updated 24 May 2013, 08:25
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Thu, Mar 14, 2013
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The Big Split
by Mervin Tay

SINGAPORE - She dropped the bomb, and stunned everyone with her rather sudden announcement - including, it seems, her ex-boyfriend.

Popular TV actress Joanne Peh revealed that she has split up with Singapore-based Italian-American DJ-actor Bobby Tonelli.

The announcement surprised many, including MediaCorp's own magazine 8 Days, which splashed the news on the cover of its latest issue on Sunday.

"We've actually not been together for... a while," Peh, 28, said of Tonelli, 37. The couple had a high-profile relationship for four years.

Although she could not pinpoint the exact date they split, she said they had grown apart and that it had slowly dawned on her that she "does not know him".

"I don't know what he's thinking," she told the magazine.

"I don't think he knows what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, what I'm going through either."

Explaining her decision to come clean about their relationship, Peh, who said she went through"a period of grieving, crying and struggling", said she was "tired of pretending everything is okay when it isn't".

She said no third party was involved.

She also said the break-up was not because she was "more successful than he is" - just that he was not "the right guy".

When The New Paper contacted Tonelli on Monday, he said he was not ready to talk about the split.  

However, a source close to him revealed that Tonelli was "a little upset" by Peh's interview.

Said the source: "He didn't expect the interview to be so big and he wasn't pre-empted about it. I think it was unexpected not only for him but people around him. But he's not angry, just a little upset."

When TNP tried to reach her on Monday, Peh did not answer her phone.

The pair met on the set of the hit 2008 MediaCorp drama The Little Nyonya, where she played a demure girl and he a lawyer.

They appeared together in public often and spoke lovingly and openly about each other in interviews.

In January, they even did a television commercial together for a condominium.

In an interview with TNP in December 2011, Tonelli said he was ready to propose to Peh and was just waiting for the right time.

He added that she was the one for him and said: "I'm not looking for anyone else, I'm as happy as can be. We both know we are invested in this. We want to be with each other and we want to have a future together."

However, Peh's views seemed markedly different.

Last August, she told TNP that she was not ready to walk down the aisle and that she no longer had a fairy tale notion of two people living happily ever after.

She said this new outlook could be due to a combination of factors - she has played out the wedding fantasy on television and she has seen relationships crumble around her.  

Never perfect

"Or it may just be a matter of growing up and seeing people around me getting married, divorced, remarried," she said.

"All these only make me more aware that a relationship is never perfect, even after getting married."

Tonelli's relationship with Peh is his fourth. He has had three relationships before this - two with Caucasian women in the US and then with a Eurasian in Singapore.

According to The New Paper's source, Tonelli and Peh's relationship faced issues, just like for any other couple.

The source also said Tonelli feels it is better for him to keep a low profile at the moment.

"It might be a couple of months before he wants to talk to the media about the split."

If fellow celebrities were as surprised as most people by the news, they were not prepared to show it.

Irene Ang, who owns Fly Entertainment, the company that manages Tonelli, simply said: "We will not be commenting on this."

987FM DJ Rosalyn Lee, who hosts the morning show Rude Awakening with Tonelli from 6am to 10am on weekdays, also declined to comment.

She first asked: "Is this about Bobby and Joanne?"

When asked for her thoughts on their split, she said she could not comment on the matter.

Would Tonelli be talking about the split on the morning show?

Lee said: "I really can't comment."

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