Home Television Drama Shogun


1 9 8 0 (USA)
6 x 120 minute episodes

Highly rated four-part miniseries based on James Clavell’s best-selling novel of 17th century Japan.

The series glamourised sweaty men in baggy pants and pigtails performing suicidal stabbings, head-choppings and other nastiness, with Richard Chamberlain as English navigator Captain John Blackthorne, who joined them, remaining squeaky clean and deodorised even in the dankest dungeon.

After his Dutch trading ship ran aground in a violent storm on the east coast of Japan, Blackthorne was taken prisoner by Samurai warriors. When he was released, he had to adapt to the alien Japanese culture in order to survive.

A Protestant, Blackthorne forged an alliance with Lord Toranaga (Toshiro Mifune), who mistrusted the Catholic’s gaining a foothold in Japan.

In order to help Blackthorne assimilate into Japanese culture, Toranaga assigned him a teacher and interpreter; the beautiful Lady Mariko (Yoko Shimada). Blackthorne became infatuated with her, but Mariko was already married and their budding romance was doomed.

NBC had the highest weekly Nielsen ratings in their history with Shogun. Its 26.3 average rating was the second-highest in TV history after ABC’s Roots in 1977.

Episodes utilised plenty of Japanese dialogue thus introducing “Domo Arigato” to the Western lexicon. In fact, there was so much Japanese in it that you could be forgiven for wondering what terryvision station you were watching . . .

Capt. John Blackthorne 
Richard Chamberlain
Lady Toda Buntara-Mariko 

Yoko Shimada
Lord Yoshi Toranaga 

Toshiro Mifune
Friar Domingo 

Michael Hordern
Vasco Rodriguez 

John Rhys-Davies