Zheng Wanling, Nick Shen return to TV for Eat Already 3

A feast of first times and comebacks: Magician Ning Cai makes her acting debut and Felicia Chin tackles a Hokkien-speaking character for the first time

Zheng Wanling, Nick Shen return to TV for Eat Already 3
Zheng Wanling, Nick Shen return to TV for Eat Already 3
23 May 2017

Zheng Wanling, Nick Shen return to TV for Eat Already 3

Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Foong Mien Shi, Genice Ooi

After two successful seasons, popular dialect drama Eat Already? is back for a third instalment with a new director – Royston Tan hands over the reins to Kelvin Tong – and several new faces, in addition to a couple of familiar ones.

One notable appearance is that of Zheng Wanling, who left showbiz for married life in 1998 and relocated to Panama with her diplomat husband and daughter. The former actress told Toggle at yesterday’s lensing ceremony that she was in Singapore earlier this year when she caught Eat Already? for the first time on TV.

“I thought it looked like so much fun and wondered why nobody invited me to join the cast! (laughs)” Wanling shared these thoughts with her pal Aileen Tan, who passed her a producer’s contact number, and she soon nabbed the role of nurse Tan Fong Leng. “I’m not sure if this character was created especially for me, but I think it really suits me.”

We don’t think she’ll run into any trouble with the dialects either, judging from her impromptu delivery of smooth, rapid-fire Teochew and Hokkien in the middle of our interview. “But I’m really hoping to take on an English role next!” said Wanling, who was last seen in WaWa Pictures’ Perfect Cut 2 in 2009.

Because of her unexpected involvement in Eat Already? 3, Wanling extended her three-month stay to six months, after which she will return to Panama for her daughter’s high school graduation in early October.

As for the child’s plans post-graduation, things are still up in the air at the moment, although Wanling happily stated that she has no qualms about the 18-year-old following her mummy’s footsteps into showbiz.

“I think it would be fun for her if she gets a good opportunity, but I’m not sure if she would be up for the challenge, although she isn’t camera-shy,” she said. That said, a more likely career path would be in the arts, as Wanling’s daughter may have her sights set on becoming a manga illustrator. “She can spend eight to 10 hours a day drawing! But I think it’s important to be passionate about whatever you do.”

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Nick Shen and Felicia Chin: first-time onscreen lovers and dialect speakers
Nick Shen and Felicia Chin: first-time onscreen lovers and dialect speakers
23 May 2017

Nick Shen and Felicia Chin: first-time onscreen lovers and dialect speakers

While his Channel 8 comeback on Legal Eagles (after seven long years) was a brief three-episode stint, Nick is set to have a meatier role in Eat Already? 3 as Ken, an entrepreneur attempting to revive his father’s coffee shop business. As the series progresses, sparks will fly between him and Felicia’s character Qi Qi, the daughter of a traditional snack store owner.

“What’s interesting is that we’ll be dating in Hokkien!” said Nick with a chuckle. The former Star Search victors – Nick was Singapore Male Champion in 1999 while Felicia was 2003’s Overall Female Champion – worked together for the first time on Legal Eagles, but Eat Already? 3 will be the first time they are romantically involved on screen.

It will also be their first time speaking dialect on TV. “To be honest, I don’t speak dialect often so this is a very exciting challenge for me,” said Felicia, adding that she aims for improved fluency in Hokkien by the time filming wraps. The 32-year-old also has her own mother to turn to for coaching. “My mum has given me a lot of encouragement and has been very patient with me.”

As for Nick, who has to communicate with his onscreen father Rayson Tan in Hokkien and onscreen mother Lin Mejiao in Teochew, he seemed quite confident in his dialect abilities, thanks to his real-life parents. However, “Speaking dialect from a script may be different, so I might have to turn to the director and producer for help.”

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Nick Shen would consider returning to Mediacorp?
Nick Shen would consider returning to Mediacorp?
23 May 2017

Nick Shen would consider returning to Mediacorp?

Since leaving Mediacorp in 2011, Nick has poured most of his time and energy into his company Tok Tok Chiang, which organises Chinese opera workshops and events. However, his love for acting on the small screen never waned, and when he was approached for Eat Already? 3, he accepted the part as he had some free time on his hands.

“Now that I have my own team [at Tok Tok Chiang], I can leave whatever work I have there to them temporarily while I take other acting jobs,” said the 40-year-old. “I really miss television work; it’s like my second home, and I’m looking forward to more opportunities in the future.”

In fact, Nick may even consider signing a full-time contract with the TV station if more offers pour in – that is, if they’re roles that don’t cast him in a negative light just for the sake of it.

“My company works closely with schools so principals and teachers usually have high expectations of me,” he explained. “If a character is bad but there are lessons that can be learned from him, then I will still accept it, but I won’t even consider a negative role that has no educational value.”

Magician Ning Cai makes her acting debut
Magician Ning Cai makes her acting debut
23 May 2017

Magician Ning Cai makes her acting debut

While Ning Cai – who used to be known as Magic Babe Ning – is no stranger to TV cameras, Eat Already? 3 marks the first time she will be playing someone other than herself. She shared that she was initially brought on as a consultant for Zheng Ge Ping’s magician-slash-chef character’s tricks, but she ended up nabbing the role of his assistant.

“I’m very humbled to be working with veterans and award-winning thespians, and I’m very excited to learn new things especially with dialects,” gushed the 34-year-old, who will be speaking mostly Cantonese and English in the show. “Although my parents never really taught me dialect, I have an amazing team who’s very supportive and the executive producer is my Cantonese coach, so I’m in good hands! (laughs)”

When asked what sort of grand illusions she and Ge Ping will be conjuring up on screen, Ning teased that there will be a lot of fire-based effects to suit their kitchen theme. “They are very visual, vibrant and fierce tricks that look very good,” she promised, reassuring us that there will be a professional team on set to ensure that everything stays safe and under control.

Hong Hui Fang is recovering from oral surgery
Hong Hui Fang is recovering from oral surgery
23 May 2017

Hong Hui Fang is recovering from oral surgery

Hui Fang revealed that she underwent oral surgery last Monday to remove a 4cm-long tumour from inside her mouth, and that she is still waiting for test results to come back next week to find out what it caused it (let’s hope and pray it’s nothing serious!).

Despite the procedure and the fact that she still had stitches in her mouth, the 57-year-old maintained her cheerful demeanour and even managed to start shooting for Eat Already? 3 yesterday. The only issue is that she has to limit her diet to soft or liquid foods – a change that helped her lose 2kg. “But that’s a good thing!” she said with a hearty chuckle.

Eat Already? 3 premieres August 18, 2017, 12 noon on Channel 8.

Zheng Wanling and Hong Hui Fang
Zheng Wanling and Hong Hui Fang
23 May 2017

Zheng Wanling and Hong Hui Fang

Felicia Chin
Felicia Chin
23 May 2017

Felicia Chin

Zheng Wanling
Zheng Wanling
23 May 2017

Zheng Wanling

Zheng Ge Ping plays a magician-slash-chef in the show - complete with an edgy, sexy outfit
Zheng Ge Ping plays a magician-slash-chef in the show - complete with an edgy, sexy outfit
23 May 2017

Zheng Ge Ping plays a magician-slash-chef in the show - complete with an edgy, sexy outfit

Ning shows off a cool fire-eating trick, amazing Zheng Ge Ping
Ning shows off a cool fire-eating trick, amazing Zheng Ge Ping
23 May 2017

Ning shows off a cool fire-eating trick, amazing Zheng Ge Ping

The cast and crew of 'Eat Already? 3' at the lensing ceremony
The cast and crew of 'Eat Already? 3' at the lensing ceremony
23 May 2017

The cast and crew of 'Eat Already? 3' at the lensing ceremony

The cast and crew of 'Eat Already? 3' pose for a drone wefie
The cast and crew of 'Eat Already? 3' pose for a drone wefie
23 May 2017

The cast and crew of 'Eat Already? 3' pose for a drone wefie

Watch: The Eat Already? 3 cast talks about their dialect-speaking skills

Watch past episodes of Eat Already? and Eat Already? 2 on Toggle.

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