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 »




Complete series cast summary:
Ann Bell ...  Marion Jefferson 30 episodes, 1981-1984
Stephanie Cole ...  Dr. 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 ...  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 ...  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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Did You Know?


None of the 30 episodes were given individual titles, just ordered numerically Parts 1-10 for each series. See more »


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


Referenced in Raised by Wolves: Little Orphan Mannie (2015) See more »

User Reviews

Not Just a Woman's Movie
4 March 2003 | by audibleSee all my reviews

This and The Winds of War/War and Remembrance are outstanding examples of movies that get to the heart of the topic they portray. By all standards TENKO is actually superior due to the raw, less over produced, values.

I watched the original series by happenchance, just flicking through the channels to see what was on (yes, a very male thing to do) when I came across this series. As a lover of anything to do with this time period I stuck around for a few minutes... a fateful few minutes, because I got stuck into what I now consider to be the best drama television has produced.

I credit the superb cast, standouts all. Unlike most American movies, there are no major names so each actor stands equally in the spotlight and makes you believe the awful events are actually happening. I don't know that I could endure what these ladies went through, I would suspect not. I do have the epilogue movie, TENKO Reunion on tape (lousy copy), so at least I can revisit these characters when I want to, even if only through a lot of video noise.

So why is this series not available on DVD or tape in North America? I can only think that someone somewhere is deciding, even as I write this, that it is high time that a release date is set. Wishful thinking? I hope not!

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Australia | UK


English | Japanese

Release Date:

22 October 1981 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Tenko 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
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