‘You Can Be an Angel 3’ stars get blood on their hands

What are Zoe Tay, Pierre Png, Desmond Tan and Carrie Wong doing strapping on gloves in the basement of a hospital?

Pierre Png, Zoe Tay, Carrie Wong and Desmond Tan
Pierre Png, Zoe Tay, Carrie Wong and Desmond Tan
23 May 2018

Pierre Png, Zoe Tay, Carrie Wong and Desmond Tan

Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Goh Wen Kai

We are in the basement of Jurong Community Hospital, watching four local artistes gleefully draw blood from each other. A scream is heard at one point.

Don’t worry, the showbiz industry has not turned into a sadistic, Hunger Games-like display of terror and violence. What we are witnessing is a perfectly safe nursing training session involving actors Zoe Tay, Pierre Png, Desmond Tan and Carrie Wong, who are soon to star in the third season of popular medical drama You Can Be an Angel Too.

At the moment, the foursome is learning how to test a patient’s blood sugar levels using a glucose metre, hence the extraction of crimson life fluid via a quick prick of the finger before feeding it to the small machine for a reading.

Dramatically needle-averse Desmond (he later recounts the time he rejected a shot that would have erased a whole week of suffering) does not seem like he is looking forward to having his digit punctured by Pierre, who appears like he’s having a bit too much fun.

“Have you ever seen a very tan person go pale? Because you’re about to,” he quips, but the despair in his joking tone is unmistakable. The man who chowed down on raw fish, locked himself in a room for days to prepare for a role, and is fresh off his first portrayal of a serial killer cowers before a tiny medical tool.

Oh, and in case anyone’s still wondering: despite these seemingly obvious circumstances, that shriek we mentioned earlier came from Carrie, not Desmond. Well, unless internal screaming counts.

(Continued on next slide: The stars are like hard-working students)

The nurse teaches the actors about measuring one's blood glucose levels
The nurse teaches the actors about measuring one's blood glucose levels
23 May 2018

The nurse teaches the actors about measuring one's blood glucose levels

Less shudder-inducing demonstrations of the day include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), taking blood pressure and dressing wounds. We notice Carrie furiously scribbling notes at almost every step, or taking videos with her phone.

“I’m flying back to Taiwan tonight and I might not have time to do any special research, so at least I will have something to refer back to when filming starts,” she explains her diligent actions to us. “I want to execute the procedures as realistically as possible, so details like when to put on gloves or the angle of an injection are important.”

Also displaying top student-like behaviour is Pierre, who asks a lot of questions. “I’m just a very curious person by nature, and I like to know more about the why’s, how’s and don’ts,” he tells us. His inquisitiveness is also essential in helping him nail his role as an Advanced Practice Nurse, who is considerably more experienced and - as we try to put it in simple terms - “super pro”.

Zoe, who was in both the previous Angel dramas, is arguably the most “super pro” at the procedures in real life, drawing from her prior training sessions to guide her juniors with the simpler steps. That said, Ah Jie still pays attention like she is hearing everything for the first time (which is true in some cases, as details could have been changed or added).

While this is the one and only training session they will get before shooting begins next month, the actors can rest assured that there will be actual healthcare staff (real angels!) on set to answer any questions and help make each procedure as realistic-looking as possible.

Click on for more photos from the training session as well as our interviews with the stars!

Starring in ‘Angel’ helped lessen Zoe Tay’s fear of needles
Starring in ‘Angel’ helped lessen Zoe Tay’s fear of needles
23 May 2018

Starring in ‘Angel’ helped lessen Zoe Tay’s fear of needles

According to Ah Jie, there is bound to be at least one person who is terrified of needles or blood among the Angel cast in each season (it was Xu Bin in the last instalment, and now the “baton” has been passed to Desmond, which we will get to in a bit).

Zoe herself used to be one of them, but after starring in two - and soon to be three - nursing shows and receiving numerous shots when she was pregnant with each of her children, she is not as afraid of them as before (as long as she doesn’t see the actual needle, which activates her imagination and some pretty gruesome images).

The most excruciating jab she has ever received, she believes, was when one of her sons was born. “When I was pregnant, I would get nauseous easily, so I was already very uncomfortable to begin with,” she tells us. “So when the nurse drew my blood, it was like adding hail to snow [Ed’s note: a Chinese idiom that basically means making a bad situation worse].”

She continues, “It was agonising! I rarely scream because I’m usually quite good at enduring pain, but at that moment, I remember screaming when she drew my blood.”

Yikes. Brayden, Ashton and Nathan should know everything their lion-hearted mama has gone through to bring them into this world.

(Continued on next slide: Desmond Tan goes from slayer to saviour)

Desmond Tan goes from slayer to saviour
Desmond Tan goes from slayer to saviour
23 May 2018

Desmond Tan goes from slayer to saviour

The sight of the newly crowned Best Actor raising a syringe while posing for pictures is unnerving to say the least, because we still can’t get his spine-chilling delivery of a ruthless “nice Singaporean boy” (who tortures and murders innocent women for sport, by the way) in Channel 5’s Code of Law out of our heads.

Even Desmond himself admits that he has to actively keep his gestures and expressions in check when handling such tools.

“I realised I wasn’t holding [the syringe] like a nurse, but like a killer,” he chuckles. “And when we were preparing to dress a wound, I felt like I was in Code of Law again, where I casually take a knife and stab someone - it’s a familiar feeling, but also very different at the same time.”

His creepy image quickly evaporates when Desmond goes into detail about his phobia of needles. He believes he was left traumatised after getting a numbing injection when he got a tooth pulled as a kid, plus, he has an unsettlingly vivid imagination that lets him picture the needle penetrating his skin and… let’s just stop here.

The fear is pretty extreme. “Once, I injured my waist to the point that I couldn’t even stand up straight,” he recalls. “The doctor said a shot would help heal it faster, but I rejected it! I chose to endure the pain for a week.”

So, what happens if needles are absolutely necessary? “I had a full body check-up for the first time early this year or late last year, and the nurse had to take four tubes of blood,” he shudders. “I wanted to faint.”

Desmond goes on to re-enact his exact reaction to the jabs. It’s a bit difficult to truly capture the effect with words. Let’s just say you’d think the nurse was peeling the flesh from his bones.

Well, if he’s lucky, being in this show might help him overcome his crippling dread. It worked for Zoe, after all.

(Continued on next slide: Pierre Png’s post-acting career: junior nurse?)

Pierre Png’s post-acting career: junior nurse?
Pierre Png’s post-acting career: junior nurse?
23 May 2018

Pierre Png’s post-acting career: junior nurse?

Don’t be too surprised if you see Pierre tending to you during your next hospital visit (touch wood - we wish all our readers good health and safety).

“If given the chance, I’d love to learn more [about nursing], and who knows? Maybe in time to come, when this whole showbiz thing is over, I could learn to be a junior nurse or something,” he muses. “It’s definitely a profession that I admire and take my hat off to.”

In the meantime, the Crazy Rich Asians actor will get his first taste of this noble occupation in Angel 3, which is his first time playing a nurse. While he has undergone first-aid training for rescue diving before (and binged on YouTube videos of it), he is new to taking blood and giving injections.

“I’ve had blood drawn from me quite a few times so I recognised a few of the steps,” he says, sheepishly adding with a grin. “And I’m quite accident prone so I’ve visited hospitals quite a bit.”

Fortunately for him, Pierre has superhuman abilities, and by that we mean he is immune to the horrors of getting a jab. “I’m not afraid of giving blood and I have no fear of needles,” he shrugs. “A lot of people look away so they don’t see how big the needle is, but I want to know how big of a needle is going into my skin, so I actually look at the whole procedure.”

What did we say? Superhuman. We’re sure Desmond would agree.

(Continued on next slide: Carrie Wong wouldn’t make the best nurse)

Carrie Wong wouldn’t make the best nurse
Carrie Wong wouldn’t make the best nurse
23 May 2018

Carrie Wong wouldn’t make the best nurse

Her Angel character may be an award-winning nurse, but Carrie admits that she’s not really suited to be one in real life because she can be quite clumsy. Not exactly an ideal trait for someone poking needles into flesh all day long.

At least she’s “not as afraid of needles as Desmond”, as she reports. So what’s the explanation for that scream she unleashed when Zoe pricked her finger for the blood sugar test?

“Honestly, it was quite painful! Don’t tell Ah Jie,” she chuckles nervously. “I’m familiar with the machine because my mum uses it as well, and she’s done the test on me before. Usually I don’t feel anything [when she pricks me] but just now at that moment, it was quite painful.”

Fine, you didn’t see us volunteering our fingers and blood as tributes for the test, so we have no right to judge.

Desmond and Carrie are seen diligently taking notes
Desmond and Carrie are seen diligently taking notes
23 May 2018

Desmond and Carrie are seen diligently taking notes

Carrie gets her finger pricked and blood drawn by Zoe: a saga
Carrie gets her finger pricked and blood drawn by Zoe: a saga
23 May 2018

Carrie gets her finger pricked and blood drawn by Zoe: a saga

Desmond is clearly not enjoying getting his blood drawn by Pierre
Desmond is clearly not enjoying getting his blood drawn by Pierre
23 May 2018

Desmond is clearly not enjoying getting his blood drawn by Pierre

Zoe and Pierre, on the other hand, are clearly not bothered by the pricking
Zoe and Pierre, on the other hand, are clearly not bothered by the pricking
23 May 2018

Zoe and Pierre, on the other hand, are clearly not bothered by the pricking

The nurse demonstrates how to properly prepare a syringe and needle for use
The nurse demonstrates how to properly prepare a syringe and needle for use
23 May 2018

The nurse demonstrates how to properly prepare a syringe and needle for use

Zoe shows her juniors how to perform chest compressions
Zoe shows her juniors how to perform chest compressions
23 May 2018

Zoe shows her juniors how to perform chest compressions

Desmond and Carrie learn about dressing wounds
Desmond and Carrie learn about dressing wounds
23 May 2018

Desmond and Carrie learn about dressing wounds

The actors gets a hands-on experience with an oxygen mask
The actors gets a hands-on experience with an oxygen mask
23 May 2018

The actors gets a hands-on experience with an oxygen mask

Zoe tries the heart rate monitor on herself
Zoe tries the heart rate monitor on herself
23 May 2018

Zoe tries the heart rate monitor on herself

Pierre and Zoe get a refresher course on how to perform CPR
Pierre and Zoe get a refresher course on how to perform CPR
23 May 2018

Pierre and Zoe get a refresher course on how to perform CPR

Desmond and Carrie learn how to perform a colostomy
Desmond and Carrie learn how to perform a colostomy
23 May 2018

Desmond and Carrie learn how to perform a colostomy

You Can Be an Angel 3 premieres on October 29, 9pm on Channel 8.

Watch:
Desmond Tan is terrified of needles

Watch past episodes of You Can Be an Angel Too and You Can Be an Angel S2 on Toggle.

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