Adapting J G Farrell’s prize-winning novel, The Singapore Grip, was a no-brainer for Sir Christopher Hampton.

The screenwriter and playwright, who won an Oscar for 1988 film, Dangerous Liaisons, loved the book, which is set during the Second World War and focuses on a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion, when he first read it.

“It deals with something very close to me, which is colonialism, in the sense that I was brought up in those sorts of places as a child, so it felt very familiar to me, the world of it.

“And also, I got to know J G Farrell in the 70s in Notting Hill, where we both lived. So, for all those reasons, when they approached me I said right away, ‘I’ll do it’.”

The highly anticipated ITV series has an impressive cast, including Luke Treadaway, David Morrissey, Jane Horrocks, Colm Meaney, and Charles Dance.

Liverpudlian Morrissey, who is known for The Missing, Britannia, The Walking Dead, takes on the role of ruthless rubber merchant Walter Blackett, who is head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm alongside his business partner Webb (played by Game Of Thrones star, Charles Dance).

“I thought he was an amazing character in the sense that what he would do in the pursuit of his own power was monstrous, really,” 56-year-old Morrissey notes of Walter.

“And I found his relationship with his daughter really interesting, his family dynamic was really interesting.

“I just found his entitlement fascinating and his racism, his surety of self, and what he was doing.

“The world that he inhabited was one you could look at and think, ‘Wow, that’s terrible’, but when you relate it to right here, right now, not a lot has changed.”

With Webb’s health failing, Walter needs to ensure the future of their firm is secure.

He decides Webb’s son Matthew (played by Treadaway) is the perfect match for his spoilt daughter Joan (Georgia Blizzard).

Matthew’s idealism leaves Walter increasingly suspicious as Matthew himself falls under the spell of Vera Chiang (Elizabeth Tan), a mysterious Chinese refugee.

Exeter-born Treadaway, 35, known for his Olivier Award-winning role in the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time in 2013, discusses how Matthew and Walter are ideologically at different ends of the spectrum.

“Whilst Walter tries to maintain the status quo and keep things going even though bombs are falling, Matthew is less sort of shackled to how things have been done in the past.

“I think, definitely for that time, he would have been seen as quite progressive, with his views on workers’ rights, and trying to benefit the native workers and the people of the country as opposed to just the British shareholders."

As Morrissey explains, Walter “sees everybody else, apart from his family, as someone to gain power over”.

“He’s somebody who’s very much in the heart of British commerce abroad.

"He sees himself as a beneficiary to the local population... He has great self-confidence about what he’s bringing [to the local people]. But he’s a victim of his own greed.”

He continues thoughtfully: “Also, he’s a victim of his own world view as the British sort of are, right at that point.

“They are totally at a place where their arrogance is so blinded that they don’t see anything else.

“Their world is about to start to disintegrate.”

The Singapore Grip is a satirical novel, and Sir Christopher liked its “wit”, “un-sentimentality” and also its “hardness”; how Farrell did not mince matters.

Does the series speak at all to the time we are living in now?

“I think it does, really, because you have a sort of remote, complacent, self-satisfying, incompetent government,” says the writer candidly.

“You have an unjustified sense of superiority over other nations. You have kind of endemic casual racism.

“All of those things are still very much with us.”

Sir Christopher has had a long and impressive career, although he admits winning an Oscar can be a bit of a curse.

“And after I won it, it took me six years to get another film made, and then I was forced to direct it myself,” he recalls.

“What happened after the Dangerous Liaisons Oscar, was one’s salary goes shooting up, but you also find yourself in the world of the studios, where on the whole, they’d rather not make a film than make it.

“So, you find yourself embarking on huge jobs, which never see the light of day.

“Some of them you feel are your best work. But you have to learn to roll with that.”

Asked how the TV industry has changed, what with so many streaming services and different platforms now, the writer takes a moment to reflect.

“When I started out in the 70s, I did quite a lot of television for the BBC.

“It was really good to be a young writer at that point because unlike now, weirdly enough, they were desperate for content.

“Now, they are all kinds of layers and gatekeepers and administrative people and bureaucrats and everyone putting in their two cents, and so a project will be much, much slower.

“Of course, when you get out the other end, with something like the Singapore grip, the resources were amazing and they were able to make it have a tremendously epic feel.

“But it is a paradox, that as there are more and more gateways, there are also more and more guards in front of them that you have to get past.

“The effect of that, I think, is possibly a sort of homogenisation of television; in other words, people have formulas in their mind and everything has to be formed of those formulas and therefore the danger is, you’re just watching the same show over and over again.

“It’s always difficult to slide past with something original.”

Well, he has certainly achieved it with The Singapore Grip.

The Singapore Grip starts on ITV on Sunday, September 13.