David Morrissey, Jane Horrocks and Charles Dance will star in an adaptation of JG Farrell’s novel The Singapore Grip for ITV.
They will be joined by Coronation Street star Elizabeth Tan, Ordeal By Innocence Actor Luke Treadaway and Star Trek: The Next Generation veteran Colm Meaney in the series, penned by Dangerous Liaisons writer Christopher Hampton.
Filming in south-east Asia has already started on the series, which is set during the Second World War and focuses on a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion.
Treadaway will play the reluctant hero Matthew Webb while Morrissey plays ruthless rubber merchant Walter Blackett, the head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm alongside his business partner and Matthew’s father, played by Dance.
With his partner’s health failing, Walter needs to ensure the future of their firm is secure so decides Matthew is the perfect match for his spoilt daughter Joan, played by Georgia Blizzard, but Matthew falls under the spell of Vera Chiang, played by Tan, a mysterious Chinese refugee.
Absolutely Fabulous star Horrocks will play Sylvia Blackett, Walter’s wife, while Meaney plays Major Brendan Archer.
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 be executive produced by Mammoth Screen’s Damien Timmer, who is responsible for recent dramas including Poldark and The Witness For The Prosecution, who 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 entertaining and exotic saga will be a memorable treat for the audience.”