Rita (Julie Walters), a hairdresser with a sharp wit, is married to Denny (Malcolm Douglas), and at 26 doesn't want a baby. She wants to discover herself - so she joins the Open University. Dr. Frank Bryant (Michael Caine) is a disillusioned university professor of literature. His marriage has failed, his girlfriend is having an affair with his best friend and he can't get through the day without drowning a bottle or two of whiskey. He refers to himself as an appalling teacher of appalling students. What Frank needs is a challenge...along comes Rita. In this hilarious and often moving drama, the story tells how two people find a new lease of life through each other.