In the decade following the end of The Sullivans and The Young Doctors, the Nine Network had little success in establishing a successful serial drama. The TV graveyard of the 1980s and early ’90s is littered with Nine’s drama corpses — Starting Out, Kings, Possession, Prime Time, Taurus Rising, All The Way, Family And Friends.
Nine’s next gamble in the genre was Chances — an adults-only drama with salaciousness not seen on Australian TV since the days of Number 96 and The Box. The series presented an opportunity for production company Beyond International (Beyond 2000) to diversify its portfolio to include drama.
Chances was based around a suburban family, the Taylors, whose lives are changed forever following a $3 million lottery win at the end of the first episode, airing on 29 January 1991. The original cast included John Sheerin, Brenda Addie, Jeremy Sims, Natalie McCurry (pictured), Cathy Godbold, Tim Robertson, Ann Grigg, Deborah Kennedy, Rhys Muldoon, Dennis Miller, Mercia Deane-Johns, Mark Kounnas, Michael Caton, Leverne McDonnell, Yvonne Lawley and Simon Grey.
YouTube: Robert Pugsley
Playing out at two one-hour episodes a week at 8.30pm, what followed was a procession of stories surrounding the Taylor family and their various connections as the windfall is being splurged, interspersed with affairs and glimpses of boobs and bums. The frequent appearance of the buttocks of scheming advertising executive Alex Taylor (Sims) became regular comic fodder on sketch comedy Fast Forward.
Although Chances‘ ratings started off strong, audience interest soon faded. The casual nudity was not enough to keep people tuned in. A murder mystery was introduced to bump off one of the main characters, but it was not enough to keep viewers interested.
Nine soon chopped the show’s budget, trimming it from two episodes a week to one and a shift to a later timeslot. This led to a lot of the regular cast being written out, with an increased focus on the adventures of Alex Taylor (Sims pictured with guest star Annie Jones). This seemed to give the producers licence to largely dispense of the serious drama and ramp up their imaginations, creating bizarre storylines almost to a level of parody. Vampires, secret agents, underworld figures, ‘hands on’ sex therapists, amorous pool boys and Egyptian goddesses all became par for the course.
But the fun was over after two years, with Nine axing the show towards the end of 1992 and the remaining episodes played out at 11.00pm.
A selection of episodes from Chances‘ more bizarre era was released on DVD.
Source: Super Aussie Soaps, Andrew Mercado. TV Week, 19 January 1991. Broadcasting In Australia, Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, 1991.