Saturday, 17 October 2009

Chance in a Million

Sometimes it seems that the entire history of television can now be bought on DVD, from the great epic dramas to the really silly kids' programmes you used to watch eons ago when the world existed in black and white. But every now and then one particular televisual memory stays just that – a memory. For some unexplained reason and despite the numerous releases of really crap shows, there is always one that stubbornly refuses to emerge.

One of my all time favourite sit-coms was called ‘Chance in a Million’ and starred two actors at the start of their television careers, Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn. It ran on Channel 4 for three seasons of 6 episodes each between 1984 and 1986 and as far as I know was never repeated nor has it emerged on DVD. Generally there are reasons why DVDs are not released – problems with licensing soundtrack music (‘Moonlighting’ take a bow) or royalty difficulties with acting unions etc – but I suspect in this case it is probably to do with one or other of the stars. Both Callow and Blethyn have moved on to much greater things and I guess that they may not wish to be reminded of their humble sit-com beginnings.

But that is a shame, for ‘Chance in a Million’ was a wonderfully off-the-wall comedy, brilliantly acted by the two protagonists and they should be proud of it. Callow plays Tom Chance, an eccentric bachelor, given to speaking in unfinished clauses rather than sentences who is dogged by coincidence. If anything is highly unlikely to happen then it is certain to happen to him and he is frequently the victim of improbable circumstances. The local police have given up arresting him for crimes he appears to have committed and he fears for any woman he becomes involved with in case his ‘affliction’ rubs off on her – until a chance meeting with Alison Little, played by Blethyn, an on-the-shelf librarian who falls for him.

She is keen for their friendship to develop into something more intimate and part of the comedy involves his being largely oblivious of her seduction attempts. Eventually, however, they do marry in the final episode despite the inevitable catalogue of disasters which threaten to curtail the event. Brenda Blethyn has never been better than in her portrayal of the slightly naïve yet love-torn Alison. Her stoic acceptance of the chaos that surrounds them and matter-of-fact delivery of some of the funniest lines in the script really is worth seeing.

The scripts were written by Andrew Norriss (who later wrote the Brittas Empire) and Richard Fegen and in retrospect lay the foundations for the quirky humour used later by David Renwick in ‘One Foot in the Grave’.

However, it seems there is a God, because several episodes have appeared on YouTube and I have just spent a delightful few hours watching them for the first time in nearly 25 years. And yes, they are still utterly bonkers and I love ‘em.

A brief glimpse - Tom has accidentally picked up the loot from a bank robbery. Now read on...


Anonymous said...

Revelation Films are releasing Chance in a Million Series One on DVD on March 1st 2010, available from all good retailers.

musicobsessive said...

Is this really true?? If so, then all I can say is...Brilliant!

Thanks for the info - it has made my day!