Shogun (NBC 1980, Richard Chamberlain, Toshirō Mifune)

Based on the doorstep of a hugely best selling novel by James Clavell Shogun is set in the early part of the 17th century and was in part a reworking of the real life experiences of Elizabethan seaman Will Adams, Chamberlain plays English Pilot-Major John Blackthorne who finds himself stranded in Japan following a shipwreck, at first highly resistant to the Japanese way of life Blackthorne finds himself falling under the Samurai spell, becoming friends with feudal warlord Toranaga (played by the great Toshiro Mifune) and taking the name Anjin-San, before long Blackthorne has also begun an affair with the married Lady Mariko (Yoko Shimada).

As time goes on Blackthorne finds himself caught in the political games played by Toranaga and his chief rival Ishido (Nabuo Kaneko) as the pair compete to become Shogun (the supreme Samurai warrior). Blackthorne has to decide where his loyalties and his heart lies.

High budget and largely shot on location Shogun is an engrossing watch, exciting and dramatic. Besides Chamberlain and the high profile Japanese cast the serial also includes many well known UK actors (Michael Hordern, Alan Badel, there’s even a small role for Sgt Bob Cryer from The Bill) and even Lord of the Rings dwarf John Rhys Davies.

Very popular the serial swept the boards at the awards (3 Emmys, 3 Golden Globes).

production details

Country: USA | NBC
Release Year: 1980

Creators: James Clavell, Eric Bercovici,

Richard Chamberlain as Pilot-Major John Blackthorne / Anjin-san
Toshirō Mifune as Lord Yoshi Toranaga
Orson Welles as Narrator
Michael Hordern as Friar Domingo
Alan Badel as Father Dell’Aqua
Leon Lissek as Father Sebastio
Vladek Sheybal as Captain Ferriera
George Innes as Johann Vinck
Damien Thomas as Father Alvito
Hideo Takamatsu as Lord Buntarō
Hiromi Senno as Fujiko
Nobuo Kaneko as Ishido
John Rhys-Davies as Vasco Rodrigues
Yoko Shimada as Lady Toda Buntaro – Mariko

Frankie Sakai as Yabu
Takeshi Ôbayashi as Urano
Yûki Meguro as Omi
Hiroshi Hasegawa as Galley Captain
Akira Sera as Old Gardener
Atsuko Sano as Lady Ochiba
Miiko Taka as Kiri
Masumi Okada as Brother Michael
Edward Peel as Pieterzoon

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.