Outside Chance (ITV, 1993)/Time After Time (ITV, 1994-1995)
It’s time for another entry in the “were there any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” series, and here’s why I chose to review this one. When I was younger, I remember watching Brian Conley’s comedy sketch show on TV. I know some people found his routine rather cheesy, but I did enjoy it. By the mid-90s he was popular enough to be given the leading role in a sitcom pilot.
This was called Outside Chance, and it did well enough to return for a full series about a year later, as the re-titled Time After Time (an LWT production for ITV), written by Paul Minett and Brian Leveson. Conley (who also sang the theme song) played Kenny Conway, a cheeky tea-leaf who has just been released from prison, you could say that in the past he was “a little bit waayyy” as the phrase goes, but he is now insistent that he is a reformed character and determined to keep out of trouble, although his family aren’t convinced.
Kenny’s family include his mother and his younger brother Robbie (who was still at school and must’ve been about 15 years younger than him). Also featuring is Kenny’s mate, the dodgy car mechanic Jake (not to be confused with Brian’s other mate called Jake who co-hosted the “Conley’s Car Boot Quiz” feature on his comedy sketch show around the same time as this who just happened to be a robot from the year 3003).
There is also Kenny’s girlfriend Donna who works at a building society and has remained loyal to him during his time in prison, and they plan to get married, what a girl, what a diamond. Hoping to help Kenny along the way is his probation officer Gillian (Samantha “Richard’s daughter” Beckinsale), but things start to get a little complicated, and he becomes entangled in a love triangle. Kenny also briefly gets a job as a car salesman, but he definitely didn’t compare to Swiss Toni.
Time After Time ran for two series on ITV on Friday nights (ITV used to show sitcoms on Friday nights? ITV used to show sitcoms??), but it has not been released on DVD, and it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. I do remember that it was repeated on digital channel Granada Plus though. The first series also won an award for being the best ITV sitcom of 1994.
Time After Time is a sitcom that has been somewhat forgotten now, although all the episodes are on YouTube and it was good to watch them. In more recent years Conley (who first appeared on TV in the early-80s) has gone on to have further success away from sitcoms, mostly appearing on stage in the theatre, and he has also hosted a few game shows on various channels.