After the Japanese invasion of Singapore in February 1942, a group of British, Dutch and Australian women are held in a Japanese internment camp on a Japanese-occupied island between Singapore and Australia.


Lavinia Warner




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
Stephanie Cole ...  Beatrice Mason / ... 30 episodes, 1981-1984
Claire Oberman Claire Oberman ...  Kate Norris 30 episodes, 1981-1984
Emily Bolton ...  Christina Campbell 27 episodes, 1981-1984
Elizabeth Chambers Elizabeth Chambers ...  Mrs. Domenica Van Meyer / ... 26 episodes, 1981-1984
Veronica Roberts Veronica Roberts ...  Dorothy Bennett 24 episodes, 1981-1984
Patricia Lawrence Patricia Lawrence ...  Sister Ulrica 21 episodes, 1981-1984
Jean Anderson ...  Lady Jocelyn 'Joss' Holbrook / ... 20 episodes, 1982-1984
Stephanie Beacham ...  Rose Millar 19 episodes, 1981-1982
Burt Kwouk ...  Major Yamauchi / ... 19 episodes, 1981-1984
Eiji Kusuhara ...  Lt. Sato / ... 17 episodes, 1981-1984
Takashi Kawahara Takashi Kawahara ...  Shinya 17 episodes, 1981-1982
Takahiro Oba Takahiro Oba ...  Kasaki / ... 16 episodes, 1981-1984
Louise Jameson ...  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 | History | War


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Parents Guide:

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Australia | UK


English | Japanese

Release Date:

22 October 1981 (Australia) See more »

Filming Locations:

Dorset, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(30 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Mrs. Van Meyer's pet songbird, which appears in season one, is named for the actress Simone Simon. See more »


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


Featured in Peep Show: Funeral (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

1 bad thing about Tenko: unavailable in North America
18 February 2004 | by jallenkemp1977See all my reviews

I remember watching this with my mom when I was 12 & it still resonates with me 15 years later. There aren't very many shows/movies concerning the lives of women during World War II, and I seriously doubt anything in the future could top Tenko in terms of quality. Quality of cast, story, set design, make-up, etc. In the States, Tenko aired in the late 80's on the Arts & Entertainment Network (aka 'A&E'). During that time, A&E was primarily an outlet for WWII and British programing. It was with Tenko that I got my first taste of what the BBC could accomplish. I'd also recommend a movie called 'Bent' for its depiction of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. Although the plot is fictional, the premise is based on fact. 'Bent' may not be the best WWII movie but it's interesting because, like Tenko did for women, it sheds light on the plight of gays in WWII. As fascinating as Bent may be, it doesn't hold a candle to Tenko. Perhaps one day it will be released here in North America.

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