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Chance In A Million series 1 DVD review


The unluckiest man in the world of British sitcom finally comes to DVD after a 25 year wait...

Chance In A Million DVD - out from Revelation Films on March 1st 2010

There's something wrong with a world where reruns of the likes of Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and Watching end up as unavoidable wallpaper on British TV, and a true Brit-com classic like Chance In A Million languishes away in Channel 4 vaults, relegated to the distant and fading memories of the Old Farts Club. If it was any good, they would have repeated it or released it on DVD by now, right?

Well, heaven knows what held it up these 25 odd years - actor releases, music releases, rights wrangles…? Perhaps it was the same brand of karmic calamity which had plagued the title character his whole life...

Simon Callow as Tom Chance, having his usual effect on human affairs

Tom Chance (Simon Callow) is a man stricken with a blimp-like and eternal magnetic field of calamity. Endlessly arrested for crimes he didn't commit, perpetually pursued by jealous husbands and angry consumers for affairs he had nothing to do with, the very street-lamps buckle around him. But Tom got used to his condition many years ago, and cuts a blithe and resigned path through life, drinking pints of beer in one gulp and talking to everyone he meets as if he were a telegram. Game chap. Cheerful really. Hates waste words. Bachelor…

Brenda Blethyn vamps it up as Alison in Chance In A Million, series 1 (1984)

…until yet another coincidence finds two complete strangers unconscious in a wrecked hotel lobby and Tom in the unexpected company of repressed librarian Alison Little (Brenda Blethyn), who determines in short order that this calamity-causing hurricane is the man for her - if only she can get his mind on connubial and carnal matters…

Chance Writers Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen upgraded the aging Brian Rix farce formula to something faintly but irrelevantly supernatural, and threw in a touch of Monty Python and Douglas Adams to create one of the best-loved and most amusing 'standard' sit-coms of the 1980s.

The casting is sublimely lucky - theatre stalwarts Callow and Blethyn, later to trade up TV and theatre for far more prominent places in the world of film, are a thoroughly delightful odd couple, and the 'will they, won't they' strand that was shortly to electrify Moonlighting is a pleasant thread to follow, as the bodies pile up around Tom's benighted path.

Chance In A Million ran for three series between 1984-86, none of which have been officially available on any kind of home video until now. There's a tangible change of tone halfway through series one, as the political correctness that cleaned up Benny Hill's ribaldry kicks in; no longer is Brenda Blethyn required to disrobe down to sexy undies, and the acres of stripping blondes are suddenly gone. This sea-change in what was acceptable on British TV killed many of the shows that were relying on it, but leaves Chance In A Million unphased.

One would have to check the various VHS recordings floating round the net to know what, if anything, has been excised from this release, or what music may have been changed due to rights issues. One slightly homophobic comment remains, but it's on its own and out of place. Chance In A Million is a celebration of the surreal; it won't disappoint those who remember it fondly, and might pleasantly surprise those who have been kept away from it all these years.

Sadly there is no commentary on the disc, but there's a rendered picture gallery and a time-stamped alternative version of the pilot episode, with few obvious differences to episode one.

4 out of 5 stars

Chance In A Million Series One is released in the UK on March 1st



#1 Guest 2010-02-25 22:44
What a great review. I too am looking forward to seeing Tom Chance again after all these years. You might be interested to know that Andrew Norriss, the creator of Chance, now writes children's books with a similar cleverness of plot and great humour. His next book, Aquila 2, the sequel to Aquila which won the Whitbread Award, will be out on July 1st.

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