Sharon Theodopolopolous and Tracey Stubbs are sisters. Tracey lives with her husband Daryl at Dal'n'Trace, a des res in leafy Chigwell, whilst Sharon survives in a council flat. One day their husbands go out to work and fail to return. This is because they have been arrested and subsequently sentenced to twelve years for armed robbery. Tracey invites Sharon to move in with her, and introduces her to the next door Dorien, who has a husband and a penchant for younger men.
Whilst Sharon is over-joyed to be rid of Chris, a 'toe-rag' who cheats on her with other women, Tracey is devastated to be without her beloved Daryl and the sisters' visit to Maidstone prison yields different reactions. Then Tracey must break the news to her son Garth at his boarding school.
Whilst Sharon revels in the joys of moving up in the world and joining Dorien to sell clothes, a depressed Tracey finds that her credit card is being refused and goes back to her old job as a supermarket check-out girl, though she feels unwelcome and is not keen to persevere.
Whilst Sharon has sex in daring places with new lover Dave, Tracey believes she is pregnant though when Dorien takes her to see a doctor and the results of the pregnancy testing kit come through it turns out to be Sharon who is expecting and who later has an abortion, to her boyfriend's dismay.
Tracey is depressed and her doctor tells her to get out more so she accompanies Dorien to a dinner-dance where Dorien cops off with the man she lined up for Tracey and Tracey gets hit on by Dorien's husband Marcus. Sharon agrees to sell pirate Rolling Stones tour T-shirts for her lodger Stan and is almost done for fraud.
Sharon gets into philosophy whilst Tracey gets mad when she opens a letter from Daryl addressed to 'Darling Juliet' and considers sleeping with Dorien's lodger, a handsome Irish footballer, in revenge. However he will not be party to a rebound relationship and Tracey is relieved when she learns the truth from Daryl.
Tracey finds out that, before he was sent down, Darryl bought two tickets for them to go on a Christmas cruise. To the annoyance of Sharon, she decides to take Garth but when she learns that Garth is going to Germany with his school choir for the holiday she refuses to go at all. Fortunately Dorien proves to be a good neighbour by purporting to buy the tickets for herself and Marcus and inviting the sisters to come on board to wave her off.. .which turns out to be a ruse to trick Tracey into taking the cruise.