Growing Up parents Lim Kay Tong and Wee Soon Hui are back as a couple on telemovie Sunset

Growing Up parents Lim Kay Tong and Wee Soon Hui are back as a couple in the telemovie Sunset

Actors Lim Kay Tong and Wee Soon Hui had no trouble rediscovering their chemistry during the filming of telemovie Sunset. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP TV
Actors Lim Kay Tong and Wee Soon Hui had no trouble rediscovering their chemistry during the filming of telemovie Sunset. -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP TV

Played by actors Lim Kay Tong and Wee Soon Hui, Mr and Mrs Tay of Channel 5 series Growing Up were arguably the most iconic couple on Singapore TV in the 1990s.

Now, more than 15 years since they last appeared on screen together - Mrs Tay Soo Mei was killed by a robber in season three of Growing Up - Lim and Wee are back on television as husband and wife in a Channel 5 telemovie, Sunset, which airs tomorrow.

The opportunity to work together again was partly why they took on the project, Lim and Wee reveal in separate interviews.

Veteran actor Lim, 60, tells Life! in an interview last week: "I'm glad that she said yes. Soon Hui doesn't always say yes. A lot of people want to cast her, she's quite choosy about the projects that she takes."

The elegant Wee, 56, who was overseas for a personal trip, speaks fondly of working with her "old friend" in an e-mail interview.

"I have a soft spot for Growing Up and all the members of the Tay family. Working with any member of the Tay family and in this case, Kay Tong, definitely triggered sweet memories of our times in Growing Up," says Wee, who left the series for the sake of her three children, now aged 22, 21 and 19.

Growing Up is the longest-running home-grown English-language drama, with 128 episodes in six seasons running from 1996 to 2002.

Despite not having acted together for 16 years, Lim and Wee had no trouble rediscovering the chemistry they used to share during the filming of Sunset in December last year.

The telemovie, which is produced by August Pictures, touches on love in the twilight years.

Lim and Wee play one of three couples featured in it. Wee, who was a Singapore Broadcasting Corporation newsreader in the 1980s, says: "It is not difficult to strike up a great onscreen chemistry with Kay Tong. He is a very fine actor and is able to trigger the right response from whomever he is working with to create the mood the director needs."

Lim returns the compliment in his crisp English: "Soon Hui is a natural. She eases into her role really comfortably. She does it instinctively, as if there is no planning. She just reacts, which is the best kind of acting.

"It felt natural. We do seem to have an on-screen chemistry, whatever the mysterious reason."

While Lim credits his co-star's acting chops for their great teamwork, he adds with a laugh: "It might be chemistry of the visual aspect. I was looking at the trailers and they look pretty nice.

"Maybe it's our facial features on a superficial level. On a deeper level, I think it's about listening and reacting to each other."

The memorable moments on set were between takes when he found time to catch up with Wee, says Lim.

Post-Growing Up, the low-profile Wee says she has been a "happy and contented housewife".

Now that her children are grown up, she hopes to act more.

She was last seen as a mother in local short film Rempah Sayang (2013) and was host of Channel NewsAsia documentary We Made the News! (2013).

Lim, who says that he is married to both his job and food writer Sylvia Tan, has been active in the television and theatre scenes.

Most recently, he made headlines for taking on the challenge of playing Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in local movie 1965, which will be released later this year.

Lim and Wee have been keeping in touch with their Growing Up cast and crew, who will be having their third reunion next week. Those who turned up at the previous gathering included Andrew Seow and Irin Gan, who played the two eldest of the four Tay siblings.

Lim, who reveals that he still gets called Mr Tay, says: "It was good to just joke and relax because usually on set, it's a different atmosphere - because you are concentrating on the roles. It was good to talk and see what everybody else was doing or not doing. I'm just a little sad that none of them are acting full-time."

Wee says: "I met only Andrew and Irin. They look the same as when we left them and in this mother's eyes, they have not aged a bit."

The Growing Up gang have a chat group where the dynamics between the participants are similar to those of the fictitious Tay family, says the amiable Seow.

The 42-year-old, who played the eldest rebel son Gary, says: "Talking to them in the group chat feels like the Tay family all over again. Ah Pa is a man of few words. Soon Hui is the Ah Ma who is always telling us to take care and urging us to meet up again."

Seow, who runs his own online business and is an active animal shelter volunteer, adds: "She says that we are all getting old, how many more times can we meet up before somebody kicks the bucket."

In Growing Up, the children always seemed to come first for Mr and Mrs Tay and the couple's romance was never played up.

This was a conscious decision on the part of the producers, explains Lim.

"The producers said that generation didn't demonstrate any kind of affection. They kept them all in. That was the way it was written and then Mrs Tay died.

"If she didn't die, perhaps, eventually Mrs Tay might have been vaguely unhappy about the fact that Mr Tay doesn't show his emotions. There wasn't any time to develop that, it might have gone that way."

But in Sunset, the pair would not be bottling up any emotions.

Having been in a 23-year marriage herself, Wee believes that it is important for a couple to "remain in love" as there will come a time when the responsibilities and distractions will come to an end.

She says: "When our children are grown up and leave home or when our careers come to an end, what we will be left with is us."

However, she is not one to indulge in the fantasy of romance.

She says: "I don't work to keep romance alive. I work to keep love alive. Romance, to me, is the show business of love. Love, on the other hand, is the real thing."

Surprisingly, the reserved Lim is a romantic at heart.

He and his 67-year- old wife have a son, who is in his 40s and who works in the media industry, and a 15-month-old granddaughter.

Celebrating wedding anniversaries and Valentine's Day has been annual affairs throughout their 32 years of marriage.

He says: "There are little things that you can do - remembering anniversaries, remembering Valentine's Day. It's to let your partner know that she is being considered. There has to be constant reminders that there is a sort of romance in life."

The doting husband reveals that reservations have already been made at a restaurant for Valentine's Day on Saturday. He says: "I've already booked a place. But I would usually discuss it with my wife. She does write about food."

Catch Sunset tomorrow at 10pm on Channel 5.

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