Having gone from being a prestigious anchorman and journalistic icon in Taiwan in the early 1980s to what netizens have dubbed “the most prominent narrator in history,” 72-year-old Sheng Chu-ju (盛竹如) has thrown off the shackles of professional journalism to show the public his true colors.
Once an anchorman for the reputed TTV, one of the country’s oldest TV stations, Sheng was crowned the best anchorperson at Taiwan’s Golden Bell Awards in 1982 and 1983.
However, in 1997, he took a leap of faith with a new career as the lead narrator for the Taiwanese crime drama Taiwan Chameleon (台灣變色龍), the first TV production in the country that recreated various civil and criminal cases with mostly moderate, but sometimes exaggerated modifications.
Speaking in an unhurried manner and with clear articulation, Sheng incorporated his journalistic expertise into his narration for the crime drama and often intrigued audiences with his most memorable line: “Let’s keep looking (讓我們繼續看下去).”
His charisma and riveting voiceovers helped the TV program build a large, loyal audience base and garnered ratings as high as 45 percent of the total audience share at its peak.
Sheng decided to take a second leap of faith in the 1970s to make his name in the entertainment industry jungle.
Having been a special guest on the popular Taiwanese entertainment talk show Kang Hsi Lai Le (康熙來了), a narrator for home furniture commercials and a guest star in a music video of two-man comedy band One Two Free (自由發揮), Sheng may be a relative newcomer as an entertainer, but he certainly knows how to work his subtle humor and catch the audience’s attention with a playful side that he had seldom revealed before.
While Sheng, who appears to take his time speaking, is hardly the first to come to mind at the mention of the word “speediness,” he himself may suggest otherwise.
“I am more of a forward if we are speaking in terms of basketball players,” Sheng said.
“Especially when it comes to playing mahjong, I am always ahead of others when it’s my chance to win ... only the other three players are usually old fellows already in their 80s,” he said.
Sheng’s strong sense of responsibility to his profession was clearly demonstrated when he survived a horrific helicopter crash.
After the chopper plunged to the ground, Sheng’s first priority was not to address his injuries, but to conduct an on-the-spot interview for his TV news station.
However, the man who was willing to endure injuries for the sake of work is also the same man who missed a scheduled news report because he was too occupied drinking and watching basketball with martial arts novelist Gu Lung (古龍).
“Most of our public image on TV is just a pretense,” Sheng said.
Speaking about the sensational story line of the crime drama that many deemed to be his “magnum opus,” Sheng said he was also concerned that the shows “set some bad examples.”
“When a crime is recreated in detail, the chance of it being imitated is higher. However, the truth is that most news reports on criminal cases nowadays tend to be far more revealing than what we have seen in the shows,” Sheng said.
As for what the future holds, Sheng said he did not set any limits for himself and was ready to embrace every opportunity in life.