SINGAPORE: Did you know that years before Zoe Tay became the Queen of Caldecott Hill, there was already a royalty of sorts in the area?
During the 1800s, a merchant named Seah Eu Chin – who was known as the King of Pepper and Gambier – had set up plantation houses and grew crops in the area.
Mediacorp’s former home will be in the limelight at this year’s Singapore Heritage Festival (SHF), which is turning up the glitz and glamour by holding one of its main events at Caldecott Broadcast Centre.
This year’s edition, which comprises 110 programmes and activities, will run over three weekends from April 28 to May 14.
The SHF’s Caldecott Hill events will take place over the first two weekends. Visitors will be treated to a festival village with a flea market and food stalls, as well as guided tours by television stars and crew. There will also be a performance by Cake Theatrical Productions titled Studio 6, which revisits some of Mediacorp’s famous shows such as The Little Nyonya, Under One Roof, and Growing Up.
The exhibition TV50 – which looks at Singapore’s broadcast history and culture from the 1960s and was previously shown at the National Museum of Singapore – will also be presented. At some point, stars from Mediacorp’s upcoming blockbuster Channel 8 drama The Lead are planning to drop by.
A set at Caldecott Broadcast Centre’s Studio 6, where many shows were filmed. (Photo: Yeo Kai Ting)
The historic Caldecott Hill is the first location for the festival’s new SHF Takes Over! programme.
“Through the years, we’ve seen how people have been very excited to be brought to new places or spaces they don’t normally get to go to, so we decided to try out this new initiative,” said Christie Chua, the festival’s creative director.
Caldecott was a perfect and timely choice as a first location. “Last year, we found out that most of Mediacorp was already moving (to the new Mediacorp Campus), so we thought this was a very good place to bring people.”
She also pointed out it was a place rich in history. Aside from being the site of pepper and gambier plantations, the area was also named after Andrew Caldecott, a British colonial administrator (hence, Andrew Road). In the 1930s, the first broadcasting station by the British Malayan Broadcasting Corporation was set up, which would morph into Radio Television Singapore, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, Television Corporation of Singapore, and, eventually, Mediacorp.
After 80 years at Caldecott Hill, Mediacorp recently completed its move to its new Mediacorp Campus in one-north. (Photo: Calvin Oh)
FROM ZOE TO ZOO, AND MORE
Aside from Caldecott Hill, another unusual place the festival will head for is the Singapore Zoo, where there will be a trail, where people can learn more about some of its “heritage” occupants, such as Inuka the polar bear, Omar the white tiger, Komali the elephant and Astove the giant tortoise.
Introducing events that look at the world of broadcast and entertainment, as well as animals, is a way of expanding one’s idea of what heritage is all about, said Chua.
“That’s what we want to share with people; that after all these years, these are part of our heritage and the whole mind map of Singapore.”
One of the Singapore Zoo’s most senior occupants, the polar bear Inuka, is in the heritage spotlight this year. (Photo: Reuters)
SHF events will also take place at areas such as Little India, Bukit Pasoh, the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) and along the Singapore River.
At Little India, there will be events such as a Ramayana performance, food trails with celebrity chefs, among others. Meanwhile, the clans and associations at Bukit Pasoh will also be participating in various events, and there will be a special focus on Ann Siang Hill. Among the shows are a Taiwanese puppet group.
The Satay Club. (Photo: National Archives Singapore)
The Asian Civilisations Museum will be the focal point of events along the Singapore River on the final weekend, where hawker culture – including a nod to the Empress Place Food Centre and the Satay Club in the vicinity – will be revived through installations and exhibitions. Across the river, the Fullerton Hotel will be holding a performance tour through its area.
Meanwhile, the NMS will also look at other unique places in its festival-related events. Among these is a multimedia exhibition of works by mural artist Yip Yew Chong. Known for his murals found in Kampong Glam and Tiong Bahru, these will be given an animated touch at the museum’s Gallery 10 space.