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, as well as a pre-Dynasty Gordon Thomson.
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 was syndicated to various 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 as 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 much 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. The real-life Cambridge, which is considered to be a part of the greater Kitchener-Waterloo area, 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 unlikeable people and both were kind of society snobs.
Paula, though troublesome, had her redeeming qualities. Although she had her share of conniving, she was a lot more sympathetic than her nastier sister.
Although a jet-setter, she also worked day-to-day. She 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 at that point, Paula gave her baby girl to her sister and brother in-law for them to raise as their own. Michael, of course, had a family of his own with Norma (the young Michael Jr. and Terri), but he still had feelings for Paula, feelings which hadn't subsided over time.
Upon hearing this devastating news, Jessie took her mother's maiden name of Myles, and then sexually went after her now Aunt Helen's former husband. She would find motherly love of another kind however.
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 had stored up for Terri. This would amplify the already-existing rivalry between her and Paula (as Paula still had feelings for Michael).
Norma didn't have any ill-will toward Jessie (as it wasn't her fault who her parents were) and saw her as an outlet that would bring her back to life again. With Jessie arriving in her life, Norma had a step-daughter that she could love and cherish. Although this was mainly a means to an end (to hurt Paula for her continued interest in her husband), her love and concern for Jessie was very sincere and this helped a lot with her mental issues.
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.
This relieved Amy, but again she becomes very jealous of Mike's sibling bond with Jessie. Mike began to look out for his half-sister, much as he had done with his late blood sister, Terri.
The irrational Amy saw Jessie's new happiness with Mike and her new family as a major threat to any hope of a life with him.
Amy clearly (and selfishly) wanted to be the only focus in Mike's life and she felt that Jessie was a never-ending pall over what she wanted. It didn't matter that Jessie was a part of his family now, she did not want any notion of Jessie being in Mike's life, period. This continual need to hurt Jessie began to concern Doris, and felt that Amy's irrationality would be her downfall.
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.
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 long-running Canadian 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 egyptologist, 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 the 37 year old 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 Ramona series of books by acclaimed author 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. She becomes the surrogate daughter of Michael's wife, Norma, and gains a new family with her father, step-mother and half-brother. She fills the void that Terri's death left in Norma's life, and gives her step-mother hope once again.
- 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. She would date neal sometimes.
- 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 community hospital.
- CANDACE O'CONNOR — Helen Myles Chapman Baker. Neal's nasty ex-wife. She and Neal married when they were very young, and he had left her after eight years of marriage. Revealed that she and Neal had taken in her sister's child, Jessie, and raised her. When she remarried, she sent Jessie, at that point, still unaware of her true parentage, to live with Meg Chapman.
- NUALA FITZGERALD — Paula Myles. Helen's somewhat more sympathetic sister. Though she has an affair with Michael Stewart, Sr. and makes an enemy of his wife, Norma, she is a lot more sympathetic than Helen. Although a jet-setter like her nastier sister, she works a full-time job as a fashion consultant at Gordon's Department Store. Jessie's real mother. Has a disconcerting 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) and his daughter succeeds in filling the void that Terri's death left in Norma's life.
- 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). Her recovery from the guilt of Terri's death is thanks to the entrance of Jessie Myles (whom she has no ill-will towards) in her life. Although this is a means to an end (getting Paula back for her continued interest in Michael), her love for her new step-daughter is sincere and she and Jessie, herself adrift after the revelation that Neal and Helen were not her parents, bond immediately, and they prove to be a good support for each other.
- 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 to her as Jessie's brother (looking out for her, as he had done with his blood sister, Terri); but would later begin to date the irrational Amy Sperry, who did not like the idea of Jessie being in ANY aspect of Mike's life.
- BARBARA KYLE — Trudy Bowen. A local Cambridge television 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 half-sister (their father was Michael Stewart, Sr.), 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. Doesn't approve of Amy's continual troublemaking with Jessie Myles and Michael Stewart, Jr. and wishes her daughter would leave Jessie alone.
- 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.