Belfast Telegraph

Christopher Hampton to adapt The Singapore Grip for TV

The six-part dramatisation of JG Farrell’s novel will air on ITV.

Uncle Vanya Party – London
Uncle Vanya Party – London

JG Farrell’s novel The Singapore Grip is to be adapted for television by the Oscar-winning playwright behind Atonement and Dangerous Liaisons, ITV has announced.

Christopher Hampton will script the six-part drama set during the Second World War and centring on a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion.

It will be produced by Mammoth Screen, the company behind Poldark, Victoria and Witness For The Prosecution.


Set in 1941, it centres on rubber merchant Walter Blackett, his wife Sylvia, ruthless daughter Joan and spoilt son Monty, who 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 so decides that Webb’s son Matthew is the perfect match for his daughter.

However, his idealism leaves Walter increasingly suspicious as Matthew himself falls under the spell of mysterious Chinese refugee Vera Chiang.

Hampton 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.

“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.”

The series will shoot in the Far East this autumn and casting will be announced in the coming months.

Damien Timmer, who will be executive producer on the series, said: “For me, JG Farrell and Christopher Hampton is the absolute dream team – two of the finest writers this country has ever produced.

“Forty years after it was first written, bringing The Singapore Grip to the screen is a passion project for all of us. It’s an exceptionally well-crafted novel which has been adapted with unique flair and mischief by Christopher.

“It’s a privilege to be making this for ITV, and we hope this hugely ambitious and exotic saga will be a memorable treat for the audience.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph