29 hrs. 40 mins.
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Hard hitting and controversial classic BBC drama series, based on real life experiences.
Tenko is the powerful story of a disparate group of women whose lives are changed forever when they are taken by the Japanese as prisoners of war after the fall of Singapore in 1941.
A total of thirty episodes were produced between 1981 and 1984, followed by a one-off special (which was twice the length of the other episodes), Tenko Reunion, in 1985. The series dealt with the experiences of British, Australian and Dutch women who were held in a Japanese internment camp on an occupied island between Singapore and Australia. Having been separated from their husbands, herded into makeshift holding camps and largely forgotten by the British War Office, the women have to learn to cope with appalling living conditions, malnutrition, disease, violence and death.
Tenko was created by Lavinia Warner after she had conducted research into the internment of nursing corps officer Margot Turner (1910–1993) for an edition of This Is Your Life and was convinced of the dramatic potential of the stories of women prisoners of the Japanese. Owing to high production costs, only the first two episodes of the first series were filmed on location in Singapore. For the majority of series 1 and 2, set in the camp, the programme was filmed in a specially constructed set in Dorset. Hankley Common was also used. The series takes its name from the Japanese word “tenko” which means “roll-call”. POWs and internees in Japanese-run camps had regular roll-calls, where they had to line up and number off or were counted in Japanese.
This twelve disc set contains all thirty episodes from Series One to Three plus the feature length Reunion Special.
Key characters include:
Marion Jefferson (Ann Bell): the wife of an army colonel
Beatrice Mason (Stephanie Cole): a stern, officious doctor
Rosie Millar (Stephanie Beacham): a snooty Englishwoman
Kate Norris (Claire Oberman): a brash Australian nurse
Domenica Van Meyer (Elizabeth Chambers): a vain, selfish Dutch woman
Christina Campbell (Emily Bolton): a mixed-race (Chinese/Scottish) young woman.
Dorothy Bennett (Veronica Roberts): a young working-class housewife
Sister Ulrica (Patricia Lawrence)—a formidable Dutch nun.
• The Tenko Story
• Cast Filmographies