Chance in a Million

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Chance in a Million
PAR61463 3D ChanceInAMillionTheCompleteSeries.jpg
UK DVD Sleeve Chance in a Million
StarringSimon Callow
Brenda Blethyn
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes18
ProducerMichael Mills
Running time30 minutes
Original networkChannel 4
Original release10 September 1984 (1984-09-10) –
1 December 1986 (1986-12-01)

Chance in a Million is a British sitcom broadcast between 1984 and 1986, produced by Thames Television for Channel 4.

The series was co-written by Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen and starred Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn.

The producer and director of the series was Michael Mills.


The premise of the show is that the main character, Tom Chance, is frequently the victim of unlikely circumstances, although he cares little about this and is, in fact, largely oblivious to much of what happens around him.

He meets his long-suffering girlfriend, Alison Little, by chance. This happens when Tom Chance goes to the same hotel on a blind date to meet a girl (who is also called Alison), that Alison Little has arranged to meet her cousin Tom (for the first time since they were young children).

Tom is shy towards Alison. However, Alison has fallen in love with Tom at first sight and she is keen for their friendship to develop into something more intimate.

Tom has a tendency to get into trouble as a result of unlikely coincidences. This leads to Tom being arrested for crimes he did not commit – which happens so often that police Sergeant Gough eventually gives orders for Tom not to be arrested, no matter how suspicious the circumstances. Tom accepts the unintentional incidents which continuously occur in his life with great stoicism.

Tom has an amusing ability to drink an entire pint of beer in one gulp whilst in the middle of speaking a sentence. (According to Callow in a DVD commentary, a trick glass containing a fraction of a pint was actually used.)

Tom's style of speaking is a key component of his comic nature. He speaks only in short staccato sentences similar to a telegram: "Can’t talk Alison. Car being towed. Problem with lawn furniture."

He also has a fascination with Surrey and England cricketer Alec Bedser, and a cricket bat, which has been autographed by the cricketer, is one of Tom's most treasured possessions. (Or at least was, before it was chewed up by next door's alsatian.) And in the penultimate episode, Alison presents her husband-to-be with a book containing a signed dedication by Bedser, to Tom's great delight.



There were three series, each of six episodes, as follows:

Series 1 (10 September 1984 – 15 October 1984)

  1. "Plumstones" (10 September 1984) – Various unfortunate coincidences bring about Tom Chance's arrest. A timecoded pilot version also exists and is included on the DVD as an extra. This version has a differently-scripted and acted second half, although the ending is similar.
  2. "Honour Thy Father And Thy Mother" (17 September 1984) – Tom is mistaken for a crooked car dealer.
  3. "Flowing with the Tide" (24 September 1984) – The bank fails to pay Tom's bills.
  4. "The Birthday Party" (1 October 1984) – Tom's party for Alison is a disaster.
  5. "Man of Iron" (8 October 1984) – Tom's bad luck affects Alison's visiting cousin.
  6. "Stuff of Dreams" (15 October 1984) – Reporters expect to find a crime boss at Tom's.

Series 2 (6 January 1986 – 10 February 1986)

  1. "The Taxman Cometh" (6 January 1986) – Tom is sent a tax demand by an inspector who believes Tom has debauched his daughter.
  2. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" (13 January 1986) – Tom is sent by strangers to cancel a wedding.
  3. "The Lost Weekend" (20 January 1986) – Tom tangles with drug traffickers on the way to visit Alison's parents.
  4. "And What Shall We Do for a Ring?" (27 January 1986) – Tom and Alison are mistaken for jewellery thieves.
  5. "Winning Streak" (3 February 1986) – Tom suddenly begins to win things.
  6. "Naming The Day" (10 February 1986) – Tom visits the paper to correct the reports of his engagement... and death.

Series 3 (27 October 1986 – 1 December 1986)

  1. "Goodbye Mr Henstridge" (27 October 1986) – Tom and Alison go to Mr Henstridge's funeral.
  2. "Guess Who's Not Coming For Dinner" (3 November 1986) – Tom and Alison visit Tom's long-suffering family.
  3. "The Blessing" (10 November 1986) – A flight-simulator, some animal rightists and a snake create problems.
  4. "The Once And Future Chance" (17 November 1986) – Alison is thinking about having children, but they end up with more than they bargained for.
  5. "Pre-Matrimonial Tensions" (24 November 1986) – Wedding plans are disrupted by the activities of a photographer.
  6. "The Wedding" (1 December 1986) – The wedding day finally arrives, but can the guests escape from the sewer ?

DVD releases[edit]

DVD Release date
The Complete Series 1 1 March 2010
The Complete Series 2 5 July 2010
The Complete Series 3 4 October 2010
The Complete Series 1 to 3 Box Set 4 October 2010


Speaking about the series following its release on DVD Simon Callow said: "I loved doing it and it's one of the most popular things I ever did. The central character, Tom Chance, was a guy who was plagued by coincidence that was the basic formula of the series. The charming thing about him was that he seemed to belong to another world completely. He spoke in the most extraordinary way, which I think was derived from Mr. Jingle in The Pickwick Papers – he never used the personal pronouns ... He'd say, "... went to bank ... had problem ... sat down ... couldn't get out ... killed a woman ... very sad...". Brenda Blethyn, she's absolutely superb in it. Brenda and I and the writers are desperately keen to do a series, 25 years later on ... same couple ... I think it would be wonderful."[1]

Brenda Blethyn, in her 2006 autobiography Mixed Fancies, speaks of the series at length with clear affection and happy memories of the project.


  1. ^ Simon Callow speaking on The Danny Baker Show, Radio 5 Live, 22 May 2010.
  • The Penguin TV Companion (2nd Edition) – Jeff Evans, Penguin Books Ltd., London, 2003

External links[edit]