Review of ‘Remembering Tenko’ by Andy Priestner

An incredibly in-depth study of the TV drama Tenko (1981-4). Featuring many contributions from the people who were involved in making the programme, this is a must-read for anyone who has enjoyed watching Tenko.

The book begins with a background on the subject matter – the civilian women and children interned in camps when the Japanese took control of Singapore in 1942 – and the career of Lavinia Warner, who would eventually create a fictional TV series based on real events. This area of history had been neglected and it was meeting survivors of the camps which gave her the idea to bring these women’s experiences into public consciousness. The book then describes how the TV drama was pitched to the BBC (it was a groundbreaking show and not at all predicted to be a success), scripts written, locations scouted and cast recruited. This is followed by production diaries which demonstrate the highs and lows of filming this extraordinary show. Each episode is given a detailed review (I skipped these) and finally there is discussion of the context and legacy of Tenko. There are a generous number of photos, some of them provided by the cast.

Certainly the best TV-themed book I’ve read, one which explores its subject with passion, reverence and attention to detail.

First published in 2012 by Classic TV Press.

Leave a Reply