Alan Bleasdale's five-part series relates the further experiences of unemployed Liverpudlian tarmac layers Dixie, Chrissie, Loggo and Yosser, and their revered older friend, retired longshoreman and union leader, George Malone. As they struggle to make ends meet in a depressed economy, and to hold together their financially battered families, they are harrassed by the petty bureaucrats of the DHSS. But the lumbering investigational juggernaut is, both comically and tragically, guided by drivers with only a provisional license.
Yosser reaches the end of the line as the utility men, rent collectors, and social workers invade his home. Why on earth doesn't he turn his three small children over to his estranged wife, Maureen, rather than let them be taken into care?
The boys sign on at the Department of Employment and then collect George's son, Snowy, on their way to an off-the-books construction job for Malloy. Much to their amusement, the conversion job turns out to be the future new offices of the D.O.E. Unfortunately, D.O.E. officials Moss and Lawton suspect their scam and are determined to catch them in the act. Ineptitude on several sides, however, leads to tragedy.
In desperation to feed and clothe his four children, Dixie takes an illicit job as a night security guard at the docks. He soon discovers that one man alone on a ship at night can do nothing but turn a blind eye to a gang of pilferers but, if the missing goods are noticed, what will he tell his boss, whose small security company is struggling to survive? Meanwhile, the petty bureucrats at the D.O.E. launch an undercover operation, and Dixie's wife Freda is too frightened to open the door to the house.
Pending the outcome of the moonlighting enquiry, Chrissie's dole money has been stopped, and this precipitates a showdown with his wife, Angie. Meanwhile, at the D.O.E., middle management is completely out of control since the Manager, Miss Sutcliffe, has more important things to worry about than running her department. As Chrissie and Angie's row reaches its climax, violence erupts.
As George's health declines, his belief in the values of Old Labour remain unshaken. Chrissie takes him for one last tour of the now-abandoned docklands where he once worked, and they have what may well be the most important and heartfelt conversation of their long friendship.
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