The year is 1929 and in the opening episode Jeremiah Unsworth (Freddie Jones), the proprietor of the undertakers, dies. This leaves his widow Ivy (Thora Hird) and gormless nephew Billy (Christopher Beeny) to take over the business.
As might be expected, the accident-prone Ivy and Billy have numerous mishaps, and hardly a funeral goes by without something untoward occurring.
The setting for the show is the fictional Yorkshire town of Oldshaw during the 1930s. The writer Dick Sharples chose this period as this was the time when undertakers were switching from horse drawn hearses to mechanical ones.
Billy finally marries his beautiful bride - only to find that Ivy intends to accompany the newlyweds on their honeymoon to Robin Hood's Bay.
Billy and his new bride have scarcely a minute to themselves on their honeymoon...until the ever-present Auntie Ivy makes a startling announcement.
Mary's feeling jealous of Billy's past girlfriends, with her worst fear confirmed when he's seen with district nurse Tiger Lilly Longstaff, the Mata Hari of Oldshaw East.
It's smiles all round as Ivy shows family photos to her nephew's new bride...until an old wedding group photo turns up, apparently showing Billy as the groom!
The strenuous sport of fell running has obvious attractions for any undertaker on the lookout for clients, and Ivy's greatest rival will stop at nothing to get in first.
An unfortunate accident in the planting of the late Alderman Cartwright, caused by the incompetence of the hired help, drives Ivy to advertise for a proper apprentice.