Tenko (TV series)
22nd October 1981 – 12th November 1984,26th December 1985
Tenko is a television drama, co-produced by the BBC and the ABC. 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 captured after the fall of Singapore in February 1942, after the Japanese invasion, and held in a Japanese internment camp on a Japanese-occupied island between Singapore and Australia. Tenko dramatises the experiences of European women interned by the Japanese militia following the invasion of Singapore in 1942. 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. Aside from the first two episodes, set in Singapore, which were written by Paul Wheeler, the series was written by Jill Hyem and Anne Valery.
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" (点呼/てんこ) 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.