ITV To Adapt J.G. Farrell’s Singapore Grip

ITV has announced six-part drama The Singapore Grip, adapted by Christopher Hampton (Atonement) from the novel by J.G. Farrell about a British family living in Singapore during World War II.

Singapore, 1941. Rubber merchant Walter Blackett, his wife Sylvia, ruthless daughter Joan and spoilt son Monty live a life of luxury, seemingly untouched by the troubles in Europe.

With Walter’s business partner Mr Webb’s health failing, Walter needs to ensure that the future of their firm is secure. He decides that Webb’s son Matthew is the perfect match for Joan, and Joan is happy to agree, but Matthew’s idealism leaves Walter increasingly suspicious as Matthew himself falls under the spell of Vera Chiang, a mysterious Chinese refugee.

Christopher Hampton said: “As a great admirer and, eventually, a friend of J.G.Farrell, I was delighted to be invited to adapt The Singapore Grip, a panoramic account of the disastrous loss of Singapore to the Japanese invaders in 1942.”

“Close analysis of this great novel has only deepened my enthusiasm for the skill with which Farrell has combined the private story of the machinations of the Blackett family and their struggle to preserve and expand their prosperous rubber business with the unfolding of the cataclysmic events to which they remain totally oblivious until it’s too late.”

“Matthew Webb, our bespectacled protagonist, an idealistic innocent abroad, lands in the middle of all this, to find himself fiercely pursued by two beautiful women – an English heiress and a Chinese adventurer – and his story, with its tumultuous backdrop, is told in a style with echoes of Tolstoy and Evelyn Waugh.”

The Singapore Grip begins filming in the Far East this autumn.