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.”