What is a Singapore Grip as ITV drama airs?

ITV is heading back to World War II on Sunday night as the satirical drama The Singapore Grip makes its debut.

The series, based on the 1978 novel by JG Farrell, has a pretty stellar cast including David Morrissey, Elizabeth Tan, Luke Treadaway and Jane Horrocks, and tells the story of a wealthy family living in Singapore during the Second World War in the wake of the Japanese invasion.

And as well as its credentials it’s also bringing a pretty saucy title to the table – but just what is a Singapore Grip anyway?

Here’s what you need to know…

What is a Singapore Grip?

It seems that viewers won’t be the only people to be a bit baffled by the title of the series – as Treadaway’s character Matthew Webb also questions its meaning – with his curiosity becoming a bit of a running joke throughout the book and series, and one he doesn’t discover the answer to until closer to the end of the novel.

We are here to clear this matter up however – we can confirm that the Singapore Grip in fact refers to a pretty tricksy sex technique.

The Singapore Grip – also known as Pompoir or Kabzah – involves the woman using her vaginal muscles to stimulate the man’s penis during intercourse, while both remain stationary.

Well, you did ask.

The technique is said to have originated in India and later perfected in Thailand, and has its background in Tantra – the traditions of Hindu and Buddhist culture which date back to around the middle of the first millennium AD.

It is a pretty prominent feature of the ITV series also, when Matthew is surrounded by sex workers who offer him the chance to try The Singapore Grip.

He becomes more confused, initially thinking that it must be an illness of some sort – until his friend James Ehrendorf (Bart Edwards) – fills him in.

Despite its background author Farrell did toy with some alternative meanings of The Singapore Grip in his novel – notably using it to suggest the ‘grip’ that the British Empire and western economies had on the region at the time.

Even Matthew suggests this, saying: ‘It’s the grip of our Western culture and economy on the Far East.

‘It’s the stranglehold of capital on the traditional cultures of Malaya, China, Burma, Java, Indo-China and even India herself! It’s the doing of things our way – I mean, it’s the pursuit of self-interest rather than of the common interest!’

The Singapore Grip is on ITV on Sunday night at 9pm.

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