Sheren Tang and Ada Choi Disappointed by “Beauty at War’s” Poor Ratings

It has been nine years since the series War and Beauty <金枝慾孽> was aired. It is still considered to be one of TVB’s most successful dramas and is the only series to feature an entire main cast made up of Best Actor and Actress winners. The viewers were ecstatic when TVB announced that a sequel would be filmed despite the fact that it will not be featuring many of the original cast members.

Beauty At War <金枝慾孽(貳)> may not be an Anniversary series, but TVB considers it to be a fairly grand production which features Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯), Ada Choi (蔡少芬), Christine Ng (伍詠薇), Moses Chan (陳豪), and Kenny Wong (黃德斌).

“Beauty At War” Drops to 19 Points

With such a powerful cast, no one would have expected that the series would hit an all time low of 19 points. Many blamed that Beauty At War was too difficult to understand and the plot was too deep. However, when interviewed, the three lead stars – Sheren, Ada, and Moses had different views on the drama’s unsuccessful run.

Sheren Tang Not Afraid in Speaking Her Mind

Earlier, reports have pointed at Sheren’s displeasure with fellow cast member, Christine Ng, and producer Jonathan Chik (戚其義). When asked about being unhappy with Jonathan and script editor Chow Yuk Ming (周旭明), Sheren admitted that she regrets accepting the role, “I’m not upset at them; we just have different views on some topics. I really admire Jonathan’s work and Beauty At War is still important to me. I’ve already rejected a lot of other series just to film this one, so it’s very disappointing when the time and effort doesn’t pay off like you expect it to.”

The low ratings of Beauty At War have been the biggest talk lately, but Sheren said she did not pay attention to the ratings. Sheren focuses on how much a series helps improve her acting and confessed,  “It’s like that time I filmed The Intangible Truth <生死訟> with Roger Kwok (郭晉安) and Esther Kwan (關詠荷). The ratings were so low that they nearly had to cancel the show, but I enjoyed it a lot considering it really brought out my acting abilities. To be honest, this is why even if filming a sequel to War and Beauty might destroy a classic, I knew I had to do it anyway, because the original series dramatically improved my acting.”

Ada Loves Jonathan Chik’s Work 

Ada Choi has collaborated with Jonathan Chik seven times. Her earlier work with him was in Secret of the Heart <天地豪情>. Ada openly states that she loves his work and there is solid trust in the work relationship.

“I’m very comfortable working with both Jonathan and Yuk Ming. If I don’t understand something, I would simply ask them without hesitation. Jonathan is especially hardworking and will continue even if times are tough. With the issue of scripting problems, Yuk Ming actually had an initial script for us, but he just wanted a better one so that our work could go more smoothly! I fully agree with them and I really have to credit their amazing screenplay in the end.”

With regards to the low ratings, Ada disclosed that she was slightly disappointed, but she is not too focused on the ratings alone. She believes that the quality of the series is more important and that Jonathan was never one to direct mainstream dramas. Looking at his past productions, The Dance of Passion <火舞黃沙>, and Fly With Me <飛女正傳>, both series had many controversies and were not well received by the general public. “I know Jonathan’s concepts are rather special compared to what is traditionally accepted, but I always have fun working with him. Success doesn’t necessarily have to be measured by how many awards you get or how good the ratings are!” Ada also tells the public that they should not give up on Beauty At War yet and give it another chance.

Moses Believes Ratings Are Not Correlated With Success 

With similar views as Ada, Moses states that Jonathan has been present during filming every day and offers a lot of advice. “He gives us creative freedom to express ourselves and his inputs really help me grasp the concepts on many of the topics.”

Moses admits that the plot may have been too deep for some viewers. But like the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – although some viewers do not like the drama, it does not mean it is a bad series.  Moses said, “The ratings for my series could be over 40 points, but if I don’t have a sense of pride afterwards, the ratings won’t matter to me at all.”

Christine also understands that the script may be too difficult to comprehend. Although it is necessary to spend a little more time trying to learn everything, she liked the experience and expressed that team spirit and great relationships from filming are worth more than ratings.

Source: Ming Pao Weekly #2322 via

This article is written by Su for

Related Articles


  1. What ratings did the Intangible Truth get that could also been on the verge if cancellation?

    1. Hong Kongers did not accept this type of drama because of Communist China, INSANITY, Bloody, Drugs exchange, Brothers and Sisters fight to death. Lots of villains. Over exaggeration. I doubt a lot of people make it past episode 5. BTW, Esther Kwan’s first TVB series.

      1. @Larry: Yes, Intangible Truth had all that and there were times while watching where I just wanted to strangle the characters in there or slap some sense into people (especially So Hung Suen’s character…argh!!)….and I felt so sorry for Roger’s character that I would just burst out crying at certain points….but all in all, I still felt it was a good series (and that’s after watching every single episode).

        With all that said though, the series definitely isn’t for everyone — anyone who watches the series needs to be prepared for an emotionally torturous ride …

    2. Intangible Truth had the ‘honor’ of being one of TVB’s lowest rated series of all time (and almost killed Roger Kwok’s career in the process).

      I actually watched Intangible Truth recently and can honestly say I understand why the ratings would be low (because of the sensitivity of the topics discussed in that series) – BUT, from an acting perspective, it was one of the best series I’ve watched in a long time! Roger Kwok delivered one of the best performances of his career in that series (those scenes where he visits his mother So Hung Suen in jail were absolutely heartwrenching — but the dialogue and emotion was impeccably delivered) — majority of the cast also put in awesome performances as well (Esther, Sheren, veteran actress So Hung Suen, Chun Wong, Lau Kong, Alex Fong, etc. ). Sure, that series was also relatively slow-placed (though the main reason why the series did poorly was because of its dark theme and also focus on Mainland China’s politics / legal system), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t any good. I sort of see Beauty at War in the same way – great acting, a lot of great scenes and story concepts, but pace is too slow and some concepts are too deep for mainstream audiences. Both are definitely ‘niche’ series that most mainstream housewife audiences won’t like nor watch….

      1. Is this series where Sheren get framed for drug trafficking by her own father and got sentenced to death?

      2. I dug the Ester and Alex Fong Chung Shun pairing back then! It took the focus from the repetitive tragedy of the family cos Alex was really hot!

        I thought “The Intangible Truth” was a good concept and had a solid cast but badly executed. It was too long and draggy and most of the tragic events could have been avoided if they just gave upon the useless dad and lived their own lives. The “villians” were actually not that smart, but the goody-two-shoes were too stupid and naïve.

      3. @Charbydis: Yup…that’s why I felt that the series was ‘emotionally torturous’ – on the one hand, I can’t help but feel for some of the characters (Roger for instance and the kid who portrays his son – that kid was so adorable, yet to be treated the way he did…I cried through practically every scene he had), but on the other hand, I get pissed off as hell over the ‘stupidities’ of some of the characters (the mother for instance)…to be honest though, I think this is also another reason why the series ‘failed’ in terms of appealing to mainstream audiences – it was too ‘realistic’ and ‘raw’ in its portrayal of the flaws of the human race and so it can be difficult to accept the fact that sometimes, life really can be so cruel. One question I found myself asking throughout the series is – Why??? (Why would you go back and continue to be with a wife beater who almost kills you? Why would you knowingly still believe the lies of your bastard husband who frames you, causes your innocent daughter to be executed, and has no regard for you or your kids whatsoever? Why do you continue to see a woman who gets severely beaten by her husband every time she sees you? Why Why Why?). Looking back now, I honestly don’t think there was a single ‘sane, non-tragic’ character in that series (except for maybe Chun Wong)…LOL.

        @Kidd: Yes, that’s the series…Sheren did a great job in that series, even though her role was relatively small in comparisons to the rest of the cast (that was the first series she filmed after returning to TVB and even though it was only a supporting role, it was one heck of a performance!).

  2. The article talks about the top actors and then there is Christine to wrap up the article. lol!

    Sheren admitted that she regrets accepting the role.

    Actually in other news reports, Sheren has repeatedly said that she does not regret accepting the role cos’ once she accepted a role she would never second guess her decision, so I’m iffy on the above quote being Sheren’s actual wording.

    1. I hope you confused Christine with Christine Kuo rather than Christine Ng.

      1. @Chen: Just belatedly realized I did confuse Christine with Christine Kuo, so here I am to take back what I wrote. oops! Sorry, my bad!

    2. since in the original article it says 伍咏薇 (伍姑娘)

      1. They do call Christine Ng 伍姑娘. I have seen it in Sing Tao newspaper as well.

      2. Sorry, I just meant that I hope clamine thought that the Christine mentioned in the article is Christine Kuo rather than Christine Ng because whilst 伍姑娘 might not be as strong an actress as Sheren or Ada she definitely has enough acting clout to be grouped with them, the other Christine obviously not.

  3. It’s the director/producers’ fault for waiting THAT long to film this series. I mean seriously, look at the time/age gap since the first BAW, holy cow…I wish Gigi Lai was in there. She had the best expression when acting

      1. Its TVB Production Supervisor Catherine Tsang

      2. Thanks…
        But Virginia Lok may had a role to do as well.

      3. No, her role is asking her lapdogs to give her very expansive bags to be in a series.

      4. Catherine and Virginia are both executives. They are rivals.

      5. 620 manages the artists not the production.

      6. True but they do have some say on which artiste goes in which production.

  4. I’m loving the new series Slow Boat Home. I miss those kinda series. TVB used to have those kinda series a lot. Now, it all the series is too series. Bring some comedy back.

    KK Cheung, Ram Chiang, Angela (KK’s wife) the old doctor should get an outstanding award this year. They deserve it.

  5. Ha! At which point was anyone surprised that Beauty At War is a disappointment? First of all, War and Beauty should have been it. There shouldn’t have been a sequel to begin with. A good story is one knowing when to end. War and Beauty was a success because it was different. Storyline was well developed and relatively original–not riding on anyone’s coat tail. Good actors were cast based on the role they’re right for, not because of their popularity or lobbying skills. War and Beauty wasn’t meant to be a success, its success was a reward for its pioneer to shoot mostly on location and premiered an all star female cast based solidly on their acting. And they were all real acting rivals.

    You can’t make a series and aiming to be a success. Beauty at War had so much noise when it started filming that raised such high expectations. And yes, Sheren, Ada, and Christine Ng would have been grandmothers if they were their characters during the Qing dynasty. Sheren was already over the prime age of a concubine in War and Beauty, but this is 10 years later, and with everyone else, it’s just pushing the age appropriateness. The female supporting cast for Beauty at War isn’t as interesting as War and Beauty. Just the title itself is stupid.

    Well, that’s just among many reasons Beauty at War isn’t all that’s cracking up to be.

    1. Well, it is boring mostly. But maybe, there is chance for this week to increase the ratings with the help of Slow Boat Home debut series.

    2. Well said Jill.
      But I am giving episode 2 another try. :3

    3. I think this serial shall change name to grandma at war since during Qing dynasty emperor actually become father at age of 15 or 16 plus that nothing beauty’ about this drama.

      1. LOL dats a fresh 1 “grandma at war” nice, mann!

  6. PPl find it boring n perhaps if d lesbian scenes r included ratings b skyrocketed I supposed hahaaa

    There weren’t any rape scenes so far but a palace maid got rape though!

  7. there’s some error with this article. first War and Beauty wasn’t the only series with the main cast to have best actresses and best actors,where there were many other series that achieved this! Eg. Beyond the Realm of Conscience with Moses, Tavia, Charmanie and Kevin all are tv kings and actresses!

    1. You have to remember that before BTROC, war and beauty was the only one, i think.

      1. @Simon: It’s still technically ‘wrong’ though because at the time War and Beauty aired (back in 2004), only Maggie had won the BA award (Gigi, Sheren, Charmaine, Moses, and Bowie all won their awards afterwards). If they’re referring to the period from 2004 until now (2013), then indeed there are quite a few series that fit the definition, so WAB definitely can’t be referred to as the ‘only’ series with such a cast….not sure if it’s a translation issue or the writer of the article just used the wrong choice of words…

      2. You also forgot DIF4 – both Louis and Jessica won Best Actor and Best Actress for their roles that year. And unlike now, back then competition was tough, everyone was so good such that I was happy whoever won, despite my biases.

    2. You also forgot DIF4 – both Louis and Jessica won Best Actor and Best Actress for their roles that year. And unlike now, back then competition was tough, everyone was so good such that I was happy whoever won, despite my biases.

  8. I thought Sheren didn’t regret taking the role, now she is?

    War & Beauty worked well with audience because it didn’t try to get unnecessarily deep and still manage to tug at the hearts. This one tries to be clever but ended up maybe being something which thinks itself as too clever when it is not that clever. And the language was unnecessarily deep.

    And I suppose maybe fans have issues with the women falling for Moses or maybe they are turned off by the average age of the actors or maybe, just maybe the story just suck big time?

    1. No, Sheren doesn’t regret accepting this role. She repeatedly said in many interviews that she does not regret accepting this role. =)

  9. So disappointing, have not watch it… but don’t feel like doing it now.

  10. High concept to a (lack of a better expression) “dumb audience.”

    That’s another thing, if TVB churns out mediocre series and stupid series one after another, then they should know that their audience, no matter how intelligent they are, will be too numb to accept any intelligent stimulation. The audience have been desensitized to accept low concept series on a nightly basis that if you throw a high concept series at them, they wouldn’t know how to react to it. It’s not that HK audience are dumb, it’s because they’re so used to watching low concept stories that, all of a sudden, a high concept storyline will not work. This is why Heaven and Earth sucked.

    A successful series in this case is one that can tie in the low concept with high quality storytelling. Take a common, everyday storyline and make it compelling to watch–develop, be thoughtful, make something difficult to understand easy to comprehend, allow the audience to feel attached, sympathetic to, and identified with those characters. That’s why Rose Business worked. That’s why the original War and Beauty worked.

    1. Totally agree! A good story doesn’t have to be deep. It could just be a simple storyline everyday people could understand (like Rosy Business or ATV’s The Good Old Days wayyyyy back then), but if you have good pacing, good character development and good actors and actresses, it could be successful. Jonathan Chik is trying too hard to be like Wong Kar Wai with his storytelling.

      1. Absolutely. BAW tries too hard to be deep and becomes pretentious at every levels. Watch two episodes of SBH and what a relief to finally get a series that doesn’t try too hard to be deep until the script becomes dull and the actors becomes unnatural.

  11. I’ve watched till episode 17. I only watched sheren and Christine ng and ada choi part only. As I find that Moses role is boring. I will fast forward when it comes to opera singing part. Lol.
    But I still wanna contd to watch as sheren is one of myfav actress. She puts so much efforts on this drama.

    1. Moses cannot act. I love Christine and Sheren but the script failed them. I can sense that they’re not natural enough and not enjoying the series. Ada Choi is stiff, what happened to her?

  12. I don’t watch TVB but way to overdress, overdesign and still look like you don’t feel pretty as you are garbed.

  13. Haha i googled “Intangible Truth” and i remember watching the series when I was small. I like the girl with the long hair in the series on the poster.

  14. BAW is pretentious at every level from the script to the unnatural acting. When you watch SBH, everyone looks natural and enjoying their parts but in BAW, everyone looks stiff and the acting was too obviously acting. Same goes to BB, too much unnaturalism. That’s why SBH got the positive reactions and higher ratings although only 2 episodes have been aired. I am with the internet, finally something to watch after two huge fail blockbusters.

  15. This serials is the most boring I ever saw honestly ,I prefer slow boat home ,however if you cannot sleep ,watch this ,It will get fall fall sleep less than 3 minutes.

  16. The link to a lengthy he said (scriptwriter 周旭明) she said (Sheren) reporter said (nandu daily) Q&A news article

    As in all he said she said situation, both sides have their points.

    However, I’m always of the opinion that if you have problems with each other, go confront that person in private and tell it to him/her face to face, whether to try to resolve the issue, to clear the air, or just to vent off steam so it’s not crushing your chest. Airing personal discord in the public serves no purpose (only entertainment fodder for others)other than self-gratification. 周旭明 said the ‘0’ script situation in WAB was actually worse than in BAW, hence his snide rat-sinking ship remark.

    In the case of Sheren, I understand her frustration over the script undermining her performance and that of her fellow cast members too, subsequently having her mental health affected by anxiety. I also agree with her charge that scriptwriter 周旭明 was utterly egotistical and self-centered in just thinking of perfecting his own craft (script) while willfully ignoring the actors’ need for perfection of their craft too.

    In fact, 周旭明 acknowledged Sheren’s charge that he was indeed being willful with his script at the expense of the actors’ performances, and also in that because BAW being his last TVB series he wanted to make it his very own, at the expense of the viewers, not only alienating the general viewers but also maybe even his supporters too.

    And then he insinuated Sheren is like the proverbial rat scampering quickly to leave a sinking ship. 有时我会悲观地想,一部船快要沉了,总会有人扮老鼠先走,这次给我真是这样的感觉。

    All have valid points, but why can’t they have it out and go at each other in private? And now their discord continues on weibo and spread with fellow ex-cast members chipping in and of course plenty of input from the omnipresent netizens.

Comments are closed.