ITV has commissioned the adaptation for TV of J G Farrell’s 1978 novel The Singapore Grip. This is promised by online entertainment news magazine Deadline Hollywood to be of interest to Waugh fans. The adaptation will be by Christopher Hampton and the production by Mammoth Screen. Both have been involved in similar successful ventures: for example, Hampton in Ian McEwen’s Atonement and Mammoth in Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End.
Echoes of Waugh are mentioned by Christopher Hampton in the ITV’s Press Release. These are faintly audible to me. I recall reading the book when it was published and even rereading it a few years later. It was the last in Farrell’s Empire Trilogy which also included Troubles and The Siege of Krishnapur, and I am a sucker for series novels. What stands out about The Singapore Grip was that it was very funny. It deals with the British expats living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion and is reminiscent of Waugh’s descriptions of that milieu in some of his novels (eg, Black Mischief and Officers and Gentlemen) as well as those of William Boyd and Anthony Burgess. I can’t say that I enjoyed the other two books in the trilogy; Krishnapur lacked the satire and comedy of The Singapore Grip and as a result I never tried Troubles. Perhaps this was a mistake because Wikipedia describes Troubles as a “comic yet melancholy tale”, and Charles Sturridge (director of the Granada Brideshead TV series) adapted it for television in 1988. All three books are currently in print from New York Review Books and Acorn TV has released a DVD of Troubles.
Singapore was Farrell’s last book, as he died by accidental drowning shortly after its publication at the age of 44. Salman Rushdie is quoted as saying that “Had he not sadly died so young, there is no question that he would today be one of the really major novelists of the English language. The three novels that he did leave are all in their different way extraordinary.” He is probably referring to the trilogy, although Farrelll had also written several other novels before that. The ITV adaptation is scheduled for production later this year. Whether a North American network has joined in the production isn’t mentioned in the Deadline article.
UPDATE (12 February 2018): The source of the Waugh connection is revealed in the ITV Press Release, and this along with a few other modifications were made in the text.