Part 4 in my “TVB Acting Class History” series covers the 3rd year acting class – those who entered the class in 1973 and graduated in 1974 (keep in mind that during this time, the acting classes were still a 1 year program).
** Note 1: The artists’ names listed in BOLD are the ones who were actually active in the HK entertainment industry (as far as I know) and /or ones whom most audiences will probably be familiar with.
** Note 2: Under the “Summary & Thoughts” section, I’ve listed various tidbits as well as other descriptive info about some of the artists that I’ve highlighted in BOLD.
TVB 藝員訓練班（第三期）- 1973 -74年
TVB’s Acting Class – 3rd year (1973-74)
周潤發 (Chow Yun Fat)、吳孟達 (Ng Man Tat)、任達華 (Simon Yam Tat Wah)、林嶺東 (Ringo Lam Ling Dong)、盧海鵬 (Lo Hoi Pang)、鄧英敏 (English Tang Ying Mun)、伍潤泉 (Thomas Ng Yun Chuen)、蕭健鏗 (Hsiao Kin Heng)、林文偉 (Lam Man Wai)
SUMMARY and THOUGHTS:
.— As I stated in my previous post (part 3), starting with the 3rd year class and moving forward, we will start to see a lot of the ‘big names’ in HK entertainment, most of whom still have a significant impact on the industry even today.
.—I’m sure I don’t need to explain who Chow Yun Fat is, correct? In all my years following HK entertainment, I have never encountered a single Hong Konger who wasn’t familiar with Chow Yun Fat – he’s definitely one of the biggest stars to come out of HK and for most of us, he is pretty much a ‘household name’. Therefore, I am not going to go into detail about him in this particular post. However, for those who are interested in learning more about Chow Yun Fat’s life and why he is one of the most respected celebrities on the planet, feel free to check out the Book Review I wrote awhile back ago: Now and Then II: Chow Yun Fat
.—Ng Man Tat (Tat Gor) should definitely be a familiar name to audiences, especially movie audiences (more on that piece later). Known as a ‘golden’ supporting actor, Tat Gor has never played a lead role in his life – he started off in TV as a supporting actor and even when he started doing movies, he continued in supporting roles, eventually making a name for himself and becoming one of the most successful and highest paid supporting actors in the Chinese-speaking regions of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China (he’s actually one of the few HK actors to achieve such success completely relying on supporting roles).
After Tat Gor graduated from Acting Class, he participated in numerous series in the 70s, but mostly had only minor roles. He started becoming familiar to audiences through his performance in the 1979 version of “Chor Lau Heung” (he played Chor Lau Heung’s good friend Wu Tiet Fa). In the 1980s, Tat Gor participated in many ancient series, though he also had quite a few memorable roles in modern series as well, mostly as a ‘stern’ father figure – for me, his most memorable ‘serious’ role from the early 80s was as ‘Yip Sir’ in the “Police Cadet” trilogy (in “Police Cadet ‘84”, he was Tony Leung’s mentor at the cadet training school and in “Police Cade ‘85”, he played Margie Tsang and Jamie Chik’s father – same role but focused more on his family life).
In 1989, Tat Gor collaborated with rising comedic star Stephen Chow (周星馳) on 2 major series (ancient series “The Final Combat” and also modern series “The Justice of Life”) and from that point forward, a comedic ‘dream team’ was born. In 1990, Tat Gor started to focus his career more on movies and with that, continued his ‘dream team’ collaboration with Stephen Chow, participating in almost every single one of Stephen’s movies. He received his first nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the HK Film Awards for his performance in the gambling-themed “All for the Winner” (賭聖) [the Stephen Chow spin-off of Chow Yun Fat’s “God of Gamblers” franchise]. He didn’t win that year, but the following year, he was nominated again in the same category for “A Moment of Romance” (天若有情) [the famous Andy Lau film] and finally took home the award (ironically, in a non-Stephen Chow collaboration). Tat Gor is no longer active in the HK film industry, as he shifted his career to Taiwan and the Mainland in the late 90s, participating mostly in TV series over there. He did reunite briefly with Stephen Chow in 2001 for the film “Shaolin Soccer” however 3 years later when Stephen started filming for “Kung Fu Hustle”, Tat Gor was noticeably absent from the movie (it was rumored that the two had fallen out of favor with each other and therefore ended their long-standing collaboration – supposedly, things are fine now, at least according to Tat Gor).
.—Simon Yam is one of those rare success stories whose decorated career is proof that an actor typecasted as a ‘sex symbol’ can still go on to become one of the most solid and respected actors in the entertainment industry. Prior to joining TVB, Simon worked as a model (not surprising, given his good looks, tall stature, and nearly perfect physique) – after entering the Acting Class and then graduating, he started participating in TV series and films almost simultaneously (though of course at that time, there was more focus placed on his TV career). With such a long career (over 30 years), Simon had the opportunity to play many different roles and is probably one of the few actors who actually had such a wide acting range. But it actually wasn’t like that all the time – in the early years of his career, he was pretty much typecast into either ‘sex symbol’ bad boy type roles or given the role of the villain, though there was the occaisonal ‘honest good guy’ role thrown in there from time to time. Simon had so many memorable performances when he was at TVB, it’s actually very difficult to pick a ‘favorite’ -- though if I had to choose, I would probably count his performances in “The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung” (1984), “Police Cade ‘85” (1985), “The New Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre” (1986), and his most representative work (at TVB) “War of the Dragon” (1989) amongst my favorites. In fact, I actually feel that his performance in “War of the Dragon” was so good, it was absolutely award-worthy (too bad there were no TV awards back then) – that series definitely secured Simon’s ‘lead actor’ status and proved that he definitely had acting skill. Ironically, it was also around that time that he left TVB and went to ATV – though technically, he was also continuing to focus more on his movie career as well, since it was also around that time (early 90s) that he really started participating in a lot of movies. And then, in the mid-90s, he pretty much left ATV to focus completely on his movie career (though still participating in a series or two here and there) – definitely a wise decision given how successful he eventually became in the movie industry (finally winning the HKFA Best Actor award in 2010 for his performance in “Echoes of the Rainbow.”)
Some interesting facts about Simon’s background – he actually comes from a family of police officers, as his dad was a Police Corporal (he died while on duty when Simon was just 14 years old) and his older brother was the former Deputy Commissioner of Police in HK. Of course, we all know that his wife is famous model Qi Qi and together, they have a daughter named Ella.
.—Ringo Lam is a famous movie director who was most active back in the 80s and 90s. After graduating from the Acting Class, he had a few minor roles in a few series, but then switched to doing behind the scenes work, first as an assistant editor, then as a choreographer. He participated in the production of a few TVB series in the late 70s. He then left TVB in 1978 and went to Commercial Television, but his career there was short-lived, since CTV went belly up not too long after that. Therefore, Ringo decided to immigrate to Canada and study film at York University. He returned to HK in the early 80s and that’s when his career really took off, as he started applying the skills he learned and became a director. The genre that he specialized in was action drama, though he did occasionally direct a comedy or two. I’m actually not too familiar with Ringo’s work, but I do know that he was most famous for the “On Fire” films [“City on Fire” (龍虎風雲), “Prison on Fire” (監獄風雲), and “School on Fire” (學校風雲)] back in the late 80s and had won an HKFA Best Director award for one of the films. Out of the 3 films, I’m only familiar with the first two, which starred Chow Yun Fat.
.—The best way to describe Lo Hoi Pang (Pang Gor) is ‘multi-talented comedic genius’. Even though he was naturally born with a ‘sour-looking’ face, that’s certainly not the image that audiences have of him all these years. As the mainstay of TVB’s long-running flagship variety show “Enjoy Yourself Tonight” (E.Y.T.), Pang Gor made audiences laugh day in and day out with his hilarious comedic routines (usually consisting of ad-libbed dialogue), funny and oftentimes irreverent jokes, and most famously, his great imitation skills. His cutting dialogue in the E.Y.T. skit “The Shrimp Family” as well as his habit of ad-libbing and speaking in rhyme on the show left a deep impression on audiences and to this day, that particular skit still goes down in history as one of the all time classics in HK TV history. Pang Gor was also known for his acting skills and throughout his career, he participated in numerous TV series, movies, as well stage productions. He most recently participated in the stage production of “Shrimp Crazy Family”, which was a reunion of sorts for the E.Y.T. and Shrimp Family cast. (For more information regarding the “Shrimp Crazy Family” stage production, feel free to check out this post: The Return of a Classic)
I remember growing up watching Pang Gor on many of TVB’s variety shows, especially the Anniversary Gala skits and I can tell you first hand that he is absolutely hilarious! He’s definitely the ‘master’ of imitation and was even one of the early artists to perform in drag -- honestly speaking, he puts those imitation wannabees (the current ‘3 gods’, whom I can’t stand, especially when they dress up in drag!!) absolutely to shame! He’s definitely one of the few ‘all –around entertainers’ out there who is able to excel in all disciplines – I can’t think of anyone else in the industry with his caliber of skill.
.—English Tang is another one of those artists whose face audiences will surely recognize, since he participated in so many series in the past few decades and is still active even now (though on the acting front, most of his roles have always been minor ones). English is actually best known for being a host, as that’s where his strength lies – he hosted a variety of shows back in the day, but his most famous ‘gig’ was hosting TVB’s long-running E.Y.T., which he had done from the late 70s until E.Y.T. ended in the 90s (of course, he didn’t host every single episode, but he did host a majority of them). His daughter is Shermon Tang (鄧上文), a former Miss HK contestant from 2005 (I think she won the Most Photogenic award that year, though I’m not sure if she actually made it into top 3 or not, since I pretty much stopped watching the Miss HK pageants in the late 90s) who eventually became an actress and participated in quite a few TVB series (mostly minor roles though).
.—Thomas Ng may not be a familiar name to most audiences, as he is a producer and so works behind the scenes, plus there is so little information about him out there nowadays. Actually, to be more specific, I should say that Thomas is a FORMER producer for TVB (and subsequently ATV) because to be honest, I’m not sure if he’s still producing anymore (again, there is very little information about him, so I’m not too sure what he is doing career-wise now). Back in the 80s, he produced quite a few popular series that most 80s fanatics will be familiar with – for example: “The Legend of Master So” (1982) starring Chow Yun Fat and Andy Lau, “The Fearless Duo” (1984) starring Michael Miu and Barbara Yung, “Siblings of Vice and Virtue” (1986) starring Eddie Cheung, Barbara Chan, Kenneth Tsang, “The Two Most Honorable Knights” (1988) starring Tony Leung and Hugo Ng, etc. The only other thing I found out about Thomas Ng is that he was a very close friend of Barbara Yung’s and during her funeral, he was one of the pallbearers along with the Tigers.
.—The remaining 2 artists listed I’m not familiar with at all, though if they were actually actors onscreen (even in ‘ke le fe’ roles), I would probably recognize them if I saw their pictures. If anyone is familiar with them, please let me know.
Stay tuned for post #5.