Before making her mark as one of the main writers of Tenko (1981-84), the BBC Television drama that attracted up to 15 million viewers, Anne Valery had enjoyed a successful career as an actress and television presenter.
While she was helping to write Angels (1975-83), a television series about a group of student nurses, she met another writer, Jill Hyem. Together, they wrote 28 of the 30 episodes of Tenko, based on the experiences of a group of women held in a Japanese internment camp after the fall of Singapore in 1942.
After working as a BBC producer’s secretary, Valery won a part in the Sid Field comedy Cardboard Cavalier (1949), followed in the same year by Kind Hearts and Coronets, in which she played the mistress of one of the eight characters Alec Guinness portrayed.
She then moved to the ITV company Associated Rediffusion, where she was one of the hosts of The Monday Club. By the end of the 1960s, she was running a shop in west London, selling bric-a-brac and second-hand clothes, when she was encouraged to write several volumes of autobiography.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Valery was a prolific writer, working on Crossroads and Emmerdale and the comedy Nanny Knows Best, starring Beryl Reid. Tenko, a Japanese word meaning ‘roll-call,’ was the brainchild of Lavinia Warner, who had researched the internment of a female nursing corps officer for an edition of This is Your Life, and was convinced of its dramatic potential.
The series was wound around a group of British, Dutch and Australian women, largely forgotten by the War Office, who had to learn to cope with malnutrition, disease, violence and death. Valery and Hyem carried out extensive research for the programme, interviewing survivors of the camps, studying diaries that had been kept and immersing themselves in archives.
Anne Valery, who was born on February 24, 1926, died on April 29, aged 87.