Charmaine Sheh Snags Lead Female Role in Yu Zheng’s “Winter Begonia”

After stunning the nation with his 2018 Qing Dynasty drama The Story of Yanxi Palace <延禧攻略>, Yu Zheng (于正) is back with a new project, this time adapted from the Chinese novel Winter Begonia <鬓边不是海棠>, a story about a revolutionary and a Peking opera star during 1940’s Republican-era China.

The drama stars Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明) as Cheng Fengtai, a businessman, and Yin Zheng (尹正) as Shang Xirui, a cross-dressing Peking opera performer and Cheng’s close confidante.

The cast was kept in tight wraps, and when production started last month, only Huang Xiaoming and Yin Zheng were confirmed. Today, the production studio released a series of new shots, revealing Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼) to be the female lead, playing as Cheng’s wife.

In one of the photos, both Huang Xiaoming and Charmaine looked at each other longing; Huang Xiaoming’s look is reminiscent of China’s 2007 adaptation of The Bund <上海滩>, in which he starred as Hui Man-keung.

The original novel did not have a female lead, and was a gay romance. To bypass restrictions, Yu Zheng added Charmaine’s role. Charmaine previously worked with Yu Zheng for The Story of Yanxi Palace.


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Happy that she’s getting these opportunities in China. TVB dramas’ standards have been deteriorating, so I guess China’s productions which have higher standards suit her more since she’s already very successful and she can reach new heights in her career

  2. Lol I don’t see the longing from Charmaine in that photo. She looks like she’s glaring at HXM.

    Well I hope she gets a meaty role in here, as her original part wasn’t meant to be included. Which means they’re adding her in here based off their own interpretations. And things can go awry whenever Chinese writers decide to add a character of their own imaginations.

  3. It’s a shame that the censorship changed the romance from a gay romance to a typical heterosexual one. I would think that loses a lot of the character’s depth.

  4. Really liked Charmaine in her TVB days but man, her performance in Yanxi Palace was so overrated. I actually felt she was the weakest actress in the whole thing. Think I can give this one a miss since Huang Xiaoming is a pretty rubbish actor himself.

    1. @anoninhk lol i thought charmaine was overrated in yanxi, too. everyone else seems to think she was the bee’s knees in there. not my favorite role of hers.

      1. @coralie
        Charmaine was the biggest name in Yanxi though so if the series was to do well, she was always gain massively from it. Obviously now the rest of the cast have caught up to her in fame. It only takes one bit hit to push to the top in China. Examples of overated HK actors- Hawick Lau, Samuel Chan, Kevin Cheng. Those wouldn’t be able to outperform Wayne Lai if they came back to Hong Kong though Kevin was good in his last HK series…

      2. @jimmyszeto agreed that charmaine was the draw. but she wasn’t the main propellant as to why it was so successful. charmaine starred in other mainland dramas too, but they weren’t even a quarter as successful as yanxi. so there are other factors at play here.

      3. @coralie “other factors” being the engaging plot, and strong cast ensemble (aside from Xu Cai, who was quite weak imo, but I guess his face made up for it in the eyes of the general audience).

        Charmaine’s acting only stood out to me towards the very end.

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