Introducing TVB’s “Deep in the Realm of Conscience”

TVB is back with another big period drama production nearly 10 years after the original hit.

2009’s Beyond the Realm of Conscience <宮心計>, which starred Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), Tavia Yeung (楊怡), Moses Chan (陳豪), and Kevin Cheng (鄭嘉穎) was a record-breaking hit when it aired in Hong Kong and throughout Asia, putting the lead stars back on the map. Its producer Mui Siu-ching (梅小青) is now back with Beyond’s sister production Deep in the Realm of Conscience <宮心計2深宮計>, which is set to premiere on May 21, 2018.

Deep in the Realm of Conscience is set during the reign Li Longji, also the Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty. It stars Steven Ma (馬浚偉) as the emperor, who is dealing with a power struggle with his aunt Princess Taiping, portrayed by Alice Chan (陳煒). The Emperor has always been in love with his wife Empress Wong, portrayed by Nancy Wu (胡定欣), but circumstances tear them apart. Director Ben Fong (方俊華) praised Nancy for her professionalism while filming the show, saying, “There was a scene where she had to cry, but because we had to use other cameras, she had to hold her tears for a good six to seven minutes. Once we shouted ‘roll camera’, she cried out just like that. No wonder she is TV Queen.”

In her first TVB drama Chrissie Chau (周秀娜), who would not appear until episode 18, plays Consort Cheng. Under Taiping’s orders, Consort Cheng tries to depose Wong from power by winning Xuanzong’s favor.

On the other side of the spectrum is the touching love story between General Yam, played by Kenneth Ma (馬國明), and the court maiden Kam Yeuk-chin, played by Jacqueline Wong (黃心穎). Yam was originally in love with Wong and is also her personal guard, but he eventually falls in love with Yeuk-chin’s kind heart. Producer Mui Siu-ching called Jacqueline “the next Linda Chung”, describing, “She plays a very adorable character. She wants to find true love and she’s not shy about it.”

Another side of the coin centers on Annie Liu’s (劉心悠) character, Yuen-yuet. Similar to Charmaine’s character “Sam-ho” in Beyond, Yuen-yuet is a palace maid serving in the palace’s furnishing department. She enters the palace in hopes of finding her older sister, but gets warped into the dark side of politics. She romances General Ho, played by Edwin Siu (蕭正楠). For her role, Annie studied Cantonese and diligently practiced her lines with her friends and study mates.

Deep in the Realm of Conscience also stars Susan Tse (謝雪心) as the head of palace proceedings, Candy Lo (羅霖) as head of the jewelry department, Akina Hong (康華) as head of the furnishings department, Angie Cheong (張慧儀) as head of embroidery, and Pinky Cheung (張文慈) as the head of food proceedings.


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. wow, haven’t seen a kenneth and steven collaboration in years.

    They could have ask Jessica hsun to be in it too.

  2. This article mentions Steven’s Chinese name as 馬金衛. It is wrong. Please check the article before you post.

  3. I found the trailer on youtube. The colours clash badly. Hate it when they all stand together. And the painted mark on their forehead really annoys me. I get it that the Huadian is of the Tang tradition, but I am pretty sure they did not stick sparkles on their forehead.

    Storywise seems OK but nothing very interesting. I am confused if Steven’s emperor character is a villain considering what happened to Empress Wang in history. I do think that Nancy will act well, but the story seems depressing if it talks about how their marriage disintegrates after taking the throne.

    The series had a lot of good supporting casts, but I am afraid they will be pushed aside as flower vases while the young casts take the spotlight and they will just be slapped around

    I am, however, attracted to Princess Tai Ping’s character played by Alice, who really fits the role of an ambitious and bitter princess who keeps losing her loved ones to politics.

    Part One was entertaining thus its high ratings, but also flawed and overrated. I am not having high expectations for Part Two, whose story seems messier and trying to sell its “grandness” more than the actual plot.

    1. @elizabeth Well-said! Considering I didn’t even like the first installment, part 2 seems like a downgrade so of course not interested in watching. I saw the trailer and to be honest, it doesn’t look appealing – the costume / dress doesn’t bother me as much (it rarely does, even in blatant instances when TVB actually recycles costumes from one series to another), but the speech / way of speaking does….most of the females seemed to be speaking their dialogue really slowly, like they were trying to enunciate every word….not sure if it was just those scenes in the trailer and “making of” show (which I only watched parts of) but the way they spoke sounded very unnatural and to me was distracting….

      In terms of story – well, we already know that TVB rarely sticks to history so plot-wise I wouldn’t expect much but with TVB’s recent penchant toward editing their series to fit a certain agenda, I wouldn’t be surprised if the story ends up not making much sense. It’s already rumored that majority of Chrissie Chau’s scenes will be cut due to the ban on artists from Stephen Shiu Jr’s company, so depending on how big a role she had, that might affect the story adversely….and now they’re having problems getting the series approved to air in Mainland China (which is their target market), so depending on what the issue is with the delay in approval, that could affect things as well (meaning if it was certain scenes that didn’t pass censors, then most likely they will need to cut those as well). So far it’s not looking good at all….

      1. @llwy12

        “It’s already rumored that majority of Chrissie Chau’s scenes will be cut due to the ban on artists from Stephen Shiu Jr’s company”

        This is a big disappointment for me. The main attraction to this series for me is Chrissie Chau. If their are going to cut majority of her scenes, I might as well wait for the overseas version. I hope when they release it in DVD form, it will be a complete version.

  4. I read somewhere that Annie Liu was supposed to play some “princess” who knows kung fu?? Now all of a sudden she is a maid…

    Also, the TV trailer had TONES of spoilers. I wonder if they were intentional.

  5. Watched the behind the scenes of Deep in the Realm of Conscience , the plot was not as interesting as the 1st one…I have feeling it will be another disappointment. But, will still watch it.

  6. This synopsis sounds so draggy and boring, lol.

    I like Alice, but idk how much of her screamings I can take. Lol. At least she’s a solid actress though. I stopped watching Steven in his past few series. He can act but I find him boring, maybe it’s the characters -which all had been one note; not his fault. Scripts are to blame…

  7. I know I will catch flak for saying this, but I must say – the entire cast is comprised of classical beauties (except Nancy Wu & Steven Ma)!

    Everyone else is a showstopper.

    The costumes are tacky and not elegant at all, but it’s alright.

    I know I’m in for a cr@ppy story already…let’s just hope it’s not so bad that it’s unwatchable.

  8. Pinky Cheung seems visually out of place in this drama. She is too heavily built to fit in with the other elegant palace ladies…

  9. The colour is terrible especially for the women. Felt like any fabric will do. Men’s are ok for most part. The hair… Oh the hair…

  10. I gotta say, I really like Annie Liu! She’s prettier than I remember. Her Cantonese pronunciation isn’t the best, but I could understand. I think she made a good effort with speaking her lines. Her acting is decent, too, in spite of her limited understanding of Canto. And she’s SO good looking. I was glued to her face the entire time; talk about scene stealer.

    Michelle Yim’s 10 minute guest star was really weird haha. I definitely did not anticipate her getting killed. But even if killed, I expected the story to do flashbacks for her character. Maybe it will down the line, but if not, what a waste lol.

    Nancy is okay so far; not much going on. There’s some secret liaison she has with Kenneth, but it’s been bland. Nothing interesting.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Chrissie Chau. But for some reason, I don’t think I’m as excited about her as I am about Annie.

  11. Okay I’m eating my words. So far the plot’s been pretty efficient and good at slowly unfurling people’s stories and their backgrounds. The start was pretty shaky, but it’s gotten much better.

    1. @coralie
      Yes. Really good so far and with the main plot based on real history for once. Costumes excellent.Annie Liu is very cute as the main character. Wouldn’t be able to tell that she is in late 30s. Another former ATV to win best actress. Alice chan is brilliant as Princess Taiping. Her emotional and hostile scenes are done so well….

      1. @jimmyszeto they’ve taken some liberties with the characters, but I think overall they stuck close to historical facts.

        I must say I’m very happy about Nancy Wu’s character as a scheming, intelligent woman. I thought her character was going to be another Charmaine Sheh bleh.

        I like Alice and she usually shines. In this drama, though, I do feel she kinda overacts a liiiittle bit and she doesn’t give off that commandeering and fearsome ruthless aura like Sheren Tang. I feel she does better in subtle, sultry but powerful roles, like her character in Lord of Shanghai.

      2. @coralie
        I feel Alice has been really impressive. She is intimidating and can feel her character’s power within the palace. She also carries the inner torture well in the emotional scenes. Nancy though Hasn’t had much to work with. Her character is just follow procedure for the most part without directly upsetting Princess Taiping.

      3. @jimmyszeto Alica gives off a shrill vibe in this drama. not in the sense that her voice is shrilly, but her character is shrilly – despotic & dogmatic. it’s not as measured as her other roles.

        nancy’s role is great though! even if she doesn’t get to flex her acting chops, the character itself is a nice change from the mary sues. for that, I’m ecstatic for nancy.

      4. @coralie
        Nah. I feel Nancy is quite dull. I can think of at least 10 empresses or concubines that have stood out more than her in previous years.

      5. @jimmyszeto are you saying her role is dull or her acting is dull? two different things. I think her acting is okay (nothing extraordinary), but her role is great. I love the twist. from the beginning we know she’s not a pushover, but she’s wise, understanding and appeasing to most people. with the little wrench thrown in the last few episodes, we now know there’s more than meets the eye in her story. and what’s fascinating is that she’s still in the gray zone in terms of morality. I can’t say she’s evil, but she’s definitely done some terrible things, for the sake of her future. it’s a very interesting character. I hope they keep this up – because a character with depth is hard to find – and TVB is known for ditching a good thing too soon.

      6. @coralie
        You do know the title of the series right? It’s minimum to have a character like this. Hardly a character with depth yet. Once Chrissy pops up then we might see more development in Nancy’s character…

      7. @jimmyszeto well nobody told tvb this when they made the first installment. That first one was crap, no depth at all. It boggles me how it even raked in such high ratings. The title was very similar to this one. The previous series was a caricature of what one note villains and Mary Sues look like. This is the more mature & nuanced reincarnation. And yes one can anticipate scheming characters based off the title, but I expected it to be one note, which is basically Alice’s character

  12. Also, I’m surprised they casted Savio Tsang as the lovesick partner of Alice in here. They gave him a good meaty role for the first time in forever. Not only that, but he’s casted in Mui Siu Ching’s production, who is sister of Mui Siu Wai (Cutie Mui) whom he cheated on. Maybe she thinks he deserve absolution after that many years. Interesting tidbit, IMO.

    I cried for his short cameo. A very touching character.

    1. @coralie
      That was brilliant by Savio. Really heartfelt scenes. The only Male in the series given testing scenes to play. This TVB return for Savio might be his breakthrough. Steven hasnt had much to do so far and don’t feel anything for Kenneth’s sadness. Wai Ka Hung is typically brilliant as a eunuch.

  13. Just the usual palace backstabbing-powerstruggle-jealousconcubines type of drama complete with villain with huge glaring eyes, lovesick general and naive girl thrown in to complete the equation. It is however visually stunning with elaborate backdrops and colourful costumes. I am watching this for Steven Ma who isn’t playing his usual goody-two-shoes type of guy for once.

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