The Sunday 9pm slot is typically reserved for cosy drama: Downton Abbey, Poldark and Call the Midwife all enjoyed this weekend primetime popularity. However, ITV’s new Sunday drama had them in hot water before it even aired.
Set in Singapore during the Japanese invasion, The Singapore Grip is an adaptation of the satirical JG Farrell 1978 novel about the rich colonial English families that lived there during the dramatic period in history. So, where’s the controversy? Well, for a show set in Singapore, there is a noticeable lack of Singaporean characters. Something Beats, the organisation for British East & South East Asians in theatre and broadcasting, called “a kick in the teeth,” taking “Singapore’s history as little more than breezy and inconsequential.” So, we’ve established it’s accused of not passing the diversity test, but is there anything positive to say? Well, the costumes are alright, and its drenched in pretty, glossy hues.
Separate to the controversy, The Times’ Carol Midgley called The Singapore Grip “an odd fish all round,” summing up by saying: “aesthetically it is a treat, but plot-wise not, er, gripping.” And it does seem the whole show was just a bit…lacking. Rebecca Nicholson in The Guardian comments “that the story is supposed to be satire makes it all the more strange that it lacks any bite.” It seems that there isn’t even a nibble to this show, as Anita Singh in The Telegraph agrees “the TV version lacks Farrell’s bite,” and “ends up looking like any other jolly ITV drama.”
Gripping? We think not.
First shown September 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.