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Tenko - Series 1 Complete [1981] [DVD]

Ann Bell , Stephanie Cole    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Tenko - Series 1 Complete [1981] [DVD] + The Real Tenko: Extraordinary True Stories of Women Prisoners of the Japanese + Remembering Tenko: A Celebration of the Classic TV Drama Series
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Product details

  • Actors: Ann Bell, Stephanie Cole, Claire Oberman, Emily Bolton, Elizabeth Chambers
  • Writers: Lavinia Warner
  • Format: Box set, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Acorn
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Jun 2003
  • Run Time: 516 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000096KEZ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,894 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

The entire first series of the BBC drama which follows the fortunes of a group of women held in a Japanese prison camp in the Second World War. As the months pass, the women inside the Japanese prison camp find their yearning for home and loved ones is becoming even stronger. Their struggle and pain creates strong bonds of friendship and bitter rivalries. However, some of the women are accused of collaborating with their captors, and new questions of survival arise - like how far will they go to stay alive? Even though rations of food and water are in short supply, the women are beginning to feel stronger, physically and mentally. Visions of escape begin to beckon, however, when vicious rumours begin to circulate and a long-awaited birth ends in tragedy. When the life of one of the women is at stake, the rest of the prisoners forget about the tension and bitterness that surfaced after the failed escape. A new, stronger community is born, and together they enjoy some songs and laughter in their Christmas celebrations, and pull together even further in the face of the long march to the new camp.


Box sets created prior to 1 November 2011 had the episodes in a non sequential order.
Box sets created after 1 November 2011 have the episodes in a sequential order.
All stock now sold by Amazon are in a sequential order, however this cannot be guaranteed for other sellers. --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent & not faulty 6 Jan 2012
I was given this set for Christmas (purchased in December 2011) and having read the earlier reviews just thought it would be useful to say that all discs played in the correct sequence and without any problems. Also, in response to an earlier question, yes it does include the reunion.
We thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this series and I think the complete boxed set is very good value for money.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the best! 23 Sep 2003
Tenko is, of course, the best thing the BBC ever did. I don't begrudge my television licence fee, because I have this fine set of programmes to watch.
Tenko series one saw the women fall into Japanese hands, and end up in a prison camp. Series two moves the tension up a notch: there were some scenes I watched from the edge of my seat, and some scenes so powerful that I involuntarily held my breath.
Moved to a new camp, the prisoners find themselves in a completely new situation. While conditions are better (running water and mattresses for a start!), it soon becomes clear that the new camp has a completely different pecking order, and our friends have no real power in the grand scheme.
Alongside a few new characters, some of the old faces from series one have gone elsewhere. The fear, loss and tragedy that our friends suffer, separated from some of their group and thrust into a new situation with new rules, makes painfully real viewing. Among the new characters are two who linger in the memory more than most, and may even be Tenko's best. The malicious Miss Hasan, right-hand woman to the commandant, is the very image of evil. Spiteful, cruel and vicious, she's completely unforgettable. Alongside her, the prisoners' leader, Verna Johnson, seems like a pussycat: beware that, no matter how grand and genteel she may seem, no-one ever argues with Verna.
Picking up from the cliffhanger at the end of the previous series, right up to its own devastating finale, Tenko series two is a masterpiece of television, full of shocks and twists. Please buy this. It is perfect in every way.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best TV dramas ever made comes to DVD 13 Oct 2008
By Dr. Rich Boden VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
They don't make television like this anymore. A true ensemble cast (mostly female), all of whom are very good actors. The story is great, the plots are great and it's got just enough of an air of kitsch about it to make it even better than if it was too well-made. Notice the bamboo plant which moves from scene to scene, the wobbley flats which represent "sky" outside of the hut windows and some of the campest lines ever to grace television. Although "Tenko" does have its kitsch qualities, the absolute brutal and tragic nature of the POW camps is there from the very beginning - showing how women of all social classes were brought at once to the same level as "fourth class women".

The DVDs unfortunately contain no "extras" which is a pity, but you do get every episode of the show (30 x 1 hour episodes!) and the feature-length special "Tenko Reunion" which was set (and filmed) a few years after the original series ended.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable 28 Jun 2003
Tenko is simply one of the best productions that the BBC has ever come up with. The intelligence and complexity of the script shines over the course of the three series and follow-up, Tenko Reunion. The three-dimensional characters, the depth of emotion and the amazing horrors and tragedies suffered in Japanese prison camps shown, are completely gripping. The ten episodes included on these discs comprise the first series, and are a great start. Life before the war, in the lazy expat community of Singapore, turning through invasion and disaster into the misery of prison. The series ends with a big cliffhanger, leading into series two (released soon, please!), and should be seen by everyone. Don't just dismiss it because it has an almost all-female cast. It's a masterpiece. The "special features", though, are lazy and feeble.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Drama 4 Mar 2007
I remember watching this series when it was originally broadcastback when I was in my very early teens.

This stands out as one of the greatest british drama series of the last 30 years and certainly ranks as one of the best british series to have ever been made.

Focusing on a group of ex-patriot women living in Singapore at the outbreak of hostilities on that continent and focusing on their trials under the brutal regime of their captors, and the bonds that remain between them right through to their liberation captivity I would advise anyone that is considering buying this DVD to buy it, at times difficult to watch, this is a must have.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great set 15 Nov 2006
this series was brilliant to watch first time round,now i'm older it's even have the whole set is brilliant.War time women coping with horrendous conditions in a japanese prisoner of war camp shows just what women had to go through.A superb cast and series.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality BBC drama 3 May 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This quality BBC drama which ran into several series and a finale was highly popular in the early 1980s and presented a fictionalised story based on fact followed the lives of a number of women taken prisoner during the Second World War in the Far East and kept in prison camps by the Japanese and what the effect of the deprivation had on them.
This is BBC drama at its best. Unlike other fictionlised presentations of this subject eg the film version with Virginia MacKenna of 'A Town Like Alice', the hardships faced by these women, from dealing with amputations without any medical help, day to day living on a limited diet, infections and disease, death itself, the loneliness and the suffering, is dealt with realistically and sensitively. The characters are superbly presented by a fine cast; it could be argued that for many of these actors 'Tenko' was their finest hour. The viewer is made to reflect on how they would have coped in a similar situation and are drawn into the story.
Although ostensibly a 'women's' drama, my whole family were hooked from the first episode - it is just so well done - and the next generation (both sexes and now aged in their late teens/early 20s) are just as interested!
The opportunity to purchase this compelling drama on DVD should not to be missed and is a story that can be returned to time and time again. I warn you though, you will want to purchase the whole set of DVDs to know what happened to Marion, Bea, Sister Ulrika etc!
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