How Lee Ka-ting Helped Talk TVB into Signing Ray Lui

Ray Lui (呂良偉) may be one of the biggest stars of 1980’s Hong Kong television, but like all flowers that bloom, success doesn’t just spontaneously appear. The 61-year-old The Bund <上海灘> star shared that it was Lee Ka-ting (李家鼎) who had pushed TVB into signing a contract with him back in the late 1970’s, and Ray is extremely grateful to the veteran star.

“Without him, there wouldn’t be me today,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this industry. It was all thanks to him that I’ve become an actor.”

Ray joined TVB in 1977 and made his debut as a student in TVB’s 6th artiste training class. His classmates included Idy Chan (陳玉蓮) and Liu Wai-hung (廖偉雄). Failing to stand out amongst his peers in a rising TV industry, TVB had no interest in signing Ray. Rumor has it that Lee Ka-ting rushed into the TVB executives’ office, slammed their tables, and demanded them to sign Ray as their talent.

“Master Ting didn’t slam the tables, but he did help me fight for [a contract],” said Ray. “He was our lion dancing class teacher, and is also my sifu. I was the class’s representative. He told [TVB executives] that I was his student representing the class to take the test, so how is it possible that someone like me can’t get a contract? He then told them he’ll sign me as a lion dancer instead. At the time, lion dancers were paid HK$150 a day, while artistes were only paid HK$80. That’s when TVB decided to sign me.”

Ray is extremely thankful for Lee Ka-ting’s help in pushing him into this industry. “It was all thanks to him that I’ve become an actor. Master Ting is also a walking encyclopedia. He’s taught me many things.”

Ray says he has many people to thank, including filmmaker Johnny Mak (麥當雄) and senior actress Lee Heung-kam (李香琴). “I should release a book to thank everyone. Maybe I’ll also use that opportunity to reminisce the past. I’ll think about it.”

As an actor who made his debut through TVB’s artiste training class, Ray started off with small, insignificant roles before finding stardom. He feels that Hong Kong’s current acting industry isn’t as bright as it was before. “The industry’s definitely gotten smaller. The environment has changed, and I feel a lot of this industry has moved onto mainland China. I’m always thinking about how I could help those up-and-coming young actors who want to join the industry.”

Ray’s last TVB drama was 2009’s Born Rich <富貴門>. What would it take for Ray to make a TVB comeback? “The script comes first,” he said. “Nothing is more important than that. Money actually comes second. We can’t always look at money when it comes to these things. The Hong Kong audiences and I have grown up together, and we’re connected. If TVB needs me, and they have a good script prepared, I would love to come back.” Has TVB approached you for an upcoming project? “Virginia Lok (樂易玲) and I have talked, but right now everything is at its planning stage.”


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Ray Lui.What a legend! Only requires one classic to become a TVB legend, though Flying Fox is his next best. I’m sure he is extremely cautious of another comeback since the last one ‘Born Rich’ was a flop. A good initial plot but the script turned out to be terrible with annoying character. Apparently, the lead actors tried to step in to improve the script but got arrogantly denied.

    1. @jimmyszeto Ray is indeed legendary and was in so many great series back in the day! In addition to his roles in The Bund and Flying Fox, another favorite is The Good Old Times from 1981 (which reunited Chow Yun Fat with two of his most famous onscreen partners — Ray Lui and Dodo Cheng…absolutely “dream team” collaboration in my book!!!). In terms of villain roles, his performance in 1988’s And Yet We Live opposite Alex Man is the most classic as far as I’m concerned.

      Yea, Born Rich was so horrible, even the excellent cast couldn’t save it. As always, I prefer that the veteran artists don’t come back merely to do a “favor”for TVB…if the script is crap, then don’t bother returning and allowing TVB to negatively impact their careers.

      1. @llwy12
        Yes.The Good Old Times. I’ve seen a rerun a while ago. Another gangland epic if I remember correctly. Also, And Yet We Live where Ray Lui plays the villain. One of my fav Alex Man classics.

        As for Born Rich. It was brutal on how badly it failed. The plot although used many times before wasn’t the problem. There were a lot of annoying support actor/actresses, all four main leads (Ray, Gallen,Kenix, Jaime were written to be very unlikable characters). The script was crap and boring and went downhill rapidly. Nancy Sit and Angelina Lo should never be anywhere near grand productions. They should be stuck on sitcoms. When compared Born Rich with the likes of well written classic ‘At the Threshold of An Era’, it is a real embarrassment. I’m sure Ray Lui will be very reluctant to come back to TVB after the experience of the Born Rich epic failure…

      2. @jimmyszeto Yes, The Good Old Times was a gangland epic…it’s one of my favorite TVB series of all time and also the first TVB series I had ever watched so it will always hold a special place in my heart (though yes, part of my love for the series also has to do with it being one of Chow Yun Fat and DoDo Cheng’s last collaborations as onscreen couple on television — I’m obviously a huge fan of their pairing, lol). But aside from my personal preferences, that series was just so well-made all around — from cast to script to overall production value, it’s one of those series that we’ll never get the chance to see again from TVB.

        Absolutely agree about Born Rich. To be honest though, I had also thought that Gallen Lo wouldn’t want to return for a series after the epic fail of Born Rich, but look what ended up happening (he returned for The Provocateur). And don’t forget that Ray Lui DID attend TVB’s Anniversary Gala along with Simon Yam (and both were given some “fake” award as a means of “encouragement” to attend). During the earlier promotion of his latest movie, Simon Yam did mention that he is interested in filming another series for TVB and has been in talks with management, but is still waiting for the right script to come along. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ray Lui was in the same boat as well (though, as I always do, I cringe at the thought of any veteran artists returning to TVB to film what is pretty much guaranteed to be crap …)

      3. @llwy12
        Yes. Probably what looks like decent plots and characters which entices them back then the script turns out to be a load of crap. Also, an element of surprise for the veteran when he arrives at the station is that he will have to carry or babysit actors/actresses such Tony Hung, Fred Cheng, Grace Chan etr. I’m sure he will be secretly ecstatic with this arrangement……

      4. @llwy12 it was such a poor series. i actually sat through it due to the stars in it. That was around the time I start noticing Gallen seems to be always in poor tvb series.

  2. Ray looks so good. In fact he looks better now than when he was younger lo. Got a certain maturity

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