Mild, middle-aged Graham Whittaker (who we learn is a repressed homosexual with a history of mild mental health problems) finds life becoming complicated as his mother, with whom he still lives, reunites with an old flame named Frank Turnbull. Graham becomes increasingly jealous when Mr Turnbull takes an ever-growing hold on Mam, especially when Frank proposes marriage while simultaneously suggesting Graham moves out of the house to a hostel. But Mr Turnbull is hiding a secret, and when Graham finds out he triumphantly confronts his mother with the information, ...
Susan, an alcoholic, nervous vicar's wife who has to travel into Leeds to go to the off-licence because of her debts with the local shop keeper, distracts herself from her ambitious, and, as she sees him, vainly insensitive husband and his doting parishioners by conducting an affair with a nearby grocer, Ramesh Ramesh, discovering something about herself and God in the process.
Muriel is a strong woman, and always has been - a pillar of the community, a regular charity worker, and a volunteer for Meals on Wheels; and looking after her mentally ill daughter, Margaret, has fortified her resolve - so, after the death of her husband, Muriel is well-prepared to cope with the crisis. However, given her son's ineptitude (or dishonesty) with money, and the vile secret behind Margaret's illness, Muriel finds that she needs to adapt in order to 'soldier on.'
Lesley is an aspiring actress, who, after a series of unpromising extra roles on television programmes such as Crossroads, finds what she believes to be her big break as the adventurous Travis in a new film for the West German market. It is not clear to what extent Lesley understands that she is appearing in a soft pornographic film.
Doris, aged seventy-five, is a tidy woman - and when she suffers a fall after trying to clear up after her considerably less thorough home help, Zulema, it becomes apparent that her constant nagging may have been responsible for her husband's early death. Alone and injured, she wonders whether the only place left for her in society is a care home which she distrusts. Resisting this with all her being, she decides she'd rather die on her own in considerable pain than live in a care home 'smelling of pee'.