REFLECTIONS, PERSPECTIVES

Behind the scenes: Here’s what I learnt from being interviewed on TV

Smile more, be more confident, and remember your soundbites

Shawn Seah
5 min readJan 18, 2024

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The writer being filmed while speaking at the Punggol Regional Library, Singapore. Photograph taken by Shawn’s team.

One day, I received a call from a TV producer. She was doing a documentary about parks and Gardens by the Bay, and wanted to talk about green spaces.

She explained that, among other things, she wanted to find out if I could talk about the historical Bendemeer House.

I know a little bit about this topic, because I had interviewed people who lived there before.

I’ve spoken about my family history in Singapore several times before and covered topics like this, so I came highly recommended.

In fact, below is an image that I had commissioned an artist to produce on Bendemeer House and its garden.

An artist’s impression of historical Bendemeer House in the 1900s. Artwork is owned by the author.

The producer was ecstatic.

Yes, she wanted me to talk about the gardens at Bendemeer House (also known as Whampoa House, as that was its previous name). The house was amazing, but she wanted me to talk about the flowers, plants, and expansive grounds and surrounding plantations.

We also discussed the other key messages she wanted to include.

No problem; I am always happy to help by lending a helping voice.

To caveat, I am not actually an expert or professional on green spaces or historical houses. I’m not an architect, a gardener, or a botanist.

In fact, my talent and abilities are quite different — I can kill any plant just by taking care of it. Purely watering the plant would kill it.

My father has long accepted the fact that he is the only person with the legendary “green fingers” in our family. And our famous ancestor, Singapore’s King of Gambier and Pepper (1805–1883), would probably not have approved of my murderous talent.

However, as I am a heritage enthusiast, who has written a few simple books on family history, the producer thought that it would be nice that I could come on the…

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Shawn Seah

Singaporean writer and public speaker, passionate about education, social issues, and local history and community stories.