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Andrea Teo, creator of Under One Roof and Phua Chu Kang, loses battle with cancer

If you grew up in the 90s, you would probably have seen Teo’s hit sitcoms dominating prime-time television.

Andrea Teo, creator of Under One Roof and Phua Chu Kang, loses battle with cancer

The late Andrea Teo, creator and director of Under One Roof and Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd.

Andrea Teo, the brains behind some of Singapore’s most beloved sitcom hits Under One Roof and Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd, died on Thursday (Aug 25) after a battle with cancer. She was 56.

“The laughter is quiet today as Singapore’s ‘Queen of Comedy’ has passed away after two years of illness,” said a statement from the Under One Roof family that was released to the media.

It hailed her as a “true innovator and trailblazer” in the entertainment scene. Before she charmed audiences in the 90s with the memorable families of Tan Ah Teck and Phua Chu Kang, Teo directed the riotous sketch comedy show The Ra Ra Show starring comedian Kumar.

Said the statement: “Andrea established the English sitcom genre in Singapore as a mainstay of local entertainment with programmes like Happy Belly, Three Rooms, My Grandson The Doctor, Money and Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd, where she trained and nurtured a whole generation of local TV directors, production coordinators and scriptwriters.”

Actress Koh Chieng Mun, who starred as Dolly in Under One Roof, said Teo “pushed the envelope continuously” because she “believed in presenting the Singaporean identity”. 

“Without Andrea leading Under One Roof, Singaporeans would not have had the show that reflected their souls nor gave them the licence to lighten up. And I would not have the chance to play Dolly nor enjoy a career as a comedic actor,” she said.

Fellow Under One Roof cast member Vernetta Lopez, who played Denise, said that Teo "basically carved out a new era of local comedy of the time".

"If you ever loved and still remember Under One Roof, please spare a prayer for Andrea Teo, who created the show, and has just lost her battle with cancer," she said in a Facebook post.

"She was detailed, dynamic, and understood what comedy was and brought out the best in her writers, actors, producers and crew."

Mediacorp issued a statement, saying: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our former colleague, Andrea Teo. She will be dearly missed by all who have worked with her. Andrea was well known and regarded for her work on some of our best loved comedies, such as Under One Roof and Phua Chu Kang. This is a devastating loss and we offer our deepest condolences to Andrea’s family and friends."

Woon Tai Ho, former CEO of Mediacorp News, paid tribute to Teo on Facebook, calling her a "media whiz". "She was also an accomplished musician, a true renaissance woman, creative in many other ways," he wrote.

He recounted how he first came to know of her. "In 1994, the CEO of TCS (Television Corporation of Singapore) Lee Cheok Yew invited a few of us to watch the pilot recording of the first local sitcom, Under One Roof. I found myself laughing hard and realised while I was laughing with Tan Ah Teck and his family in Bishan, I was also laughing at ourselves. The jokes did not sound forced and the English used did not make me cringe. I was happy someone finally found a way to make me comfortable with local comedy and local TV. I remember Cheok Yew turning to me, 'This is good, he said. Well, it wasn’t just good, TV history was made."

"The creative mind behind the sitcom was Andrea Teo. I found out later she was also the person behind The Ra Ra Show and later Phua Chu Kang. Singapore entertainment had found its identity," he said.

Actor Hossan Leong posted a message of gratitude.

"Thank you Andrea," he said in a Facebook post. "You gave me my start in TV."

Culinary icon Violet Oon also took to Facebook to bid farewell to her friend.

"A beautiful light has dimmed but not died - Andrea lives on in the laughter and joy she brought in her TV programmes - The Ra Ra Show, Under One Roof and more - that so many in Singapore remember with fondness and love," she said.

"As for me, I remember her as the superb pianist whose musicianship made singing to her piano accompaniment a dream come true!

"She was the renaissance personified whose creativity touched TV, beer, theme parks, chocolate cake (?) and now - Sentosa - all with magic dust and gave them a whole new different life no other person could possibly imagine!" 

Teo’s work won a slew of awards, including multiple Asian TV Awards, a bronze medal for Sitcom at the New York Festival and an international Emmy for her second sitcom, Happy Belly. 

She spent nearly 12 years at Mediacorp and made her mark at Asia Pacific Breweries, and later Resorts World Sentosa where she spearheaded the start-up of the Entertainment team.

From 2017, she was VP of Attractions and Entertainment of Jeju Shinhwa World in South Korea.

Since 2021, she worked as a consultant to the team redeveloping Sentosa, curating and designing guest experiences.  

“Dynamic, fearless, inspiring, Andrea could perhaps seem intimidating to those who didn’t know her, but her warmth, kindness and generosity knew no bounds. Throughout her life, she was a mentor, advocate, mother hen and guide to many creative souls,” said the Under One Roof family.

“If Andrea’s TV programmes have ever made you laugh or brought some warmth to you and your family, please take a moment today to think of her with a smile.”

Source: CNA