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Prospects is a British television comedy-drama series that was written by Alan Janes and originally shown on Channel 4 in 1986. Created by Euston Films who had a pedigree of producing successful, gritty drama such as The Sweeney and Minder, it followed the exploits of two East End 'geezer' characters - Jimmy 'Pincy' Pince played by Gary Olsen and Billy 'Bill' Pearson played by Brian Bovell and their trials and tribulations of making a living in London's Isle of Dogs.
Comprising 12 episodes Prospects - with a comic slant, dealt with many of the major issues affecting British society at the height of the "Thatcherite" '80's including unemployment, crime, poverty, regeneration, social change and racism.
The shows featured many actors, some known like Ken Jones who played 'Horrible Ives' in Porridge and some unknown who went on to find fame elsewhere. These include: Billy Hartman 'Terry Woods' in Emmerdale.
Prospects gained a cult following and ratings wise it performed well above expectation for Channel 4. At that time Channel 4 received a large subsidy from the rival commercial network ITV in exchange for the right to sell airtime; this gave ITV a significant input into the management of the station. The success of Prospects and the fact that it was produced by a subsidiary of the ITV network's largest station Thames Television meant it was moved to a 9pm prime-time repeat slot on ITV in the Spring/Summer of 1987. This fuelled rumours that the network wanted to develop Prospects into a long-running comedy drama series. However, ITV declined the opportunity to develop it beyond the original first series.
The 12 episodes of Prospects followed Billy and Pincy's exploits as follows:
- Episode 1 The P to S Day - Billy and Pincy set up a dating agency and burglar alarm company but as ever seem to spend their time getting out of scrapes.
- Episode 2 Partners in Brine - Pincy has big dreams of setting up a marina and theme park in the Isle of Dogs - not bad when your only collateral is your weekly 'dole' cheque.
- Episode 3 Uncle Harry's System - Pincy despite Billy's cynicism believes he's discovered a guaranteed greyhound betting system. However they end up in very hot water both with 'Uncle Harry's' system and losing £500 they were minding for local villain 'Stretch'.
- Episode 4 Dirty Weekend - Billy, Pincy and their girlfriends embark on an ill-fated camping holiday.
- Episode 5 Rodent Engineers - Billy and Pincy set up a pest control business with the ability they claim to eliminate an epidemic of 'hyper mice' that have infested the Isle of Dogs.
- Episode 6 Standing on Your Own One Foot - Billy and Pincy move to a new flat. However it proves an unhappy move after they have a run-in with the area's racist local councillor and his cronies.
- Episode 7 Subterranean Pig Sick Blues - Pincy thinks he can to pull off the 'perfect' bank robbery, whilst also launching a scam involving dirty magazines. However things don't quite go to plan.
- Episode 8 Frying Tonight - Billy and Pincy get a job at their local chip shop. However things spiral out of control when they give marriage guidance advice to the owner George.
- Episode 9 Four Men in a Boat - Billy and Pincy get casual work as waiters on a wedding boat.
- Episode 10 Follow the Yellow Brick Lane - Billy falls in love with Bev (Hazel O'Connor) a headstrong singer dreaming of pop stardom.
- Episode 11 Running all the Way Part One - A police 'fit up' sees Billy and Pincy get sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit, unliking prison life, they escape!
- Episode 12 Running all the Way Part Two - Billy and Pincy find life hard on the run and start work for 'Tubby' a local gangster who has a feud with 'Stretch' another gangster who was seen in episode 3. They realise that maybe doing their time in prison may have been a better idea than choosing a life on the run.