Eye For Film >> Movies >> Chance In A Million: Series One (1984) Film Review
These days Brenda Blethyn is a world-renowned Oscar-winning actress who is surely on the fast-track to that shiniest of all British accolades - National Treasure. Way back in 1984, she and Simon Callow were better known for their theatre work - until they took on the central roles in this sitcom, which became cult viewing in the early days of Channel 4.
In fact, it is held in such affection by so many that it comes as a surprise that it is only now making its way onto DVD. Callow plays the titular character Tom Chance - a man for whom coincidence is a way of life. "Happens to me all the time!" he declares to Alison Little (Blethyn) when they first meet - an encounter which, in the spirit which informs the entire series, is based on mistaken identity.
Chance is cheerful, outgoing and inately funny, with his ability to drink a pint at a single gulp mid-sentence and truncated speech pattern. Alison is equally well-drawn - a pensive librarian who, although being "bloody terrified" of just about everything sees herself as something of a racy tearaway ("It's not all helping children find the Milly Molly Mandy shelf," she tells Tom conspiratorially).
Watching the first series now - with its farcical set ups and surreal humour - it's fair to say that some aspects of it have dated a little. There is quite a lot of comedy that relies on women finding themselves unexpectedly scantily clad, for example, but it is played for surreal laughs rather than the bawdiness you might expect. Also, the supporting cast is patchy. On the plus side, it's a treat to watch the inimitable sitcom staple Deddie Davis as Alison's mum and there's a rather nice turn from Jeremy "son of Donald" Sinden, but many of the other bit part actors leave much to be desired.
It scarcely matters, though, because this is the Tom and Alison show, through and through. Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen (who would go on to create similarly surreal sitcom,The Brittas Empire) give their characters a real sense of warmth and Callow and Blethyn bring some lovely nuance to the script, showing great comic timing while also conveying that most difficult of emotional transitions - falling in love.
Funny and surprisingly touching, this is a trip down memory lane that is well worth taking.Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2010