“You are now in Japanese prison camp. British have been conquered by superior Nippon forces. You are no longer proud colonialists. You are fourth class women!”
The BBC’s women prisoner-of-war drama Tenko is one of the most well-loved TV series of all time. Between 1981 and 1985 as many as 16 million viewers regularly tuned in each week, as leader of the British prisoners Marion Jefferson (Ann Bell) squared up to fearsome Japanese commandant Yamauchi(Burt Kwouk); the actions of spoilt socialite Rose Millar (Stephanie Beacham) and mouthy cockney Blanche (Louise Jameson) led to fearsome punishments; and Dr Beatrice Mason (Stephanie Cole) desperately tried to save as many prisoners as she could from disease and starvation amidst appalling conditions.
Tenko was the first of its kind; a prime time series with a virtually all female cast, it boasted some of the most developed and believable characters to ever grace our television screens and tackled taboo subjects such as abortion, euthanasia and prostitution through its compelling storylines.
This new book by Andy Priestner is a comprehensive celebration of Tenko, detailing how it came to be commissioned, the filming in the UK and Malaysia and the real-life historical background behind the series. With a foreword by Tenko creator Lavinia Warner and extensive contributions from script writers Jill Hyem and Anne Valery, the book explroes why they think it captured the imagination of the British viewing public so completely. There are also contributions from the series’ largely female ensemble cast, and in particular actresses Stephanie Beacham, Stephanie Cole, Louise Jameson and Ann Bell who talk about the enduring friendships they all made, why it was such a special drama to work on and how it changed their lives.
Remembering Tenko is lavishly illustrated throughout with official and many never before seen behind -the-scenes photos, as well as sketches by the cast and the series original titles designer who also provides the iconic front cover.
Remembering Tenko by Andy Priestner is published in Paperback by Classic TV Press at £19.99. www.classictvpress.co.uk