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Back before he became a real slime as Adam Carrington on Dynasty, Gordon Thomson played Michael Stewart, Jr on the Canadian series, High Hopes.

High Hopes was a 1978 Canadian television soap opera that was shown on both Canadian and United States television, starring established performers Bruce Gray; Jayne Eastwood; Dorothy Malone and Nehemiah Persoff.

The series was produced by Y&R Associates, Ltd (a division of advertising agency, Young and Rubicam), in conjunction with DCA Productions, Incorporated, and was filmed at Glenn-Warren Studios in Toronto, Ontario.

It was broadcast in Canada weekday afternoons on CBC Television, and syndicated to US television stations. Canadian producer was Karen Hazzard. The show was initially directed by Bruce Minnix, and later by several Canadian directors, including Nigel Napier-Andrews. It was written by Bryan Barney, Mort Forer, Marian Waldman and Winifred Wolfe.

The High Hopes of the people of Cambridge/Cambridgeport

Gray headlined the show, playing the role of Dr. Neal Chapman, a psychiatrist/family counselor who lived and worked in Cambridgeport, a fictitious community located somewhere in Canada.

Cambridgeport was a suburb located across an unknown river from the larger industrial city of Cambridge, where most of the characters worked or did business. Although the province where both Cambridge and Cambridgeport were located was never revealed, there is a real life Cambridge located in Ontario, near Kitchener-Waterloo. The real-life Cambridge was created out of an amalgamation of the communities of Galt, Blair, Preston and Hespeler.

Neal, who grew up in Cambridgeport, was also associated with Delaney College (presumably he worked there as well as a professor or as a counselor), which was Cambridge's institution of higher learning. Much of the action was set at either the college, or in his large home which also served as his office.

Neal was divorced from Helen Baker, nee Helen Myles, (Candace O'Connor), whom he had left after eight years of marriage (Neal and Helen married when they were very young), and only returned when she remarried; and they (supposedly) had a grown daughter, Jessica, nicknamed Jessie (Marianne McIssac), a student at Delaney College, who lived with him. After her remarriage, the thoroughly unlikeable Helen, sent Jessie to live with her grandmother, Meg Chapman (Doris Petrie).

Both Helen and her twice divorced sister, Paula Myles (Nuala Fitzgerald), were very unlikeable people and both were kind of society snobs.

Paula, though troublesome, was also a lot more sympathetic than her nastier sister. Although a jet-setter, she also worked as a fashion coordinator for Gordon's Department Store, the top retailer in Cambridge. Paula also had a disconcerting habit of calling her secretary, "sweetie".

Also living in the large Chapman house was Meg, who had moved into her son's house after an accident prevented her from living alone, She was sympathetic and the voice of reason mother/grandmother of the house; Louise Bates (Eastwood) a Cambridge real estate agent who had sold Neal his house, and his close friend, Cambridge attorney Walter Telford (Colin Fox, Granville Van Dusen), who lived with his wife, Evelyn Telford (Deborah Turnbull).

Walter, Evelyn, Louise and another person, Dr. Jean Bataille, were all paying tenants in Neal's home in an effort to help him with money.

Neal also worked with Dr. Dan Girard (Jan Muszynski), a young physician who worked at Cambridge's community hospital.

Despite his numerous counseling appointments (both out of his house and at the college) and his continual work at the hospital, Neal also found time for romance. He was involved romantically with Louise and also with local television talk show host, Trudy Bowen (Barbara Kyle). He was also the target of a crush by his own daughter.

One of the families Neal counseled most frequently was the Stewart family, one of Cambridge's more affluent families, which was composed of successful businessman husband Michael Stewart, Sr. (Michael Tait), the president of Gordon's Department Store; his society wife, Norma, (Vivian Reis), who was his primary client, as she has had mental health issues, and their son, Michael, Jr. (Gordon Thomson), who was dating Jessie Chapman at the time.

The Stewarts also had a daughter, Terri, who had been killed in an auto accident, which sent Norma into her mental decline. She became agoraphobic, not wanting to go out at all. "I can't even go out and enjoy myself," she wailed, "when I put our Terri in a grave!"

Another family he counseled was the more middle-class Sperrys, Amy (Gina Dick), a student at Delaney College and a friend of Jessie's, and her mother, Doris (Mignon Elkins). Jessie and Amy's friendship would sunder over young Michael Stewart, Jr, whom both were interested in.

Still another family was Victor Tauss (Persoff), presumably a doctor or a professor at the college, and his wife, Carol Tauss (Malone). Carol had a daughter named Marie, who was very upset that her mother remarried only a few months after her natural father (the Aaron Herzog character?) died of a heart attack. Marie felt guilty because she had been shoplifting. After Marie came clean, she reconciled with Victor and her mother, and they left Cambridge for good.

Much of the focus of the series was Neal counseling his many clients, who were either members of the larger Cambridge/Cambridgeport community, and/or Delaney College's students and faculty, whilst he had his own dark and hidden secret.

Neal had to deal with the devastating secret of realizing that Jessie wasn't his and Helen's daughter at all. She was revealed to be the daughter of Paula and another man. What made it difficult was that Neal wanted to reveal the whole story to Jessie about her true parentage, as she was 18 and was entitled to know the full story; however, Paula did not want the truth revealed and for Jessie to remain in the dark.

It turned out that Paula had had an affair with Michael Stewart, Sr. (which earned her the enmity of Norma) and from their affair they conceived a daughter, a daughter who would turn out to be Jessie. Because she felt she couldn't take care of her, Paula gave her baby to her sister and brother in-law for them to raise as their own. Michael had a family of his own with Norma (the young Michael Jr. and Terri), but he still had feelings for Paula.

Upon hearing this, Jessie took Paula's name of Myles, and then sexually went after her now Aunt Helen's former husband. Jessie's real father would be revealed to be Michael Stewart, Sr. The arrival of Jessie in her family's life allowed for Norma, who was still grieving Terri's death, to bond with her and to lavish the love on her that she did for Terri, and this amplified an already-existing rivalry between her and Paula (as Paula still had feelings for Michael).

Amy found out that Jessie was not Neal and Helen's daughter, and the idea that now, Mike Jr, the guy she and her former friend were fighting over, was now Jessie's half-brother, removed her as a romantic rival, but she still becomes very jealous of Mike's sibling bond with Jessie.

The show had a brief six month run in 1978, and was eventually cancelled. Musical arrangement was produced by Aeolus Productions, known for the themes and musical cues on American soap operas like All My Children, Ryan's Hope and One Life to Live.

Notable Alumni

Many notable actors had starred on the show, but Gray; Eastwood; Persoff and Malone were the ones who were already well established when this show aired. Persoff was a long-time character actor, Eastwood was an established Canadian comedienne; Gray worked in both the US and Canada in various roles, and Malone was of course best known for her role of Constance MacKenzie on the TV adaptation of Peyton Place

However, actor Gordon Thomson is undoubtedly the show's most successful alumnus. Thomson (in his first ever main role after leaving the children's series, Polka Dot Door) played Michael Stewart, Jr., the son of the wealthiest family in Cambridge/Cambridgeport and one of the show's pivotal characters.

After playing Aristotle Benedict-White, an archeologist, on the soap opera, Ryan's Hope, he would go on to much greater fame as the villainous Adam Carrington, the oldest of the four children of Blake and Alexis Carrington, on the 1980s prime-time soap Dynasty.  The show's producer, Aaron Spelling, had chosen Thomson personally to play the role of Adam.

Actors Granville Van Dusen and Colin Fox, both of whom played Neal's best friend, attorney Walter Telford, would also become quite successful. Fox was an established soap veteran (playing a dual role on the Canadian series, Strange Paradise with later Love of Life star, Tudi Wiggins); and Van Dusen would play parts on both dramatic (The Young and the Restless) and comedic TV shows (Soap).

Actor Geraint Wyn Davies, who was best known for his role on the supernatural television series Forever Knight, was also featured on the show in one of his earliest roles, playing a Delaney College student named Glen.

Jayne Eastwood (Louise Bates) would later play Ramona Quimby's third-grade school teacher, Mrs. Whaley in the series, Ramona, based on the books by Beverly Cleary.

Main Cast and characters

  • BRUCE GRAY — Dr. Neal Chapman. A marriage and family counselor who harbors a dark secret of his own. Former husband of Helen; supposed father of Jessie, later revealed to not be. A Cambridgeport native, he lives in a large house with several others, including his mother.
  • DORIS PETRIE — Meg Chapman. Mother of Neal who moved into his large house after an accident at her own home. Thought to be the grandmother of Jessie, but was revealed not to be. She took care of Jessie after the selfish Helen remarried.
  • MARIANNE McISAAC — Jessica "Jessie" Myles (Chapman).  One of the shows more pivotal characters. A student at Delaney College. At first thought to be the daughter of Neal and Helen Chapman, but was later revealed to be the daughter of Paula Myles (Helen's sister) and Michael Stewart, Sr. Half-sister of Mike, Jr. whom she used to date. Former friend of Amy Sperry. Is lavished and treated as a daughter by her step-mother, Norma.
  • JAYNE EASTWOOD — Louise Bates. A Cambridge real estate agent who sold Neal his large home and lives in it with him as one of his paying tenants.
  • GRANVILLE VAN DUSEN— Walter Telford #2
  • COLIN FOX — Walter Telford #1. Walter is Neal's long time best friend. One of Cambridge's most prominent attorneys. Married to Evelyn.
  • DEBORAH TURNBULL — Evelyn Telford. Walter's wife. She and Walter also live in Neal's large house as paying tenants.
  • JAN MUSZYNSKI — Dr. Dan Girard. A friend of Neal's. A young doctor who works at Cambridge's hospital.
  • CANDACE O'CONNOR — Helen Myles Chapman Baker. Neal's nasty ex-wife. Revealed that she and Neal had taken in her sister's child, Jessie, and raised her. When she remarried, she sent Jessie to live with Meg Chapman.
  • NUALA FITZGERALD — Paula Myles. Helen's somewhat more sympathetic sister. Although she has an affair with Michael Stewart, Sr. and makes an enemy of his wife, Norma, she is a lot more sympathetic than Helen. A jet-setter, she works as a fashion consultant at Gordon's Department Store. Jessie's real mother. Has an odd habit of referring to her secretary as "sweetie".
  • MICHAEL TAIT — Michael Stewart, Sr. The president of Gordon's, Cambridge's leading department store. Married to Norma and the father of two children with her, Michael Jr. and Terri, who is deceased. He is later revealed to be the father of Jessie Myles (her mother is Paula, whom he had an affair with and still has feelings for).
  • VIVIAN REIS — Norma Stewart. Wife of Michael Sr.; Mother of Michael Jr. and the late Terri. An agoraphobic (after her daughter's death) and getting help for it from Neal. Has a rivalry with Paula Myles (whom she dislikes for being her husband's mistress), and solidifes it by taking her daughter. Jessie, and treating her like her own daughter, seeing her as a substitute for Terri.
  • GORDON THOMSON — Michael Stewart, Jr. Son of Michael Sr. and Norma. Brother of the late Terri. Another pivotal character. A student at Delaney College, he once dated Jessie Myles, until he discovered she was his half-sister. He would be close as Jessie's brother; but would later begin to date Amy Sperry.
  • BARBARA KYLE — Trudy Bowen. A local Cambridge talk show host. She would later date Neal Chapman.
  • GINA DICK — Amy Sperry. A Delaney College student, once close friends with Jessie Myles, but would end their friendship over Michael Stewart, Jr. Although Jessie would remove herself from romantic contention as she would be revealed to be Mike's sister, Amy was still jealous over the sibling bond Jessie had with Mike and wanted to be the only focus of his life. This jealousy led her to get counseling with Dr. Neal Chapman.
  • MIGNON ELKINS — Doris Sperry. Amy's mother.
  • DOROTHY MALONE -- Carol Tauss. A remarried widow who had issues with her daughter, Marie.
  • NEHEMIAH PERSOFF — Victor Tauss. Victor is Carol's second husband. He had an enemy in his stepdaughter (from Carol's first marriage) Marie. Once Marie's issues were resolved (she had a massive guilt complex for causing her father's death because of her shoplifting), the family reconciled and they left Cambridge, a happier family unit.
  • GERAINT WYN DAVIES — Glen. A Delaney College student and a friend of Mike, Jessie and Amy.
  • CINDY GIRLING -- The unnamed Principal of Cambridge's high school.

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