When shown recently on British television, The Singapore Grip provoked much beating of the anti-racism drum, with pressure groups griping that it was “rose-tinted” history and “a kick in the teeth” for the Asian characters shamelessly exploited by domineering imperialists. Which rather misses the point. Based on the novel by Booker Prize-winning author J.G. Farrell, this adaptation of The Singapore Grip may feature only a single Asian character with any depth. But that’s all it takes to expose the ex-public school duffers in tin hats who regard war as merely “a spot of action” and for whom “the honour of the British Empire” is of paramount importance – and to hell with the natives on whose backs they’ve built their mansions. Their garden fêtes, hired jazz bands and cocktails on the veranda serve to bury the Brits, not to praise them. BBC First's The Singapore Grip trailer from Foxtel Media on Vimeo . The six-part series (showing now on BBC First Asia, via TVB) begins in 1941 as the spectre of Japanese invasion creeps up on a contemptuous expatriate community, its haughtiness typified by a scheming David Morrissey as an avaricious, bombastic businessman. Compassionate new arrival Matthew Webb (Luke Treadaway) is disgusted by the colonial superiority complex (and later by an appalling absence of military leadership) and it’s his relationship with semi-perpetual refugee Vera Chiang (an indefatigable Elizabeth Tan) that throws the expats’ insufferable demeanour into sharpest relief. Filmed in Penang and Kuala Lumpur to evoke the Lion City of old, the tale vilifies those who partied while Asia burned. Dismissing a marauding army thus: “The trouble with the Japanese is they eat too much fish,” was never going to be a winning strategy. HBO’s Industry asks whether banker archetypes are born or made In the public-consciousness popularity stakes, the 2008 global financial crisis – fairly or otherwise – booted bankers to somewhere beneath today’s crowded-train, coughing-fit victim. The callow, class-of-2020 graduates beginning their careers in fictional investment bank Pierpoint & Co, the central setting for eight-part series Industry , must have cut their cloth from a template of those grim days, so self-serving are they in their obsessive quest for permanent positions at the trough of power and wealth. From 11am on Tuesday on HBO and HBO Go (re-runs at 11pm on HBO, new episodes weekly), we join the ambitious young guns (carefully cast to cover as many racial and gender bases as possible) as they sink, swim and sometimes both in the shark pool of the high-finance trading floor. This column has it on impeccable authority that the vicious backbiting, rung-climbing, smear-campaigning bitchiness in their ethically challenged world is entirely accurate. Race, sex, class and privilege, meanwhile, are shown to be just as important as merit and ability in the drive to make big money. But that’s only half the story, because when the hard work’s done for the day it’s time for London’s emerging moneymongers, led by Myha’la Herrold as Harper and Harry Lawtey as Robert, to play just as enthusiastically. Drugs and alcohol are playtime perks, sex is always on the table – sometimes literally – and schemes against and within the ossified company hierarchy bring to mind the murderous machinations of the court intrigues of the Middle Ages. What humanity there is comes from the unlikely direction of sales desk managing director Eric Tao (Ken Leung), whose carrot-and-stick approach to schooling the graduates is graphically depicted by his wielding the baseball bat he keeps at his desk. Industry asks whether the bankers we know and love from all those news stories are born or made; and whether the financial world seeks always to recruit its own sort to perpetuate its influence. This glimpse of its arcane ways and institutional arrogance provides the answers.