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Lavinia Warner


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3 series and 2 TV films for BBC. Created by Lavinia Warner. One of the worlds’ most successful drama series, about women prisoners of the Japanese. It was conceived when Lavinia was in the Far East making WOMEN IN CAPTIVITY, a documentary for OMNIBUS. She had put forward this idea after bonding with a group of survivors she had re-united on a THIS IS YOUR LIFE programme.

In September 2005, TENKO featured on BBC’s DRAMA CONNECTIONS series. Important in TV history for being the first drama to feature actresses in ensemble in tough conditions, and for bringing a forgotten story to the screen, Tenko also brought in viewing figures of 18 million.


Commissioned by Graeme McDonald, produced by Ken Riddington and Vere Lorrimer, written by Jill Hyem and Anne Valery, the series stars Ann Bell, Stephanie Beacham, Stephanie Cole, Louise Jameson, Bert Kwouk, Jean Anderson, Patricia Lawrence, Elizabeth Chambers, and won many awards, here and worldwide.

The story, in 32 episodes, takes us from the Fall of Singapore in 1942, when thousands of evacuating women were bombed at sea and captured, through to the war’s end in 1945, and beyond to a Tenko reunion. A disparate group, thrown together in make-shift jungle camps and fighting for their lives, the women endured a regime of harsh brutality and unremitting struggle, thousands of miles away from their comfortable lives and loved ones. Although tensions built and sickness took its toll, they began to rely on one another and their talents, courage and dreams helped them to survive.


Just as the real survivors formed a life-long bond, so art reflected real-life and the actresses and production team formed lasting friendships which result in parties and reunions to this day. It was a memorable occasion when actresses and survivors met for the first time at the launch of Lavinia’s book on the original camps, Women Beyond The Wire.

DVDs and Videos of all 3 BBC series are distributed by Acorn Media.

Drama Connections featured TENKO.
Sept. 2005 BBC Scotland


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