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"I wasn't extra talented and I wouldn't say I'm a person of great beauty.
"At that point of time, they needed a girl-next-door who was approachable," says Tan, who was dubbed Channel 8's Wu Jie, or "fifth sister" in Mandarin, ranking behind Zoe Tay, Fann Wong, Ann Kok and Phyllis Quek.
He is currently single, but was married to an air stewardess for six years before they split in 2009.
He declines to divulge more information, but says he has no regrets in his life.
Besides hosting programmes, he also played a number of major roles on Channel 8 dramas - and that was what he found tough to handle.
"Memorising all those lines in Mandarin - that was really hard for me.
"I never burnt my bridges with the television station and I didn't mind doing some projects here and there.
It's fun to go back and work with old friends," he says. Zack Zainal, 48, divisional vice-president of group security at Emirates Airlines Zack Zainal still gets love from female fans - but only those of a certain age group.
"The Commissioner of Police gave me a special dispensation to continue my involvement in the performing arts in my free time," he recalls.Since 2003, he has been working for Emirates Airlines in Dubai, where he is now the divisional vice-president of group security.