Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Main Chance, The (1969-75)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Main Chance, The (1969-75)
Yorkshire Television for ITV, tx. 18/5/1969-18/7/1975
6 x 51 min black & white, 39 x 51 min colour episodes in 4 series
ProducerJohn Frankau
Directors includeJohn Frankau
 Christopher Hodon
Writers includeEdmund Ward
 John Batt
 Ray Jenkins

Cast: John Stride (David Main); John Wentworth (Henry Castleton); Margaret Ashcroft (Margaret Castleton); Anna Palk (Sarah Courtenay); John Arnatt (Sidney Bulmer); Kate O'Mara (Julia Main); Estelle Kohler (Hilary Nash/Main)

Show full cast and credits

After many years working in London, ambitious solicitor David Main returns to his native Leeds to set up a new practice and to improve his station by working for the rich and powerful. Nevertheless he is frequently drawn to helping the underdog, sometimes against his own best interests.

Show full synopsis

Yorkshire Television's hugely successful legal drama, The Main Chance, was so fast-paced that even the opening credits were played over images of a speeding train, depicting protagonist David Main commuting between his twin bases in London and Leeds. John Stride brings great passion and authority as the protagonist, a man with a pithy verbal rejoinder for every occasion ("If I wanted to be loved I'd have been a teddy bear"), and who is out for his big break. His seemingly devil-may-care attitude is contrasted each week with the steady and cautious approach of his crusty Leeds partner Henry Castleton. Main's relentless pursuit of material and career success is, however, tempered by his desire to champion the underdog, for whom he feels an occasionally grudging kinship.

As Main's fortunes peak and trough, the most visible casualty of his ambitions is his personal life. By the beginning of the second series, he has divorced his wife (Kate O'Mara), to whom he initially gives full custody of their children when she remarries. Over the years, he also has long drawn-out relationships with his sexy, highly efficient and long-suffering secretaries: first Sarah Courtenay, who eventually marries to become Lady Radchester, and later the more exotic Sharon Maughan, who finally returns to Norway after realising that Main can only really love the Law. His eventual remarriage ends tragically, with his wife's death at the hands of a drunk driver. Main's unorthodox attempts to bring to trial those responsible lead eventually to his being struck off the solicitor's register ('Rule of Law', tx. 2/5/1975).

Initially made in black and white, as the series' popularity grew and it transferred to colour some episodes even included overseas filming, while the ever-resourceful Main developed a penchant for technical gadgets. At the conclusion of the final episode ('Coroner's Verdict', tx. 18/7/1975), however, Main is back in the provinces at the bottom rung of the legal ladder, alone and facing an uncertain future.

In a curious anomaly, principal scriptwriter Edmund Ward was initially credited as having 'devised and created' the series with 'John Malcolm', who was also credited with the theme music and served as legal adviser. For the final two series, however, John Batt dropped his 'Malcolm' pseudonym and was credited under his own name.

Sergio Angelini

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Shrewd and energetic (4:09)
2. Gatekeeper turned poacher (4:39)
3. Guilty as charged (3:04)
Complete episode - Part 1 (19:27)
Part 2 (12:03)
Part 3 (20:29)
Justice (1971-74)
Legal Drama