WWII drama follows a group of British, Dutch, and Australian women; from the bombing of Singapore to their years spent in prison camps and eventually to the end of the war where the survivors try to readjust to civilian life.






3   2   1  
1984   1982   1981  
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
Ann Bell ...
 Marion Jefferson (30 episodes, 1981-1984)
 Beatrice Mason / ... (30 episodes, 1981-1984)
Claire Oberman ...
 Kate Norris (30 episodes, 1981-1984)
Emily Bolton ...
 Christina Campbell (27 episodes, 1981-1984)
Elizabeth Chambers ...
 Mrs. Domenica Van Meyer / ... (26 episodes, 1981-1984)
Veronica Roberts ...
 Dorothy Bennett (24 episodes, 1981-1984)
Patricia Lawrence ...
 Sister Ulrica (21 episodes, 1981-1984)
 Lady Jocelyn 'Joss' Holbrook / ... (20 episodes, 1982-1984)
 Rose Millar (19 episodes, 1981-1982)
 Major Yamauchi / ... (19 episodes, 1981-1984)
Eiji Kusuhara ...
 Lt. Sato / ... (17 episodes, 1981-1984)
Takashi Kawahara ...
 Shinya (17 episodes, 1981-1982)
Takahiro Oba ...
 Kasaki / ... (16 episodes, 1981-1984)
 Blanche Simmons (13 episodes, 1981-1982)


Three 10x55min series. The first series set in 1941, a group of English and Australian women from Singapore are shipwrecked while they try to escape the Japanese invasion. The survivors are captured and put in a prison camp. They and their Dutch companions must all make drastic adjustments to and discoveries about their lives. In the second series, the group is moved to a new camp with a completely new pecking order and a particularly vicious camp leader. At the beginning of the third series, the prisoners are liberated and must re-adjust themselves to live in Singapore, in the aftermath of the war. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


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Parents Guide:







Release Date:

22 October 1981 (Australia)  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(30 episodes)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The title comes from the Japanese word meaning "roll-call", the procedure where inmates were lined up, counted, and had to bow to their captors. See more »


[repeated lines]
Mrs. Domenica Van Meyer: How dare you speak to me this way?
See more »


Referenced in Drama Connections: Tenko (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

4 December 2005 | by (NYC, USA & Melbourne, Australia) – See all my reviews

For those people in the US who want to see Tenko again (or even for the first time as I don't know if it was ever on PBS), you can simply order it from Amazon.co.uk and have it sent over. It will take about a week to arrive. Make sure that you have a multi-region DVD player though! I have almost finished with the last season, and it is as good as I remember - perhaps even better. For those new to this series, the first episode of season 1 is a bit clunky, but give it time and space.

The story and characters evolve through 3 prison camps in seasons 1 and 2. I still get chills down my spine remembering the revelation of how Rose was betrayed in season 2.

Season 3 records the end of the war and the difficulties adjusting to a new life of freedom (??).

The third season DVD set also includes the reunion, set in 1950.

I think each season of Tenko is best seen continuously - say over a weekend. It is like reading a good book. But give it time between seasons. In many ways, each season is self-contained. Best to give it at least a few days between them.

Invest in this series. You will be ever grateful that you did.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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