Chance in a Million (1984-1986)

I stumbled upon this British comedy show recently; I had never even heard of it before.


Tom Chance is a man with a curious affliction. Everything that seems practically impossible keeps happening to him – good or bad. But these (for him very probable) improbabilities also very often keep causing havoc in the lives of the people around him. That makes Tom a rather lonely man – until he meets Alison. Alison is quite smitten by Tom and she is determined to make their relationship work, against all odds. The series (3 seasons with 6 episodes each) chronicles the mishaps of Tom and Alison, and the many wrecked lives they leave in their wake.


Tom Chance feels, talks, and looks like a character from a P. G. Wodehouse novel. And that works in the show’s favour: as Tom is such an outlandish, foppish character out of time and place, the show does not feel as dated as if Tom would have been a “realistic” 1984 man.

The two protagonists are portrayed by Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn. And their performances are what carries this show through to the 21st century. Many of the jokes may not be of the highest quality, but Callow and Blethyn have such chemistry, and such a unique sense of timing and delivery, that nearly every joke in this show becomes an absolute joy to watch in its unfolding and execution. On top of that, a lot of the humour has a formulaic aspect to it, an aspect that the writers deliberately chose and knowingly played with. So the writing and acting go hand in hand.


Like most British shows, Chance in a Million features a number of “that-guy” character actors and there are guest appearances by people like Graham Crowden (Waiting for God), Gerald Sim, Edwin Richfield, and a young Stephen Fry. Especially enjoyable are Deddie Davies and Hugh Walters as Alison’s parents.


Since this show has such a unique type of humour, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So this is another case where I would suggest you check out clips of the show on the internet before buying the DVD.



There are DVD-sets available in both Region 1 and Region 2. There are complete box-sets (containing all 18 episodes) that also have a number of extras [I am not sure if the extras are also available on the single season DVDs]. Be advised that my copy of the Region 2 complete box set has a bug on the third disc, which means that on my DVD-player I can neither watch the final episode nor access the bonus content. All works fine, however, when I put the same disc into my PC.

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