Veteran Actor Andy Tai Comments on TVB’s Decline: “It Hurts”

Andy Tai (戴志偉) used to be one of Hong Kong’s most prolific green-leaf actors before he decided to leave TVB in 2011, ending his 30-year relationship with the station. Though he now has a successful career in the insurance industry, the 58-year-old can’t help but miss the days when he used to work for TVB in their glory days. Acting is still his passion after all.

“It hurts,” said Andy when asked to comment on TVB’s decline. “It really hurts to see how quickly they’re falling.”

Andy graduated from TVB’s acting class in 1981. His graduating class that year also included Andy Lau (劉德華) and Tony Leung Ka-fai (梁家輝). Though Andy’s career did not take off as well as his classmates, his talent of being a convincing actor gave him a plethora of opportunities, and he quickly became one of TVB’s more prominent green leaf actors. Andy is perhaps best known for playing villain Cheung Ka-ming in 1984’s Police Cadet ’84 <新紥師兄> and Tuo-lui in 1994’s Legend of the Condor Heroes <射鵰英雄傳>.

When Andy was asked to leave the station in 2011, he didn’t want to. At the time, TVB’s excuse was that Andy wasn’t getting enough shows. It also didn’t help that it was TVB that made the executive decision to pull shows out of Andy’s schedule one by one. Andy felt disrespected.

Fortunately for Andy, he wasn’t short of money. He already had over ten years of experience being an insurance agent prior to leaving TVB. By the time he left TVB, Andy was already a senior manager at his insurance company. Andy didn’t want to stay with TVB for the money—it was because he truly wanted to just act.

Now seven years after the incident, Andy said he no longer holds a grudge against his mother station. In fact, he said he feels heartbroken seeing TVB’s rapid decline in popularity and influence.

Andy may no longer be working for TVB, but his work can still be seen every midnight. Currently, TVB is rerunning Detective Investigation Files IV <刑事偵緝檔案IV>, in which Andy plays the Special Crime Unit chief inspector, Peter Yau. It’s only a small supporting role, but the character has a light-hearted presence throughout the 50-episode drama.

“I didn’t rewatch Detective IV,” said Andy. “It’s been many years. I don’t remember most of it.” Asking if there were any differences in experience during the days between Detective IV and his leave from TVB in 2011, Andy said, “There were huge differences. During [Detective IV], the cast had great teamwork. They all cared about the show. Now the mindsets of actors have changed. There are only three words to describe it – they don’t care.”

As for TVB’s decision to air Mainland Chinese dramas during golden time slot hours rather than their own productions, Andy said sadly, “This is a fatal blow to the institute. If you don’t have your own productions, you would become a supermarket—you only sell things made by other people. I believe this is a problem with the organizers and investors. They don’t have as good of a foresight as Shaw Sir (Sir Run Run Shaw).”

What about TVB’s claim of him not having enough shows? Andy said, “That was a problem with the system. A supermarket has good products, but they hide it and don’t sell it. We are good products. I’m confident in that.”


This article is written by Addy for

Related Articles


  1. Didn’t know he was asked to leave! Thought he retired from showbiz. That’s horrid since it was the company that decided to cut back his shows then turned around saying he wasn’t meeting the shows quota!
    He’s one of my favorite veteran actors, glad that he did not have to depend on TVB for his livelihood.

    1. @bearbear he is my favourite actor too! Oh my tvb what is wrong with you letting go of these veteran actors..actors now a days can’t act properly..oh I’m glad he did not have to depend on tvb too..

      1. @stmlw20 Oh yes, actors and actresses who can hardly hold more than 1 expression or exaggerate in every expression, it is a pain to watch. I hardly watch TVB shows these days, bad acting, boring script, repeated and over usage of leading casts…In a way I will still remember it fondly for all those good old classics it has produced but no matter what, it does not excuse them for treating their staff horribly and unfairly.

    2. @bearbear This is actually a common tactic that TVB engaged in back then (and still does even now). It’s definitely a problem with management because back in the Uncle Six (Run Run Shaw) days, artists rarely ever complained about being disrespected (long hours and little money yes, but disrespect and lack of dignity no). Former TVB artists have been complaining about this stuff for more than a decade but it’s only now that the media and others are actually listening….sad.

      1. @llwy12
        Yes sadly, I was a fan of TVB since I was a child and my oldest brother always told me how shady TVB is. They make artists work long and grueling hours with little pay, disrespect, mistreat,etc… the list of bad things about tvb are never ending. Maybe karma is biting back at them since they are going downhill and declining so much?

      2. @llwy12 They didn’t have any competition back then. ATV came the closest but ATV ratings were no way near theirs hence they have the upper hand to do what they wanted, treated their staff any way they liked.

      3. @bearbear They don’t have any competition now either. Actually, in their 50+ years of existence, TVB never really had formidable competition – ATV did beat them a few times in terms of ratings but that glory was short-lived. What ATV succeeded in doing back in the 80s and 90s was spurring TVB to up their game and also motivate them to present a united front to combat the enemy so to speak (this was especially the case during the Lam Pak Yan era, during which ATV prospered to the point that TVB truly felt threatened for the first time in their history). At the end of the day though, it really boils down to the management – back in the old days (70s/80s/early 90s) TVB had their fair share of issues of course, but the artists’ dissatisfaction levels were never this high nor this widespread. Several of the veterans who’ve been with TVB since the Run Run Shaw era (basically since the 70s/80s to now) have mentioned in interviews the specific differences they’ve noticed between how the company was run back then versus how it’s like now and one of the main things that always comes up is that Run Run Shaw actually treated his employees as human beings rather than as disposable commodities – that’s why back then, most artists were still willing to go up to bat for TVB despite the long hours and little pay (2 things that have been issues from the beginning). As with any company, how the leadership at the top manages things is extremely important, as it sets the tone for how the company is run and can mean the difference between the company succeeding in the long run or becoming obsolete….unfortunately, with the poor leadership they’ve had at the top for the last 15 years, there really isn’t much hope for TVB anymore…

  2. Yeah, TVB will promote actresses/actors to be popular by filming in many dramas as lead each year (which gets boring seeing them all the time). Meanwhile giving them poor wages and having them endure poor working conditions through long-term contracts, or what I call slave contracts. Basically, they force people to work like a dog for fame. If they don’t, they will not not have a chance or opportunity to work anywhere else as there were not many television broadcasting companies at the time.

    1. @peachyogurt Slave contracts is one thing….the biggest problem IMO is TVB basically being able to break an artist’s career on a whim if management doesn’t like an artist or wants to punish them. Andy Tai is actually “lucky” in that he didn’t have pay TVB back for not having enough shows — many artists have had to do that (ie: the contract stipulates 100 shows but the artist only has 75 by the end of his contract….TVB can force the artist to pay for the remaining shows, even if they were the ones who withheld show opportunities from the artist). TVB takes advantage of the fact that many of the old school artists respect the spirit of the contract and will still adhere by the contract no matter how unfair it is (not to mention they are also taking advantage of these same artists’ loyalty to TVB under the Run Run Shaw era). TVB’s system is seriously messed up and has been for many years….yet they refuse to do anything about it….

      1. @llwy12 woah that’s insane!
        No wonder everyone applying for miss hk seems to be from a rich backgroud…. Only they can afford to live the actor life it seems

      2. @bubbles23 Or you need to become rich and powerful in the industry like Stephen Chow and Louis Koo (both of whom still “owe” TVB shows, as they had left before fulfilling their contractual obligations to the station) and build up enough clout where TVB doesn’t dare go after you.

      3. @llwy12
        Yes TVB is shady and totally very bad so that is nothing new. They just care about profits and money but that is it. They will fall to their death sooner or later if they continue on like this. If they continue to create these bad winds, then a bad storm will result and destroy them…

      4. @hetieshou Yup, I agree…the sad thing is, there are artists out there who don’t usually badmouth TVB yet even they have complained about the mistreatment over the years (albeit in a “nice” way). The most memorable for me was Uncle Chi (Liu Kai Chi) who did a rare interview many years ago explaining why he felt disrespected by TVB and why he left (he’s one of the nicest celebrities you’ll ever meet and rarely ever says anything bad about anyone). I remember former TVB chairman Norman Leung (back when he was still in his position) actually referenced Uncle Chi’s interview in his speech during one of the TVB annual staff dinners and said the interview humbled him to the point that it made him reflect on TVB’s actions and come up with changes that he wanted to implement (which of course he didn’t since he left his position shortly after that). [As much as I’ve always felt that Norman Leung was useless as chairman (and my opinion of him still stands even now), that was the one time during his tenure that I actually had a little bit of respect for him.] Since then, no one in TVB management’s team has bothered to listen to anyone’s feedback (whether former employees or general public)…

  3. I thought he left tvb too since haven’t seen him for a long time well it’s tvb lost I guess for loosing such a good actor like Andy is. Glad he’s moving on and found a better job too.

    1. @cutie777 i kinda expected he left because I didn’t see him on the screen for a long time. he is good.
      still remember him in a role as an underworld leader who fell in love with ada choi’s simple character only to be killed by cheung ka fei. i’m happy for andy to be doing well in his insurance company.

    2. @cutie777
      Me too and I wondered what happened to him. I thought he just got sick of acting so just retired to do something else. He is a great actor and I grew up watching his series. I was just watching HSDS and love his performance. But it is great that he has a good job so did not need tvb to survive financially.

  4. I had always thought he was asked to leave because he broke Chan Wing Chun’s arm/leg (? can’t remember details) during a soccer brawl.

  5. Another solid supporting actor. I also miss the glory days of TVB. It is what it is. TVB’s current obsession is collaborating with Mainland or airing Mainland dramas. Digging a hole in the making.

  6. To be honest Andy Tai had been limited to small extra roles years before he left. Roles that were an insult to such a good actor who in the 1980s to early 2000s was commanding big support roles mainly as villain. I guess the shelf life of typecasted villains are much shorter. The likes of Benz and Chun Wong would last forever because of the comedic typecasting. It is still crap treatment of TVB though because they don’t honour nor respect artists who have selved the company all these years. They act like a harsh business. I remember a few years ago when TVB decided to suddenly award long service awards during an anniversary and Sunny Chan was given one. It was a joke because there are many support actors who have served decades more than Sunny who got ignored for the award. It happened that Sunny was at the end of his contract and the award was to persuade him to stay. It was funny that he left straight afterwards anyway…

  7. Oh, I really like Andy Tai, and think he’s great in comedic roles. There was a really childish TV series in the early 90s about a hotel spirit and I remember finding him hilarious in it. I also found him quite memorable as the doting gangster bf in Secret of the Heart. Glad to see he’s doing ok for himself.

    1. @anoninhk
      So many roles from Andy Tai. At his peak he played Tony Leung’s half brother in police cadet which kind of got him off to a villainous start in his career. There was also the memorable gangster role The Battle Among the Clans following by Villain roles in The Challenge of Life. WHat impressed me most was his mature villain role in Song Bird. Later on big roles in Major productions Secret of the Heart and At the Threshold of a Era. Disgusting that he was relegated to roles as extras in his last half dozen years at TVB while other support actors are still going strong….

      1. @jimmyszeto Not to mention Andy’s rare turn as a good guy in the Tony Leung version of Heaven Sword Dragon Sabre (my all time favorite HSDS adaptation). And yes, loved him in all those series you mentioned as well as in DIF IV.

        And to think that Andy still shows his respect to TVB despite how they treated him. Just last month, when ViuTV invited the Celebrity Soccer team to watch World Cup final live in Russia (they paid for their accommodations and travel expenses), Andy was one of the artists who refused to let ViuTV pay for him (he paid everything himself) and also refused to appear even for a minute on ViuTV (he had already arranged for the cameras to avoid panning to him) — everyone thought it was because he was still signed to TVB but obviously not, since he left already 7 years ago. TVB should be ashamed of themselves — they treat artists like crap yet those artists refuse to reciprocate that disrespect….

      2. @llwy12
        I was just watching the Tony version of HSDS with my little brother today. We loved Andy in there and he finally played a good guy. He usually plays baddie roles but really stands out.
        Andy is so great to be so good to tvb in spite of how they treated him. Tvb is sooo stupid and should be ashamed of themselves!

      3. @jimmyszeto

        I do not know about you but I actually loved his performance in Duke of Mt Deer. He was pathetic, evil, idiotic,etc… but he was actually kind of funny too. I loved the way Tony played him several times.

  8. My mom enjoyed his performances. He was a good actor and tvb should ask him in to film again

  9. Oh dear. I didn’t know that he was dropped from the station. I knew he left, but I thought it was because he wasn’t getting any good roles. I thought he’d left for other TV stations (that ultimately failed). This is such a shame. This article shows that he has a great passion for acting, but was dropped for no real reason.

  10. wow he was basically fired by TVB for no apparent reason after 30 years of work.. great karma took over TVB the glory days of TVB is over, the station is on decline it’s a matter of time they’ll turn fully into a supermarket as he mention lol..

    that mainland drama in a prime time slot seen it a bit, it’s ridiculous and the voice over canton dub on Charmaine is hilarious. such a turn off, couldn’t stand it more than 10mins. lmao

  11. There was an interview of Louise Lee a few years ago and she said the same thing about TVB as well. If they can do this to Louise, which was an impactful leading actress back in the days and was still leading/supporting before her departure, they will do this to any actor that they feel are disposable.

    I know it’s hard to accept but TVB has the writing on the wall. They will sink like ATV. When that happens, HK entertainment will be no different than mainland.

    1. @anon
      I agree and tvb may sink like ATV and may slowly disappear. If tvb does, it will be karma as they have been mistreating so many artists for soooo many years already. What goes around comes around!

    2. @anon Yup…I remember Louise had come right out and said that TVB had no use for her anymore so she would rather leave on her own accord when she still had control of her own fate instead of waiting for TVB to force her out. In TVB’s eyes, EVERYONE is disposable – doesn’t matter who you are (though ironically they are quick to piggy back on former artists’ successes and shamelessly use those artists’ names to promote themselves). And yes, it’s going to take a shutdown ATV-style to get TVB to change their ways but unfortunately that’s not going to happen because TVB management obviously already saw the writing on the wall and therefore shifted their business to Mainland so as a company, they will still be able to emerge relatively unscathed if things get dire in HK.

      1. @llwy12

        If hell breaks loose in HK. how can TVB transition so easily as a mainland media company? Do they even have the financials and relations to compete on their own in China? As far as I know, all of their major productions have been joint ventures with mainland production companies.

      2. @anon They’ve been paving the way for such a move ever since Mainland investor Li Ruigang took a controlling stake in TVB (he has close to 30% ownership in TVB currently) and Shaw Brothers. His connections throughout China as well as in the government are strong and even though on paper, he technically isn’t the one in control of TVB because it violates the terms of TVB’s free-to-air TV license for him to have full ownership (his position at the station is officially vice-chairman + non-executive director), he’s definitely the one calling the shots behind-the-scenes. Unlike the idiot Wong Ching (the Mainland investor who took over and ruined ATV), Li Ruigang actually is the real deal and has quite a bit of influence in the cultural industries sector (which is what the entertainment industry falls under) – from a financial standpoint, there’s obviously no problem there, as he’s got investments / stakes in many top companies throughout China (i.e. iQiyi, BiliBili, Star China Media, Caixin Media, Alibaba, etc.) as well as the United States (in addition to controlling the China arm of U.S. studio Warner Brothers as well as investment in Imagine Entertainment, he is also a minority shareholder in CAA, which is currently the largest entertainment and sports talent agency in the world). Early in the year, Li Ruigang had actually launched a buyback plan of TVB shares with the intention of increasing his ownership in the station to 41%, but because the Communications Authority didn’t respond in time, the bid didn’t go through – TVB (Li Ruigang) issued a statement at the time stating that they will revisit the plan at a later date and also continue looking at ways to achieve its goal (which is to expand into a global television / film empire, starting with Mainland and expanding outward into Asia and the rest of the world).

        Also, let’s not forget that HK is a very small market compared to Mainland China (and also Hollywood). Let’s say that all 7 million people (current population in HK) refused to watch TVB anymore (hypothetical of course, since the TV industry’s market share right now in terms of viewers in HK is less than 2 million on average so nowhere near current population) – how much is that going to hurt TVB when they’ve got 1.4 billion people (current population in China) that they can potentially convert in Mainland to become their own audiences if they play their cards right? Even if, let’s say, they are only able to convert 30% of the population like in HK, that’s still 400 million viewers, which is 60 times more than what they would get in HK. Even if they end up foregoing the Hollywood connection (especially since the relationship between China and U.S. is on shaky ground right now due to Trump’s recent actions) and focus only on Mainland, there is still plenty of opportunity there for them to succeed.

        If you were to ask me a few years ago whether TVB would be able to succeed in Mainland China, my answer would probably be no – but with the way things have changed over the past couple years, the answer is now very obviously a yes….and it will most likely happen sooner rather than later….

      3. @llwy12 Investors come and go. The moment TVB isn’t worth his investment, they will go. Nothing lasts forever in this world. TVB also used to have China audiences in the past when RRS was around.

  12. Didn’t Andy recently starred in the TVB-China co-production ‘Flying Tiger’ drama?

Comments are closed.