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The Little Nyonya

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Little Nyonya
The Little Nyonya theatrical Poster
GenrePeriod drama
Written byAng Eng Tee (洪荣狄)
Directed byChong Liung Man (张龙敏)
Tay Peck Choo (郑碧珠)
Chia Mien Yang (谢敏洋)
Loo Yin Kam (卢燕金)
StarringJeanette Aw
Qi Yuwu
Pierre Png
Joanne Peh
Xiang Yun
Opening theme如燕 by Olivia Ong
Ending theme保温 by Bevlyn Khoo
需要 by JS
Country of originSingapore
Original languagesMandarin
(with partial English, Malay, Japanese and Hokkien)
No. of episodes34
ProducerChia Mien Yang (谢敏洋)
Running timeapprox. 45 minutes
Original networkMediaCorp TV Channel 8
Original release25 November 2008 (Singapore) –
5 January 2009 (Final Chapter on 11 January 2009)
Astro: March 2009 / ntv7: 26 October 2009 (Malaysia)
29 March 2009 (Cambodia)
MIPTV: March 31, 2009 (France)
24 August 2012 (Philippines)
5 September 2009 (Burma)
1 December 2009 (U.S.)
Shanghai: 2009 / China (Satellite) 16 January 2010
TPBS: 20 January 2010 (Thailand)
TVB: 26 April 2010 (Hong Kong)
MediaCorp Suria (Singapore): February 2, 2011 (episodes 1-12), 4 April 2011 (episodes 13-34)
Preceded byBy My Side
Followed byReunion Dinner
Related shows New Little Nyonya (2019)
External links

The Little Nyonya (Chinese: 娘惹) is a 2008 drama serial on Singapore's free-to-air MediaCorp TV Channel 8. It stars Jeanette Aw, Qi Yuwu, Pierre Png, Joanne Peh and Xiang Yun as the casts of the series. The storyline, which circles around the biographical flashback of an extended Peranakan family in Malacca, is set in the 1930s and spans to over 70 years and several generations of three families.

It debuted on November 25, 2008 and concluded its run on January 5, 2009. It was shown on weekdays at 9 pm. The series was partly sponsored by the Media Development Authority of Singapore.

Produced by MediaCorp in commemoration of the channel's 45th anniversary, The Little Nyonya is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series on Channel 8. It has been acclaimed by viewers and critics, and raked the highest viewership in the country in 14 years. The success of The Little Nyonya has led to the show being broadcast internationally. The series became the first ever Singaporean Chinese drama to be dubbed in Malay and aired on Malay-language channel Suria. In December 2016, the subscription-based streaming service Netflix acquired broadcasting rights for the series.[1] The series spanned a Chinese remake of the same name broadcasting on CCTV, which aired for 45 episodes beginning June 28, 2020 and ended on July 20. Singapore aired the remake from January 5, 2021 until March 10, 2021.


The story spans over 70 years, from the 1930s till present day.

Huang Juxiang is born into a large Peranakan family where her mother is a mistress. She is gentle, beautiful and a fantastic cook. Due to a serious illness when she was 9 years old, Juxiang becomes a deaf-mute. Because of her handicap, she is ostracized by people. Right before the Japanese Occupation in Singapore, she is forced to marry Charlie Zhang, a rich Peranakan, and become his concubine. Juxiang resists the marriage and runs away from home. She then meets Yamamoto Yousuke, a young Japanese photographer. After overcoming many obstacles, they finally get married and Juxiang gives birth to a daughter Yueniang. During the World War, Juxiang is injured and she and her husband die, leaving behind their 8-year-old daughter.

The orphaned Yueniang eventually walks to her grandfather's house on her own. Her grandmother rejoices her return. Under the supervision of her grandmother, she learns to cook Peranakan dishes and sewing. She grows up looking exactly like her mother and is exceptionally beautiful. After the war, her maternal relatives who sought refuge in England return home. Yueniang ends up leading the life of her mother – always discriminated against, abused, blamed and tortured. She puts up with this mistreatment to protect her grandmother.

Yueniang's beauty incurs jealousy from her cousin, Zhenzhu and attracts the attention of many rich Peranakans. However, she only has eyes for the penniless driver Niuzai, who claims that he has 10 younger brothers and sisters to look after. Niuzai, whose real name is Chen Xi, actually comes from an educated and wealthy family. Yueniang's kindness, purity and persistence move Chen Xi and he falls deeply in love with her. He fakes his identity to be with Yueniang. Unfortunately, their relationship is filled with many obstacles and difficulties. Under pressure from his family, Chen Xi is forced to marry Yueniang's cousin, Yuzhu, instead. But Chen Xi was then forced to marry Zhenzhu after Yuzhu was raped by Robert, Charlie Zhang's son. Yueniang is then married off to a butcher, Liu Yidao. Many things happen after this and it is revealed that the Huangs use misunderstandings and mistakes for granted and resort to off-board measures.

Yueniang is unwilling to accept the fact that she is always manipulated by others and decides to end her life. Her strong personality impresses Liu Yidao and they become sworn siblings instead. Yueniang decides to choose her own path in life. She begins learning how to run a business and, in the process, she is framed and ousted from her business. Despite the odds, she manages save her business as well as her declining family business. Soon, she marries the lawyer, Paul but suffered two miscarriages. She adopts Yuzhu's son and names him Zuye. Zuye has two sons and a daughter. The daughter's name is Angela, in the present time. She has her business and sells cosmetics from overseas. However, Yueniang eventually succumbs to intestinal cancer, and dies.


Huang family

Cast Role Description
Yan Bingliang 严炳量 Huang Yuan (黄元, also known as towkay or 頭家, meaning "Head of Household" Semi-Villain

The head of the Huang family, husband of Tua Ji, father of Meiyu, Jincheng and Juxiang. He is forced to follow the family's manipulations, essentially selling out the members of his family in order to stay financially afloat. For example, he is persuaded into disregarding Juxiang as part of their family.

Lin Meijiao 林梅娇 Lin Guihua (林桂花, also known as Tua Ji or "Big Sister" Main Villain

The matriarch of the Huang family and mother of Meiyu and Jincheng. She is very protective of her children, and hates Tianlan's side of the family with a passion, treating them as mere inferiors. She blames them for all the misfortunes happening in the family, but later confesses to her sins and suffers a stroke during her attempt to burn Yueniang.

Xiang Yun 向云 Wang Tianlan (王天兰) Mother of Juxiang. She is a maid of the Huang family. Having been raped by Huang Yuan, she was taken in as second mistress of the house to protect the family reputation. However, she is only a "second mistress" in name as she is treated like a maid and looked upon with contempt by most of the Huang family. She is accidentally thrown off the second floor of the Huang residence by Jincheng, after Tianlan accidentally stumbles upon his affair with Xiujuan when Xiufeng was away. Tianlan's fall prove fatal and she subsequently died from her injuries.
Guan Xuemei 管雪梅 Tua Kor (大姑 "Big Auntie") Huang Yuan's elder sister and mother of Xiulian, Xiufeng and Xiujuan. Being a very demeaning elder in the Huang family, she often abuses Ah Tao. She was later mentioned by Xiufeng to have passed out after learning that her youngest daughter, Xiujuan, went to bed with a man at a hotel in Singapore. She was no longer seen or mentioned after that, and although it was not mentioned that she died from shock, it was most likely the case that she did after that incident.

First generation

Cast Role Description
Jeanette Aw 欧萱 Huang Juxiang (黄菊香) Daughter of Huang Yuan and Tianlan, mother of Yueniang. Juxiang is beautiful, smart and hard working. Although born into a wealthy Peranakan family, she is treated with scorn and insult because of her mother's humble origins. She becomes a deaf-mute at the age of nine due to an illness caused by her grandmother's death. As a result, she cannot stand up for herself in many cases. She soon falls in love with a Japanese man named Yamamoto Yousuke after running away from an arranged marriage. She marries him and gives birth to a daughter and named her Yueniang. She dies of internal injuries after her husband is killed by Japanese soldiers leaving behind their eight-year-old daughter, Yueniang.
Darren Lim 林明伦 Huang Jincheng (黄金成) Semi-Villain

Son of Huang Yuan and Guihua. He is Meiyu's older brother and Juxiang's half-brother. He loved Xiujuan but is arranged to marry her sister, Xiufeng instead. A failure of a businessman like his father Huang Yuan, his family's dignity and finances suffer as they are ruthlessly manipulated by the Zhangs. Jincheng is often too obsessed with money and too weak to stand up to the Zhangs, such as when his daughter Yuzhu falls mentally ill after having to put up with Robert's abuse. Jincheng dies of a severe heart attack upon learning that his only son Tianbao (Alexandre) is sentenced to death for murdering Chen Sheng, as well as Charlie and Robert Zhang.

Apple Hong 洪乙心 Huang Meiyu (黄美玉) Eldest daughter of the Huang family, younger sister of Jincheng, Juxiang's half-sister and wife of Chen Sheng. Although she loves Chen Sheng very much he does not regard her as his wife for their marriage was an arrangement by his grandmother. As a result, she shows a great sense of hatred towards Juxiang and Yueniang thinking that they were the reasons why her marriage was a total misery. Was devastated after learning of Chen Sheng's death, and she eventually treated Yueniang better after that.
Pan Lingling 潘玲玲 Xiufeng (秀凤) Semi-Villain

Daughter-in-law of Guihua. Married to Jincheng. Elder sister to Xiujuan and the mother of Tianbao, Zhenzhu and Yuzhu. Mistreated Yueniang along with the others by canning her and even leaving her in an old warehouse to die when she was in coma after being rescued from a well. She is later shocked to discover that her husband is having an affair with her sister, Xiujuan. Xiujuan takes revenge on Xiufeng and escapes the Huang household with the Huangs' money. Jincheng and Tian Bao's deaths and her youngest daughter, Yuzhu, becoming mentally unstable has a great impact on her and her health suffered.

Cynthia Koh 许美珍 Xiujuan (秀娟) Younger sister of Xiufeng and Xiulian. Bullies Juxiang when they were teens along with her sister Xiufeng and her cousin Meiyu. She has an affair with Jincheng. When Huang Tianbao is arrested for the murder of Chen Sheng, she plots a scheme to defraud the Huangs of their money, under the pretext of bribing a high-ranking police officer. The plot succeeds, and the Huangs gives her the proceeds from their sale and mortgage of virtually all of their assets. She runs away to Hong Kong after she receives the money. However, she keeps the money in a bank during her years there, where it earns a tidy sum of interest. It is said in the show that she did not touch a cent. She returns the money to the Huangs after many years from guilt.

Second generation

Cast Role Description
Jeanette Aw 欧萱 Yamamoto Yueniang (山本月娘) Younger version portrayed by Christabelle Tan (陈宇萱), older version portrayed by Xiang Yun (向云) - The protagonist of the series, she is the daughter of Juxiang and Yousuke and looks exactly like her mother. Her parents' deaths makes her a strong-willed woman. She is forgiving towards Guihua and her other relatives despite their mistreatment of her and her family. Ah Tao states at the present time that she has been diagnosed with colon cancer but did not want an operation, which implies that the disease is in its terminal stages. It is at this point that she tells Angela that she isn't her biological grandmother.
Andie Chen 陈邦鋆 Huang Tianbao (黄天宝) Villain

The only son of Huang Jincheng and Xiufeng. The eldest sibling among Zhenzhu and Yuzhu. Hoping to be reinstated as deputy general manager of Robert Zhang's business, Tianbao does much of Robert's dirty work, including unsuccessfully attempting to poison Chen Xi and then sending someone to murder Chen Sheng; the latter act which causes him to be disowned by Robert. Yueniang later traces Chen Sheng's murder back to Tianbao and he is imprisoned. However, he escapes and kills both Charlie and Robert Zhang. Offscreen it is told that he was arrested for these murders and given the death sentence.

Eelyn Kok 郭蕙雯 Huang Zhenzhu (黄珍珠) Villain

Eldest daughter of Xiufeng and Jincheng. Sister of Yuzhu, Tianbao and cousin of Yueniang. A secondary antagonist, Zhenzhu is naive and yet manipulative. There were several occasions which revealed that she was not as evil as she seems to be but was greatly influenced by both her aunts, Xiujuan and Meiyu. She witnesses Yuzhu being raped by Robert and tries to save her, but hesitates because of Xiujuan's advice and ultimately does nothing. It is revealed that although she almost tortures Yueniang, she does not want to see Yueniang die and tries to save her after accidentally pushing her into a well. However, her attempt to save Yueniang is stopped by her aunt Meiyu and told Zhenzhu she wanted Yueniang to drown. She is a willful girl who fancies Chen Xi and manages to marry him, but their relationship deteriorates after Chen Xi learns she did nothing to help Yuzhu from being raped. Yueniang remains kind to Zhenzhu despite the ill-will. Her marriage with Chen Xi never recovers and Zhenzhu eventually elopes with a Caucasian man.

Joanne Peh 白薇秀 Huang Yuzhu (黄玉珠) Second daughter of Xiufeng and Jincheng, younger sister of Zhenzhu and Tianbao. She is kind and polite compared to her siblings and the rest of the family. She is also hardworking and willing to learn new things. She often helps Yueniang, her cousin, and Ah Tao out of situations where they would otherwise get into trouble with the family elders. However, having been raped by Robert Zhang, she is forced to marry him, and thereafter suffers marital abuse including being used as a sex slave for Robert's business deals. This gradually drives her insane and Robert continues to neglect her, until she is rescued by Chen Xi and Yueniang. Nonetheless, after giving birth to her and Robert's son Zuye, she is committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life, with Yueniang becoming an adoptive mother to Zuye (who becomes the father of Angela).

Third generation

Cast Role Description
Edsel Lim (林泳勳) Zuye (祖业) elder portrayed by Zen Chong (章缜翔) - Son of Yuzhu and Robert Zhang. Due to Yuzhu's mental condition and Robert's death, he is adopted and raised by Yueniang. Grows up to look exactly like his father. He became a top lawyer and has two sons and a daughter, the latter being Angela.

Fourth generation

Cast Role Description
Felicia Chin 陈靓瑄 Angel (安琦) A university student in Canada. Originally considered to be the biological granddaughter of Yueniang, it is revealed at the end that she is the biological granddaughter of Robert Zhang and Yuzhu, as Yueniang adopts her father (Zuye) due to Yuzhu's mental illness. Before the series, in the present-day storyline, she has an unlucky run in romance. She decides to briefly return to Malacca, where she learns about her adoptive grandmother's bitter and dramatic past.

Chen family


Cast Role Description
Li Yinzhu (李茵珠) Madame Chen (陈老太) Chen Xi's great-grandmother (Chor Chor), Chen Sheng's grandmother (Ma Ma). Likes to eat rempah udang very much. She places great emphasis on women's ability to cook Peranakan dishes and sew beaded shoes. She is one of the few people who trusts Yueniang. Juxiang's grandmother is one of Madame Chen's bosom friends.

First generation

Cast Role Description
Chen Xiang (陈翔) Chen Gong (陈功) The eldest grandson of Madame Chen, frequently comes into conflict with the Zhang family.
Yang Yanqing (杨艳清) Xiulian (秀莲) Elder sister of Xiufeng and Xiujuan, married to Chen Gong, and mother of Chen Xi.
Pierre Png (方展发) Chen Sheng (陈盛)

Married to Meiyu, Juxiang's half-sister, but harbours love for Juxiang. He disrespects Meiyu and is very rude to her after they got married. For instance, he said Meiyu's cooking tastes horrible and there was another incident when he tricked Meiyu to lie on the bed to make love but went out for a walk. After losing Juxiang, he drowns his sorrows by spending his free time drinking as well as singing and dancing pantun with young women, and even contributing to help Charlie Zhang's disowned brother Tianfu fight against Charlie's family for the Zhang's ancestral house. Chen Sheng is later murdered on Huang Tianbao's orders, who believed that it is what Robert Zhang wants.

Second generation

Cast Role Description
Qi Yuwu (戚玉武) Chen Xi (陈锡) Son of Chen Gong and Xiulian. So named because on the day of his birth, his family signed a lucrative tin contract. He is the only child in his family. Having been educated in the UK, he is more liberal than his conservative family. Although he wants to marry Yueniang, his family arranged him to marry her cousin, Zhenzhu instead. After he thinks Yueniang perishes in the fire Robert Zhang set up, he later marries Libby, his UK classmate, and has six children. His career is very successful and he contributes to charity frequently.

Zhang family

Cast Role Description
Desmond Sim (沈金兴) Charlie Zhang (查里张) Main Villain

A Baba who returned from the United Kingdom, his general disapproval of the Peranakan culture earns him scorn from the older generations of high Peranakan society. He has affairs with many women, especially paying money to bed virgin girls, and makes use of his wealth and status to collaborate with the Japanese. He had some influence behind the deaths of Yousuke and Juxiang. He is killed by a headshot during a scuffle between his son Robert and Huang Tianbao, when a pistol accidentally fired off.

Henry Heng (王利秦) Zhang Tianfu (张添福) - A Baba pantun master who is the disowned elder brother of Charlie Zhang, and a friend to Chen Sheng. He fought with his brother over the Zhang's ancestral home that was left behind by their ancestors as Charlie Zhang's family intended to make fortune from demolishing it, thus receiving support from Chen Sheng.
Zen Chong (章缜翔) Robert Zhang (罗伯张) Main Villain

Son of Charlie Zhang. A cunning one like his father, he looks on the Huang family with contempt and ruthlessly exploits their dire financial situation, and even raped Yuzhu thinking that she was Yueniang. This incident forced him to marry Yuzhu, whom he regularly abuses and even used as a "sex slave" in his business deals. Robert also has a long running rivalry with Chen Xi. Emerging as the chief antagonist as the series progresses, he sets a burning trap for Chen Xi and Yueniang when they try to free Yuzhu. Robert is killed by Huang Tianbao, whom he had taken advantage of.

Other characters

Cast Role Description
Ng Hui (黄慧) Ah Tao (阿桃) Elder version portrayed by Zhu Xiufeng (朱秀凤)) - An amah for the Huang family. Originally a personal servant of Huang Yuan's elder sister, Tua Kor (who abuses her heavily), she is bought by Tian Lan, and becomes her kitchen helper. She is loyal to Juxiang and Yueniang, and serves Yueniang even till the present day. Her right leg is broken by Guihua for being the bridesmaid during Juxiang and Yousuke's marriage at the beginning of the show.
Dai Yangtian (戴阳天) Yamamoto Yousuke[2] (山本洋介) An ethnic Japanese, he is very interested in Peranakan culture. In order to protect Juxiang from the philandering Charlie Zhang, he marries her. Yousuke is murdered by invading soldiers when Singapore falls to Japanese forces. It is implied that Charlie Zhang has a role in his murder.
Yao Wenlong (姚玟隆) Liu Yidao (劉一刀) A butcher who has an arranged marriage with Yueniang, but later accepts her as his sworn sister. He and his brotherhood later assist Yueniang with her business. At the advice of Yueniang, Yidao gives up his bullying and violent ways, in favour of a more civilized lifestyle.
Pamelyn Chee (齐騛) Libby (丽贝儿) A woman who is more liberal than social norms at the time, she was Chen Xi's classmate from the UK. She eventually marries him, and has six children.
Nat Ho (鹤天赐) Jonathan Li Xiuwen (李修文) A native of Hong Kong who grows up in Canada. He falls in love with his university schoolmate, Angela, and follows her from Canada to Malacca. Because of Yueniang's dramatic past, he decides to write a story about her life and will not leave Malacca until it is finished.
Li Yuejie (李岳杰) Da Sha (大傻, lit. "The Big Silly [person]", ) A simpleton who saves Yueniang's life when she is in a coma after being rescued from a well. Pioneer of the bird's nest dish and helps Yueniang with her business.
Bobby Tonelli Paul A British lawyer who is originally hired by Robert Zhang, but eventually helps the Chens in a lawsuit. He later marries Yueniang. The couple have no children of their own, as Yueniang has 2 miscarriages.
Jeszlene Zhou Jinhua (金花 ) Also an Amah for the Huang family. Often bullies Yueniang along with Zhenzhu. Fell asleep while watching Yueniang, indirectly contributing to Yuzhu being raped.
Peer Metze Smith A British friend of Robert Zhang. He slept with Yuzhu after Robert Zhang drugged her.
Chua Cheng Pou Hei Gou Villain

Friend of Liu Yidao who betrayed him and used his butcher knife to kill Chen Sheng. Was arrested and probably given death sentence.

Development and production

Sites of the Pinang Peranakan Mansion were used in the drama
Sites of the Pinang Peranakan Mansion were used in the drama

The Little Nyonya took a year of research and four months to film.[3] More than 150 staff members were involved in production of the series and the cast was required to travel frequently from Singapore to Penang, Malacca and Ipoh during filming. The Little Nyonya was notable for having the highest production budget in the history of MediaCorp due to the elaborate period costumes. A pair of beaded shoes traversed over a cost of SGD$1200, while a dining table acquired for the set cost $15000.

Rumours indicate that the role of Xiufeng was initially offered to May Phua, who turned the offer down due to her pregnancy at the time of filming. Huang Biren was said to be a prime candidate for the role of Tian Lan, although the actress' decision not to renew her contract with MediaCorp ultimately resulted in Xiang Yun obtaining the part. It was also rumoured that Zoe Tay had expressed interest in portraying a role in the series, although there were no suitable roles for her. Andrew Seow was first choice to play Robert Zhang but he declined due to scheduling conflicts and the role went to Zzen Zhang.

The series initially received a 30-episode order, although over-runs in filming led the series to be extended to 34 episodes instead. Possibly as a result, two episodes were aired on Mondays from December 15, 2008 till the conclusion of the series.


Promotion for The Little Nyonya lasted throughout the initial broadcast of the series as well after the series ended. Twelve members of the cast participated in "The Little Nyonya Public Event" 小娘惹户外影迷会 at Compass Point on December 27, 2008, which included an autograph session. An estimated 5000 people were present during the event. 100 posters were given out to members of the audience. The unprecedented number of appearances resulted in damage of the flooring at Compass Point. Certain tiles on the floor cracked under the pressure exerted by the crowd.[4][5][6][7]

Due to the overwhelming response of the initial public event, a "Thank You Roadshow" was held at Suntec City on January 31, where fans were allowed to take photographs with the cast and then shake hands. It featured several cast members from the first event as well as Olivia Ong, who recorded the theme song of the series.

Minor roadshows were held at various locations between January and April 2009. On January 17, Jeanette Aw and Xiang Yun promoted bird nest at Tiong Bahru Plaza, while Qi Yuwu and Joanne Peh appeared at Courts Megastore along Tampines Road. Qi and Peh later appeared in character as part of the official launch for Media Fiesta at Marina Square on March 5. On April 26, Aw and Pierre Png made an appearance at the first anniversary of the Singapore Peranakan Museum shortly before leaving to attend the Star Awards.

Chinese New Year Special

In response the tremendous support to the show, the producers filmed a one-hour special, showcasing the stars enjoying a special Nyonya's reunion dinner, "The Little Nyonya's Big Reunion" (Chinese: 小娘惹大团圆), which was aired on day one of the Lunar New Year (26 January 2009) at 7 pm. It was hosted by Dasmond Koh and featured Yan Bingliang, Lin Meijiao, Pan Lingling, Darren Lim, Li Yinzhu, Cynthia Koh, Eelyn Kok, Andie Chen, Joanne Peh, Zzen Zhang, Dai Yangtian, Jeanette Aw, Xiang Yun, Pierre Png, Qi Yuwu, Ng Hui and Yao Wenlong. The cast talked about the filming experiences and about the unexplained fates of characters that were not mentioned in the finale. Unaired blooper clips and behind-the-scenes shots were also shown. The special also had a special re-run on February 8, 2009 (day 14 of the New Year) at 9 pm.

Home media release

The series was released by MediaCorp a 2-volume DVD boxset. The first volume, which contained the first 12 episodes of The Little Nyonya was released to stores on January 6, 2009. The remaining episodes were compiled in the second volume and released two weeks later.[8] The boxset contains no special features, although it is accompanied by a booklet which provides descriptions of the major characters in the show, as well as a family tree.

Commercial performance

The Little Nyonya achieved extremely high ratings during its initial run, with an average of 993 000 viewers[9] per episode and peaking at 1.67 million viewers on the final episode.[8] In addition, the series achieved the highest viewership rating in Singapore in 14 years.

Viewership for The Little Nyonya steadily increased throughout its run. Its first episode garnered an estimated 1.098 million viewers, which equates to 20.3% of the country's population. On Episode 11, the show rating increased to 23.6%. The 15th and 16th episodes, both broadcast back-to-back, was watched by 24.1% of the country's population. The rating increased by 2.2% a week later, and further increased to 27.8% by the 27th and 28th episodes. The viewership peaked at 33.8% on the final two episodes, also broadcast back-to-back.

Critical response

The Little Nyonya has been critically acclaimed. However, despite being lauded as a drama that provides an insight into the unique Peranakan culture, the show has received criticism in local media over portrayals and promotion. Issues that were raised early included the castings of Pan Lingling and Cynthia Koh to portray teenage girls albeit being already in their thirties. This issue was counter-argued by being tantamount to ageism, as well as the fact that it was raised only three episodes after the show began airing.[10] The character development of Xiufeng has come under fire due to the character's exhibitions of violence.

Criticism was also leveled at MediaCorp's bias towards Jeanette Aw. Many viewers saw The Little Nyonya as a television series conceived as a launching vehicle for Aw's career in television and to secure an award at the next Star Awards. Several viewers also believe that the producers intentionally wrote Aw's first role as a mute in attempt to conceal her imperfect delivery of Mandarin.[11] In response, producers have lauded Aw's work, saying that she performed in a professional manner. Despite this, Aw's portrayal of Juxiang and Yueniang has been praised by members of the audience.[12]

Mass publicity for The Little Nyonya began two months before the show premiered – it had also received criticism from the public. Within MediaCorp, there are also some misgivings in regards to the over-promotion this show has received. The cast of the long-running drama Love Blossoms have privately lamented that the show, which used to receive tremendous amounts of advertising support from MediaCorp, is being neglected in favour of The Little Nyonya.[13]

As many of the Peranakan characters in the series (such as most of the Huang family, as well as Charlie Zhang and son Robert) are antagonists (Jincheng, Xiufeng and Huangyuan are part-time antagonists), many viewers think that the series will negatively stereotype Peranakans as being ruthless. In response, the show's writer, Ang Eng Tee, said that ruthlessness and petty politicking, which are basic human interactions, appears within any culture, and is not an exclusive trait of the Peranakans.[12]

Due to the usage of dramatic license, the series also contains a significant number of historical inaccuracies, particularly in the first few episodes involving Juxiang's life and Yueniang's childhood. Notable examples include the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1932 (as opposed to 1937) and the first air raid on Singapore (8 December 1941) occurring in broad daylight (which took place at night in reality).

The Little Nyonya: The Final Chapter

The scriptwriter of the series, Ang Eng Tee (also known as Hong Rongdi 洪荣狄), plotted five endings for the series, four of which would involve Yueniang and Chen Xi reuniting and living happily ever after.[14]

The ending used in the series was criticised by fans to be too sad and abrupt. The response also prompted Ang to say that had he know that viewers would react as such, he would have Yueniang and Chen Xi reunite, for TV dramas are, in his words, made for viewers.[3] In response to the criticisms, MediaCorp decided to make an alternate ending, which was aired on 11 January 2009 at 9:55 pm. The ending, titled "The Little Nyonya: The Final Chapter" (小娘惹之月娘与陈锡重逢篇, literally: "The Little Nyonya: The Chapter of Yueniang and Chen Xi Reuniting), lasted for three minutes. According to producers, the script for the alternate ending was finalised on 8 January, and filming was completed on the following day.[15]

Although it was rumoured that the ending would reunite Yueniang and Chen Xi, and have them living happily ever after, the new ending merely had Yueniang and Chen Xi tell each other why they could not be together. Yueniang and Chen Xi ended up separated, just as it was in the original ending. This drew heavy criticism from viewers, who told local newspapers that they felt they were being cheated.[16] In response, MediaCorp said that this was not an "alternate ending", as some have suggested. Rather, it is a special presentation to show the station's appreciation to the fans of the series.[16]

Awards and nominations

This drama was seen as an extremely strong contender in the Star Awards 2009, held on 26 April 2009, minting a new record of having 16 nominations in the acting category, surpassing former record holder's Holland V (which got nine) until it was topped by the first season of The Dream Makers in 2014, which have 21. The series became the biggest winner for the ceremony, taking home nine awards including the Drama Serial and the Top Viewership Drama Serial of 2008 (tying with the first season of The Dream Makers later in 2014); it was at the time the series won the most awards in a Star Awards ceremony until in the 2016 ceremony, the record was superseded by the second season of The Dream Makers, which received 26 nominations, and won 12.

The spin-off series, The Little Nyonya Reunion Special, and the promotional ad for the encore telecast for the series, were respectively nominated for Star Awards 2010 and Star Awards 2011, with the latter clinching the award.

On total, the entire Little Nyonya franchise won a combined 11 awards from four award ceremonies.

Star Awards 2009

Accolades Award Nominee Result
Star Awards 2009 (Backstage Achievement)
Young Talent Award
Christabelle Tan
Best Director 最佳导演 Chia Mien Yang Won
Chong Liung Man Won
Best Screenplay 最佳剧本 Ang Eng Tee Won
Best Set Design 最佳戏剧布景设计 Ho Hock Choon Won
Best Theme Song 最佳主题曲 《如燕》 by Olivia Ong Won
Accolades Award Nominee Result
Star Awards 2009 (Main Show)
Best Actor
Qi Yuwu
Pierre Png
Best Actress
Jeanette Aw
Joanne Peh
Best Supporting Actor 最佳男配角 Dai Xiangyu 戴向宇 Nominated
Darren Lim 林明倫 Nominated
Yao Wenlong 姚彣隆 Nominated
Zen Chong 章证翔 Nominated
Best Supporting Actress
Eelyn Kok
Li Yinzhu
Lin Meijiao
Ng Hui
Xiang Yun
Best Drama Serial 最佳电视剧 N/A Won
Top 10 Highest Viewership Local Dramas in 2008 Award
N/A Won

2009 Asian Television Awards

Award Nominee Result
Best Actor Qi Yuwu Nominated
Pierre Png Nominated
Best Actress Joanne Peh Nominated
Best Drama Series The Little Nyonya Won
(Joint winner)

Star Awards 2010

Accolades Award Nominee Result
Star Awards 2010 (Show 2)
Best Variety Special
The Little Nyonya Reunion Special

Star Awards 2011

Accolades Award Nominee Result
Star Awards 2011 (Show 1)
红星大奖2011 银光闪耀
Best Promotional Video
Danny Loh Boon Kiat


The Little Nyonya has had notable cultural impact in Singaporean media. It was notably parodied in the variety show, Black Rose. In the episode when the encore started its debut, Chen Hanwei played Liu Yidao (留一刀) and Dennis Chew portrayed Yamamoto Yue Niang (山本月娘). It was also used in the skit segment of Star Search 2010 Grand Finals in which contestants played Liu Yidao, Yuzhu, Ah Tao and Robert Zhang.

In an interview with Lianhe Wanbao, the series' scriptwriter, Ang Eng Tee, said that if the demand exists, he will write a special presentation, or even a sequel to the series. Ideas for a possible sequel or special presentation have already been drafted by Ang, one of which would have Angela receiving a secret wooden box from Ah Tao, before Angela returns to Singapore. The box was owned by Yueniang, and Ah Tao defied her orders to burn the contents before Yueniang died. The box contained details on Yueniang and Chen Xi's relationship, in addition to a letter from Libby, telling Yueniang that Chen Xi and Libby did not get married after all.[16] However, it was noted that production sequels have been much frowned upon by producers, and owing to the high production costs, a sequel seems to be very unlikely, but another drama in 2010 Unriddle is having a sequel to the original in 2012.

The Peranakan Ball

On May 16, 2009, Jeanette Aw and Dai Yangtian starred in a musical called The Peranakan Ball (Chinese: 娘惹之恋). The musical is based on the story of Cinderella and it stars Jeanette Aw as Bee Tin, a Nyonya servant in a wealthy Peranakan household, and unrelated to the television series, even though the concept was clearly derived from the drama.[17]

Pretty Maid

While not promoted as such, and the program was produced by a different television station, many Singaporeans who watched the series Pretty Maid [zh] believe it copies the main plot of The Little Nyonya. Pretty Maid was produced by Yu Zheng and broadcast by Hunan Broadcasting System in China.[18] On May 6, Pretty Maid's writer Li Yaling (李亚玲) claimed that Yu Zheng indeed plagiarized from The Little Nyonya.[19] She claimed that Yu Zheng once told her that as long as plagiarism does not exceed 20% then the courts would have no case. Another writer Zou Yue (邹越) also claimed to have heard the "20% rule" from Yu Zheng.[19][20]

The Little Nyonya 2020 remake

In October 2018, it was announced that a Chinese remake of the show was in the works and would be aired on Chinese online video platform, iQiyi[21] initially slated for 2019,[22] but now in 2020.[23] It is a joint production between iQiyi, Changxin Pictures and Singapore-based G.H.Y Culture & Media and will star Xiao Yan, Kou Chia-Jui, Yue Lina, He Yuhong, Darren Chiu, Dai Xiangyu, Xiang Yun, Jeffrey Xu and Fang Cheng Cheng as the main leads. Additionally, Dai, who played Yamamoto Yousuke in the original series, is reprising as the same role in the remake series.[24][25] A mixture of Malaysian, Singaporean, and Chinese actors from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Canada were cast as the other major and minor characters in the remake.

The remake's plot was generally reminiscent of the original's, though there are a few changes made to the plot, with some filling the plot holes of the original. The significant changes are that in the ending, both Yueniang and Chen Xi are reunited six years after Yueniang's presumed death, and happily married; Yu Zhu's mental condition improved and she reunited with the Huang family after her recovery; the adopted son of Robert Zhang and Yu Zhu was named Huang Cien (黄慈恩) instead of Zuye (祖业), following his mother's surname while subsequently allowing his own descendants to adopt the surname Chen (Chen Xi's surname); and that both Libby and Paul are engaged to different people. Another hidden ending (albeit speculated) is that both Chen Xi and Yueniang have one daughter together, and the daughter was subsequently married to Cien and have children with one another.[26]

Other changes were made to the fates of some characters: Huang Tianbao; instead of being sentenced to death, was shot and killed by police after attempting to kill Chen Gong and Chen Xi, whom he took hostage for ransom, Huang Zhenzhu; who lost all her money to her Caucasian lover whom she eloped with, and feeling too ashamed to see her family, she became a prostitute who entertain British customers and subsequently died in a car accident, Charlie Zhang; who died protecting his son from being shot by Tianbao, and Robert Zhang; who was not killed by Tianbao but fell to his death while trying to escape from Tianbao. Unlike the original series, the whole remake series was narrated by Yueniang's granddaughter instead of Yueniang herself to her granddaughter, as her granddaughter did not appear in the remake.

Singapore would eventually air the remake which premiered on January 5, 2021 at 11pm. The series finale aired on March 10, 2021.

Other series references

  • The series title was mentioned by Somaline Ang in episode 81 of 118.
  • The scene where Yuzhu (Joanne Peh) is eating the bugs in the hut after being driven insane is mentioned by Dennis Chew in episode 122 of 118.
  • The store opened by the Hong family in The Journey: Our Homeland is named Little Nyonya/小娘惹. Both English and Chinese names of the store are references to the series' title. Although it maybe coincidental, the first series of The Journey, The Journey: A Voyage, has an antagonist named Charlie Zhang, which has the same name and the same background (educated in Britain) as the main antagonist of The Little Nyonya.

International release history

The drama serial was broadcast overseas, mostly in the Asian region.

Country of Broadcast Broadcasting Network Release Date
 Malaysia Astro Shuang Xing, Astro AEC February 2, 2009[27]
 Malaysia NTV7 October 26, 2009
 Cambodia PPCTV Drama 9 March 29, 2009
 France MIPTV March 31, 2009
 Philippines Associated Broadcasting Company(TV5) August 24, 2009
 Myanmar MRTV September 5, 2009
 United States Tai Seng Entertainment Channel (broadcast on DirecTV) December 1, 2009
 Vietnam Vietnam Television August 12, 2010
 China (Shanghai) TBA 2009
 China (run across China via satellite) TBA January 16, 2010 [28]
 Thailand Thai Public Broadcasting Service January 20, 2010
 Hong Kong TVB PayVision April 26, 2010

In Indonesia, aired on B Channel starts July 2011. The series was originally scheduled to air in Malaysia in mid-January, but was later delayed to February. The series was also aired by TV stations in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Mainland China.[29]

On 1 December 2009, Tai Seng Entertainment Channel, an ethnic Chinese entertainment channel on DirecTV, became the first non-Asian station to air The Little Nyonya. It is also the first station to air the series with Cantonese dubbing.

Hong Kong broadcaster TVB purchased the rights to telecast the series in April 2009,[30] and aired the series a year later, in late April 2010. Like the US, the series has also been Cantonese-dubbed.

The series was promoted at the MIPTV Television Trade Show in Cannes, France near the end of March 2009. Qi Yuwu and Jeannette Aw were also in Cannes to promote the series at MIPTV.[31]

See also


  1. ^ "The Little Nyonya goes global in local TV tie-up with Netflix". Archived from the original on 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  2. ^ Shown in subtitles on the first episode as "Eguchi Yosuke", which changes the name to "江口洋介".
  3. ^ a b Lee, Jocelyn; Jasmine Teo (7 January 2009). "Where's the happy ending?". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
  4. ^ pangizes (2009-01-02). "the little nyonya roadshow (27 dec)". Blogspot. Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  5. ^ wubingyu (2009-01-08). ""The Little Nonya" Road Show and Meet-the-Fans Session". Blogspot. Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  6. ^ Channel NewsAsia (2008-12-27). "Thousands turn up at "Little Nyonya" roadshow". Jeanette Aw. Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  7. ^ The Little Nyonya (2008-12-29). "The Little Nyonya Roadshow ~ 27 Dec 2008". The Little Nyonya's Facebook Page. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  8. ^ a b "Catch The Little Nyonya again on DVD". MediaCorp TV. 7 January 2009. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  9. ^ Frois, Cheryl (31 December 2008). "MediaCorp Ch8's "The Little Nyonya" is highest rated series in 15 years". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  10. ^ "潘玲玲《小娘惹》演少女 观众嫌老". Lianhe Wanbao. 28 November 2008. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  11. ^ 安排欧萱演哑巴 《小娘惹》剧组刻意‘藏拙’. (in Chinese). Lianhe Wanbao. 29 November 2008. Archived from the original on 15 February 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  12. ^ a b 《小娘惹》收视报捷 不合理内容惹观众批评 (in Chinese). Lianhe Wanbao (carried on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  13. ^ "长寿剧vs台庆剧: 《小娘惹》宣传过猛 《心花朵朵2》被冷落" (in Chinese). Shin Min Daily News (carried on 3 December 2008. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  14. ^ "How should it have ended?". The Straits Times. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-12.[dead link]
  15. ^ Lim, Cheryl (10 January 2009). ""The Little Nyonya: The Final Chapter" to air on Channel 8 this Sunday". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  16. ^ a b c Zhong, Yanling (12 January 2009). 《小娘惹》重逢版被轰是垃圾 (in Chinese). Lianhe Wanbao. Archived from the original on 2009-01-19. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
  17. ^ CNA, CNA (1 May 2009). """The Peranakan Ball" musical set for May 16". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  18. ^ "大丫環抄襲小娘惹?". 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  19. ^ a b 琼瑶诉于正抄袭 编剧李亚玲:愿协助作证 (in Chinese). 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-09-07.
  20. ^ (in Chinese) 于正,他们忍你很久了 Archived 2014-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "The Little Nyonya". iQIYI.
  22. ^ "Xiang Yun, Dai Xiang Yu and Jeffrey Xu star in remake of 'The Little Nyonya'". Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  23. ^ "长信传媒年度大剧《小娘惹》 有望2020年初盛大播映". 长信传媒. 2019-12-02. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  24. ^ "Former Ch 8 Actor Dai Xiangyu Is Starring In The Little Nyonya Remake". 8 Days. October 11, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  25. ^ (in Chinese)"10年后重拍 新《小娘惹》主角换中台演员". Lianhe Zaobao. October 11, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  26. ^ "原创 《小娘惹》隐藏大结局:月娘陈锡生下女儿,与玉珠儿子喜结良缘". Sohu (in Chinese). 14 July 2020. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Little Nyonya 小娘惹". Astro. 19 March 2009. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  28. ^ "Little Nyonya 小娘惹". 16 January 2010. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  29. ^ "Over 5,000 sets of "The Little Nyonya" DVDs sold". Channel New Asia. 13 March 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  30. ^ "The Little Nyonya' Goes Hong Kong! 『小娘惹』漂洋過海到香港!". Media Crop. 13 March 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-03-11. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  31. ^ ""The Little Nyonya" to be sold at television trade show in Cannes". Archived from the original on 2009-03-22. Retrieved 2009-03-21.

External links

Preceded by
Star Awards for Best Drama Serial
The Little Nyonya
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 28 March 2021, at 05:57
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