ITV is adapting J.G. Farrell’s World War II novel The Singapore Grip with a script from Oscar winner Christopher Hampton. The British broadcaster has ordered a six-part series produced by Poldark and Victoria producer Mammoth Screen.
The Singapore Grip, which was part of Farrell’s Empire Trilogy of novels, which also includes Troubles and The Siege of Krishnapur was originally published in 1978. It tells the story of a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion.
It follows 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. However, the story takes a turn when the son of his business partner Mr Webb becomes involved with his daughter Joan before falling under the spell of Vera Chiang, a mysterious Chinese refugee.
It is being adapted by Hampton, who wrote feature films including A Dangerous Method, Atonement, The Quiet American and who won an Oscar for Dangerous Liaisons. It will shoot later this year in the Far East and will be exec produced by Mammoth Screen’s Creative Director Rebecca Keane and boss Damien Timmer, who has exec produced Poldark, The Witness For The Prosecution, NW, Parade’s End, Victoria, Endeavour and the forthcoming Vanity Fair.
It was commissioned by ITV’s Head of Drama Polly Hill, who said: “The Singapore Grip is a portrait of a society in decline as they cling to a world that is slowly crumbling. I’m delighted to be working with Christopher Hampton and for ITV to be the home for his brilliant adaptation of J.G Farrell’s epic novel.”
Hampton added “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. 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.”
“For me, J.G. 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,” added Timmer.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute internationally.