Ria Parkinson (Wendy Craig) is a bored housewife and mother. She spends her time daydreaming, and meets regularly with wealthy businessman Leonard to relieve the monotony.
Husband Ben, a dentist and avid butterfly collector (Geoffrey Palmer) is oblivious to it all, and her unemployed grown up sons, who both live at home (Nicholas Lyndhurst - who went on to better things, and Andrew Hall - who didn't) also have other things on their minds, especially girlfriends.
Adam has crashed his car and Ben and Russell have not spoken to each other in almost a year. In a cafe Ria meets charming businessman Leonard Dutton, who makes her feel good about herself. After a second, accidental meeting he suggests they go back to the cafe again next day. Ria arrives but feels guilty and leaves before Leonard turns up.
One reason that makes Ria feel less than good about herself is that she is a bad cook. She has to use emotional blackmail to get the family to eat her apple sponge but her latest culinary disaster at least gets Ben and Russell speaking to each other. She meets Leonard again but is not keen to see him on a regular basis.
Ria feels stifled at home and would like to get a job but Ben is not supportive. He got angry when he discovered the boys busking. Leonard is arrested for speeding,having given Ria a lift when her car broke down. He loses his licence and Ria applies to be his driver but the job goes to the discreet and worldly Thomas.
Leonard leaves a note on the windscreen of Ria's car,suggesting they have lunch together. Unfortunately the car is being used by her sons,who are puzzled by the note and it never reaches her. Leonard tries again to contact Ria but without success. Ria finally confronts Ben and accuses him of not being spontaneous,so he drags her off to go camping in a tent.
Russell feels very strongly that a sculpture The Lovers,being exhibited locally,should not be sold to an American millionaire. After another row with Leonard,Ria joins Russell at the gallery where they chain themselves to the statue in protest,attracting the press. Whilst Ben is annoyed that the papers got his age wrong Ria gets a call from Leonard to say he has bought The Lovers to ensure it stays in England.
Adam has had a poodle perm and has taken to wearing a crash helmet around the house so that Ben does not find out. However Ben has been told by a male patient that,in order to keep a wife on her toes,he should be unpredictable,so he stays out until midnight,annoying Ria. Ria goes to chat with Leonard,admitting that she wishes that her life was ordered. She sees him as one of its complications and wonders if he'll 'have to go'.