50 Years of Singapore Television – An Exhibition

Celebrating Singapore Television 50 Years of Success through a series of exhibitions

Singapore Drama shows

Television has turned into one of the most accessed forms of media in today’s culture, and it came as no surprise when we started to use it for an emotive form of entertainment rather than purely disseminating news and information. Homegrown entertainment on the small-screen has grown so prolific that these shows reflect and also become a part of our culture. We review some of the milestones and most memorable dramas in Singapore’s television history.


“Seletar Robbery” or “实里达大劫案”
aired on 24 July 1982, is considered to be Singapore’s first locally produced Chinese language television drama. This marks the birth of local drama production in Mandarin. The crime drama theme also continued to be explored in many of Singapore’s successive TV dramas.

The First Star Awards ceremony on 20 February 1994
represents the start of a tradition in the modern pop culture of Singapore where we recognise and celebrate the best talents in local dramas. This not only increased the proliferation of local acting talents but also that of television production.

“Masters of the Sea”
aired on 5 October 1994 was Singapore’s first locally produced English language television drama. As English language is our official administrative language, English dramas crossed cultural borders within Singapore’s diverse racial groups and the entertainment they accessed.

“Under One Roof”
aired on 21 Feb 1995, was the first English language  sitcom, introducing another genre of television series, comedy, that was more light-hearted and relatable than emotive. It grew to become one of Singapore’s most loved local productions due to its bright, endearing, and accessible characters.

“Amali Thumali”
aired in 1997 was the world’s first Tamil sitcom, and was also produced in Singapore. This cemented Singapore’s role as a pioneer in television production in a regional context, as well as creating content for the multitude of cultures that make up our country.

Singapore also first started exporting popular local drama serials to Taiwanese cable TV via TCSI (Television Corporation of Singapore International), such as “Return of the Condor Heroes”, which catapulted the popularity of local TV stars in the international scene.

9 December 2007 then saw Singapore’s 25th year of television dramas which was celebrated via retrospectives in local magazine publication a special commemorative book and a 3-hour variety extravaganza that included an award presentation to beloved local TV stars.


One very important way of the proliferation of local television was the expanding of local drama production into a large variety of genres. Over the years, we have seen many different styles and themes being explored through the myriad of genres in TV dramas. It can also be considered a celebration of the many facets of Singapore culture as each drama focuses on characters engaged in different subcultures or occupations.


Crime drama


Period/historical drama

Medical drama

Family drama

Teen/school drama

Sports drama


Branching from television to the internet

In the new digital age, television has taken on another incarnation on the internet. With the arrival of xinmsn.com and Toggle, viewers can access television shows on demand in the form of catch-up TV, as well as exclusive online content such as web series’. This marks local television’s relevancy with technological advancements as well as increasing accessibility to viewers who are on-the-go or with conflicting schedules.

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