‘The Singapore Grip’ is an upcoming British period drama set in Singapore during the Japanese occupation

Surrendering troops of the Suffolk Regiment are held at gunpoint by Japanese infantry in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Surrendering troops of the Suffolk Regiment are held at gunpoint by Japanese infantry in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

British television channel ITV is currently in the midst of launching a new period drama set during World War II in the sunny island of Singapore.

Apt, considering that Singapore’s celebrating reflecting on the 200th anniversary since Sir Stamford Raffles arrived on our shores and colonized the island.

The Singapore Grip

The drama will be a TV adaptation of The Singapore Grip, a novel published in 1978 by British writer J.G. Farell, who’s known for his “Empire Trilogy” series of books dealing with the political and human consequences of British colonial rule. The book itself is set in 1939 and is described as a satirical tragicomic tale about a powerful British family trying to maintain control of Singapore in the midst of the Japanese occupation. The title itself is taken from a term used for a sexual technique, which you can find out for yourself via Urban Dictionary.

“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,” said Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton, who’s adapting the novel.

Variety reported that the series will follow rubber merchant Walter Blackett, his wife, Sylvia, ruthless daughter Joan and spoiled son Monty as they live a life of luxury. Things begin to unravel when Blackett’s business partner’s health deteriorates, leading Blackett to arrange the marriage of his daughter with his partner’s son, Matthew Webb, in order to ensure the future of their firm.

Said to be a six-part series, the adaptation already has big names in its cast. The likes of Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), Luke Treadaway (A Street Cat Named Bob) and Elizabeth Tan (Coronation Street) have been named to star, among others. According to reports, filming is already underway in Southeast Asia, but it’s unknown where exactly they’re shooting (most likely Malaysia, considering Crazy Rich Asians did the same thing).

Hopefully, the show will be more humorous than dreary — The Straits Times’ Akshita Nanda describes the book as a “savage comedy” that manages to weave in “snappy, comic summaries” of Singapore, including details about the British elite’s arrogance towards the country’s native population and people of American descent.

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