SINGAPORE - There were more than a few upsets on Sunday night (April 18) at the Star Awards, Mediacorp's annual ceremony to celebrate its Chinese-language television.
In the Top Ten Most Popular Female Artistes categories, popular actress Felicia Chin, 36, who was one trophy away from amassing 10 awards in this category to become an All Time Favourite Artiste, was excluded, while hot favourite Chantalle Ng, 25, whose profile rose considerably after the popularity of the recent Channel 8 drama My Star Bride, missed out as well.
A few new and old faces, however, made the cut at the socially distanced show held at Terminal 4 of Changi Airport and Jewel Changi Airport. Among them were first-time winners Hong Ling and Bonnie Loo, who both shed tears as they accepted their trophies. Ann Kok, 48, who left Mediacorp in 2014 but continues to act, also took one of the spots - her first time doing so since last winning in the category in 2013.
In a post-win interview, Loo, 26, said: "I'm the last name announced and I was seated next to Felicia. I could feel that she was really sad and I felt a bit embarrassed, like I took her win, but I really hope she can win her trophy next year."
Veteran actress Jin Yinji, 74, took home her second win in the category since 2018 after numerous nominations. She also won the Evergreen Artiste award.
In the major acting awards, Zoe Tay won Best Actress for My Guardian Angels, in which she played a single mother. This is the 53-year-old actress' fourth win, setting a record for most number of wins in the category.
Qi Yuwu, 44, took home Best Actor for his time-travelling role in A Quest To Heal. His wife, actress Joanne Peh, leapt to her feet and hugged him when the result was announced. The drama, which starred Qi and Carrie Wong, with scenes shot on location in China, also took home Best Drama Serial.
Veteran male stars were also in the spotlight with several winning the Top Ten Most Popular Male Artiste award. Long-time radio deejay Marcus Chin won for the very first time.
The 67-year-old said: "I'm shaking. I never thought I'll win because all these past years I've been an also-ran."
Fellow veteran Chen Shucheng, 71, also won - only his second win in a 50-year career. He said: "I'll never give up on myself. I'll prove that old is gold."
Dennis Chew and Zheng Geping both won their 10th award in the category - putting them in line to collect their All Time Favourite Artiste award next year.
As last year's show had to be cancelled because of Covid-19, the category, which is decided by audience votes, was expanded from 20 to 30 nominees to account for two years of television. Performance and programme categories also had seven, instead of five, nominees.
The broadcaster's annual glitzy affair divided its stars into separate seating areas for a socially distanced show, while overseas presenters and guests like Hong Kong singer-actress Gigi Leung and Taiwanese talk show host Kevin Tsai made virtual appearances. Stars wore masks except when they were on camera.
Former hosting partners Bryan Wong and Kym Ng, who both became well-known to audiences as hosts through the 1990s infotainment programme City Beat, took home Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress respectively.
Wong, 50, who changed lanes and decided to focus more on acting over hosting when he was in his 40s, said in a post-win interview: "I'm like a millennial in that I also believe 'You live only once'. I used to be a child star so I feel like if one day I am to end my career, it should end with acting so I made the decisive switch."
Ng, 53, added: "This shows that us hosts can act!"
The event's 47-year-old host, Quan Yifeng, continued to dominate the Best Programme Host category, winning for the fourth consecutive time for the talk show Hear U Out.
Best Newcomer went to Star Search 2019's winner Zhang Zetong, while the newly instituted Best Radio Programme award, given to coincide with the 85th anniversary of radio broadcasting in Singapore, went to The Breakfast Quartet on Love 972 hosted by Mark Lee, Dennis Chew, Marcus Chin and Chen Biyu.
A significant portion of time was also dedicated to the sole All Time Favourite Artiste award for host Dasmond Koh.
The award is given to stars who have received the Top Ten Most Popular Artiste award 10 times. Koh was recently in the news after hinting at an unhappy incident between Elvin Ng and Angel Lim, an actress under Koh's management agency Noontalk Media.
When asked if he saw Elvin Ng at the ceremony during a post-win interview, the 49-year-old said the two said hello to each other.
Star Awards Winners
Best Drama Serial
A Quest To Heal
Best Entertainment Programme
King Of Culinary
Qi Yuwu (A Quest To Heal)
Zoe Tay (My Guardian Angels)
Best Supporting Actor
Bryan Wong (A Quest To Heal)
Best Supporting Actress
Kym Ng (Daybreak)
Best Programme Host
Quan Yifeng (Hear U Out)
Zhang Zetong (A Jungle Survivor)
Best Radio Programme
The Breakfast Quartet, Love 972
Top Ten Most Popular Male Artistes
Top Ten Most Popular Female Artistes