1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 6 (UK)
18 x 30 minute episodes
Young fogey. Lumbering sort of fellow. Seemed sane. Not quite. Tight spots. Police. Wrong place, wrong car. Get picture? Trouble was talked like telegram. Simon Callow played him so well, hair stood on end.
For as long as he can remember, Tom Chance (Callow) has had a life which lived up to his surname – From the coincidence that led to his meeting his true love to his run-ins with the law for crimes he didn’t commit (run-ins that eventually have the police sergeant ordering his men not to arrest Tom, no matter what the circumstances!).
This brilliant British comedy worked along similar lines to The Brittas Empire, except that Gordon Brittas is an irritating git who causes chaos, and Tom Chance is a very likeable bloke to whom bizarre things just always seem to happen.
Incidents which are a-million-to-one-chance for most people happen to Tom Chance as a matter of course.
His shy librarian girlfriend Alison Little (Brenda Blethyn) becomes enmeshed in Tom’s bizarre world when a series of strange “coincidences” lead to the pair being arrested for housebreaking while dressed only in underwear.
Nothing is ever Tom’s fault, of course, just the inevitable chain of coincidence that seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Throughout the series, Tom attempts to conquer the fickle finger of fate that hovers over him, and Alison learns that life with Tom Chance never turns out to be quite what she expected.
Chance In A Million was a sitcom that set out to send up the sitcom genre. Writers Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen’s intention was to take to their most ludicrous extremes the plethora of unlikely coincidences that litter comedy scripts.
The ‘hero’ here – with his strange staccato way of talking and odd vocabulary; beginning each sentence with a verb and omitting all definite articles – suffered ridiculous flukes, such as when a paratrooper descended right into his house on a quest for bizarre objects and Tom discovered – to his own surprise – that he had them, including a nude photograph of Shirley Williams and a cricket bat signed by Alec Bedser.
Or when – just as Alison’s parents were about to visit for the first time – his bedroom was invaded by young women undressing in rehearsal for their attempt on the greatest-number-of-girls-in-their-underwear-in-one-telephone-box world record.
Tom and Alison eventually become engaged and, in the final episode, are married – albeit in Tom’s usual disastrous circumstances: the wedding day begins with the bride and groom in jail, no best man, bridesmaids or guests, and the in-laws and the cake trapped in a sewer.
Brenda Blethyn went on to appear in another Fegen and Norriss sitcom, The Labours Of Erica, but the writers’ best-known creation to date is The Brittas Empire.