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ITV’s highly anticipated adaptation The Singapore Grip looks destined to be one of the must-watch dramas of the autumn.
From the makers of Poldark and World on Fire, this epic saga is based on the novel by Booker Prize winner J.G Farrell and is written by Oscar winner Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons).
When does The Singapore Grip start?
ITV has confirmed the series will begin on Sunday, September 13 at 9pm.
The series includes six episodes.
Watch the trailer
Who is in The Singapore Grip cast?
They’ve pulled out all the stops for this ambitious project with some of the biggest names in TV among the ensemble.
Olivier Award winning actor Luke Treadaway (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Ordeal By Innocence, Traitors) plays the reluctant hero Matthew Webb.
David Morrissey (The Missing, Britannia, The Walking Dead) takes the role of ruthless rubber merchant Walter Blackett, who is head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm alongside his business partner Webb (played by Charles Dance OBE - Game of Thrones, And Then There Were None).
With Webb’s health failing, Walter needs to ensure the future of their firm is secure. He decides Webb’s son Matthew is the perfect match for his spoilt daughter Joan (Georgia Blizzard).
Matthew’s idealism leaves Walter increasingly suspicious as Matthew himself falls under the spell of Vera Chiang (Elizabeth Tan), a mysterious Chinese refugee.
Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous, Trollied, Little Voice) plays Sylvia Blackett, Walter’s wife and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) plays Major Brendan Archer.
Also joining the esteemed cast are Luke Newberry (In The Flesh) playing Walter’s son Monty, Bart Edwards (UnREAL, Peep Show) as Captain James Ehrendorf and Christophe Guybet (Sakho et Mangane, Falco) as Dupigny.
Where was The Singapore Grip filmed?
ITV filmed the series on location in Malaysia. The location was chosen for its selection of period-appropriate architecture.
Recent productions filmed in Malasyia include the smash hit Crazy Rich Asians and the action drama Strike Back.
What is The Singapore Grip based on?
JG Farrell wrote the Empire Trilogy of novels: Troubles (1970), The Siege of Krishnapur (1973) and The Singapore Grip (1978) all of which dealt with different facets of colonial rule.
He received the Booker Prize in 1973, and was retrospectively awarded the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010. He died aged 44, drowning on the coast of County Cork while fishing.
Christopher Hampton, who has written the TV adaptation said: “As a great admirer and, eventually, a friend of JG 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.
More on The Singapore Grip
“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, commercial and amorous, of the Blackett family and their struggle - described with Farrell’s trademark subversive wit - 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, but still, unmistakably, the unique voice of Jim Farrell.”
Why you should be excited about The Singapore Grip
The Singapore Grip is a panoramic account of the loss of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942.
It is based on a satirical novel, which centres on a British family who control one of the colony’s leading trading companies. The six-episode series follows their story in the aftermath of Japan’s entry into the Second World War.
Oscar-winning screenwriter and playwright Christopher Hampton (of Atonement and Dangerous Liaisons fame) has adapted the novel and the cast includes Luke Treadaway, David Morrissey and Charles Dance.
Treadaway plays the “reluctant hero and innocent abroad” Matthew Webb, while Morrissey stars as the “ruthless rubber merchant” Walter Blackett, head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm alongside his business partner Mr Webb (Dance).
"It deals with incompetence because of misplaced feelings of superiority. It deals with a casual racism," says writer Christopher Hampton, who adapted J.G Farrell's 1978 novel for ITV.
"And it deals with a blindness to what’s really going on in the world. And all those things seem rather apt right now."
Talking about the character of Walter Blackett, David Morrissey said: "I thought he was an amazing character. What he would do in the pursuit of his own power was monstrous really.
When you look at it as history, you can think, ‘oh that’s terrible’. But really right here, right now, not a lot has changed
- David Morrissey
"I just found his entitlement monstrously fascinating. His racism, his surety of self in what he was doing. The world he inhabited, when you look at it as history, you can think, ‘oh that’s terrible’. But really right here, right now, not a lot has changed."
Luke Treadaway, who plays series lead Matthew Webb said: "I think while Walter is trying to maintain the status quo and make one more rubber deal, even as bombs are falling.
"Matthew is less shackled to how things have been done in the past. For that time, he would have been seen as quite progressive for an interest in workers’ rights and helping the people in the country not just the British shareholders."
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Tan, who plays Vera Chang, believes the show has a lot to say about representation, diversity and the portrayal of women.
"I really loved Vera Chang. She’s come from a place of extreme hardship, a war-torn area. She’s come from a lot of poverty and lost both her parents at a young age," said Tan
"Then she’s been travelling and surviving on her own. She’s become an independent woman and been very resourceful. And also, she’s got a soft side. She has a love of poetry and the art of making love. She is a romantic as well as being a woman with strength and power.
"She’s a fascinating character. I think it’s amazing to have this lead character in a period drama. She speaks six languages, does martial arts, she is a woman to be reckoned with. She is a true survivor and it’s a great character to play."
The Singapore Grip will air later this year on ITV.