
Angela Tong Yeung Suet Mei (Shirley)
Cheng Chun Hin's wife
Cheng Man-shan and Cheng Man-kei's mother
Lau Chun Hung's admirer
Yip Chi Yan's good friend, later friendship breaks
Rachel Poon Cheng Man-shan (Katie)
Cheng Chun Hin and Yeung Suet Mei's daughter.
Yeung Ka Shing Cheng Man-kei (Frankie)
Cheng Chun Hin and Yeung Suet Mei's son
Cheng Man-shan's brother

The Yip family[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Yu Tsz Ming Yip Kwong Loi
Yip Chi Yan's father
Doollou Poon Cheung Pui Kwan
Yip Chi Yan's stepmother
Charmaine Sheh
Angel Chiang (youth)
Yip Chi Yan (Hazel, Yan)
Yip Kwong Loi's daughter
Cheung Pui Kwan's stepdaughter
Yung Cheuk Tung's friend
Hui Ka Ming, Sung Yee Long's ex-girlfriend
Arthur's mistress, later broke up
Lau Chun Hung, Sung Yee Long and Cheng Chun Hin's friend and love interest

Workers' Right Protection Association[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Lau Dan Kong Siu Chuen
A trade union leader/A Legco candidate
Lau Chun Hung's master, later broke up
Bowie Lam
Ronald Law (youth)
Lau Chun Hung (Joe)
A trade union executive/A Legco candidate
Kong Siu Chuen's apprentice, later broke up
Au Hoi Ching's superior and love interest, later her lover, finally broke up
Cindy Lee Au Hoi Ching (Cloris)
A trade union member
Lau Chun Hung's assistant
Love Lau Chun Hung, later his mistress, finally broke up
Committed suicide on Episode 27

Ching Ho Finance[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Elaine Jin Yung Cheuk Wah (Brenda)
Hau Chiu Ping's ex-girlfriend
Lau Chun Hung's superior, later mistress
Died in a car accident in Episode 25
Moses Chan Sung Yee Long (Angus)
Chief Operations Officer
Resigned in Episode 20
Bowie Lam Lau Chun Hung (Joe)
Chief Operations Officer
Yung Cheuk Wah's subordinate, later lover
Joined in Episode 20
Chan Hung-lit Hau Chiu Ping (George)
Yung Cheuk Wah's ex-boyfriend
Queenie Chu Lam Pui Ling (Jessica)
Sung Yee Long's subordinate and lover
Yung Cheuk Tung's love rival
Resigned in Episode 20
Cheung Kwok Keung Lui Yiu-bun (Ben)
Triad member
Sung Yee Long's subordinate, later Lau Chun Hung's subordinate
Loved Lam Pui Ling
Kenny Wong Cheng Chun Hin (Ronnie)
Joined in Episode 24

CC Radio[edit]

Cast Role Description Age
Andy Tai Hung Mao Sum (Sam)
Radio Commander
Charmaine Sheh
Angel Chiang (youth)
Yip Chi Yan (Hazel, Yan)
DJ 34
Catherine Chau Mabel DJ
Yip Chi Yan's colleague
Rachel Kan Daisy DJ
Yip Chi Yan's colleague
Bryant Mak Gordon DJ
Yip Chi Yan's colleague
Joe Junior Dr. Dylan A retired DJ that works in Yip Chi Yan's DJ Radio Station
Tai Yiu Ming Rico DJ assistant
Yip Chi Yan's assistant

Other cast[edit]

Cast Role Description
Stanley Cheung Hui Ka Ming
A telecom technician, a band guitarist
Yip Chi Yan's boyfriend and love of her life
Lau Chun Hung, Sung Yee Long and Cheng Chun Hin’s friend
Killed and eaten by Lau Chun Hung, Sung Yee Long and Cheng Chun Hin at the snow mountain
Felix Lok Ivan Wong A doctor
Ma Wing-yee's lover, later broke up
Tsui Wing Arthur Yip Chi Yan's lover, later broke up
Ben Wong Bowman A cook
Yip Chi Yan's husband, later divorced
Calinda Chan (陳宛蔚) Sweets Shop owner
Yeung Ching Wah (楊證樺)
Ho Wai Yip (何偉業)
Yiu Ho Ching (姚浩政)
Cheung Hon Pan (張漢斌)
Fu Kim Hung (傅劍虹)
Chung Yuk Ching (鍾鈺精)
Tsang Yuen Sa (曾琬莎)
Wong Lok Yee (黃樂兒)
Janice Ting (丁樂鍶)
Owen Ng (吳雲甫)

Viewership ratings[edit]

Week Originally Aired Episodes Average Points Peaking Points References
1 21 November 2011 1 29 30 [2]
21–25 November 2011 1 – 5 26 30 [3]
2 28 November – 1 December 2011 6 – 9 25 28 [4]
3 6–9 December 2011 10 – 13 23 [5]
4 12–16 December 2011 14 – 18 23 [6]
5 19–23 December 2011 19 – 23 23 26 [7]
6 26–30 December 2011 24 – 28 24 [8]
1 January 2012 29 – 30 30 34 [9]

Theme songs[edit]

The opening and closing theme songs of When Heaven Burns were composed by Paul Wong, formerly of the Hong Kong band Beyond. Paul Wong is the guitarist for both songs and is the vocalist for the opening theme. The closing theme is sung by the three male leads and serves as the reconstructed lost song.

The plot line of a band returning home with one of their member dead has led to comparisons between the fictional band and Beyond.[citation needed]

Censorship in mainland China[edit]

On 27 December 2011, with four episodes to go, China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television ordered the sub-licensees to withdraw the video streaming on 11 websites based on the pretext of cannibalism, making When Heaven Burns the first Hong Kong soap opera series to be censored in Mainland China in over two decades.[1] The real-time relay in Guangdong province was unaffected, however, and the remaining episodes were shown on television without hindrance in that province.[10] The underlying reason for this withdrawal was thought to be because of the show's underlying allusions to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and non-mainland China media considered this move as censorship.[11] The storyline and the characters demonstrated similarities to the Tiananmen Square protest. When interviewed by Hong Kong's Apple Daily, the show's screenwriter agreed that the story was inspired by the government crackdown on the student democracy movement.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

On 17 December 2012, When Heaven Burns won the TVB Anniversary Award for best drama in 2012, the award was a result of a popular vote.

2012 TVB Anniversary Awards

  • Best Drama
  • Nominated – Best Actress (Charmaine Sheh) – Top 5
  • Nominated – My Favourite Female Character (Charmaine Sheh) – Top 10

My AOD Favourite Awards 2012

  • Nominated – Best Drama
  • Nominated – Best Actress (Charmaine Sheh) – Top 5
  • Nominated – Top 15 Character (Charmaine Sheh)
  • Nominated – Top 15 Character (Bowie Lam)
  • Nominated – Best Theme Song (年少無知 by Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong)

CASH Golden Sail Music Awards 2012

  • Best Chorus Performance (年少無知 by Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong)

17th Asian Television Awards 2012

  • Best Actor – Moses Chan

Metro Radio Hits Music Awards 2012

  • My Most Appreciated Song (年少無知 by Paul Wong)

Ultimate Song Chart Awards 2012

  • WeChat Chit Chat Most Popular Song (年少無知 by Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong)
  • My Favourite Song (年少無知 by Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong)

RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards 2012

  • Top 10 Gold Songs
  • Nominated – Top 10 Singers (Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong)


  1. ^ a b c Hui, Polly (28 December 2011). "Hong Kong Cannibal Drama Censored". The Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ Day 1 Ratings
  3. ^ Week 1 Ratings
  4. ^ Week 2 Ratings
  5. ^ Week 3 Ratings
  6. ^ Week 4 Ratings
  7. ^ Week 5 Ratings
  8. ^ Week 6 Ratings
  9. ^ Finale Ratings
  10. ^ "When Heaven Burns suddenly banned in the mainland (《天與地》內地網突禁播)". Ming Pao. 28 December 2011.
  11. ^ Ng, Joyce; Li, Raymond; Nip, Amy (28 December 2011). "Hong Kong drama series banned on the mainland". South China Morning Post.

External links[edit]