Rab C. Nesbitt is a drunken, string vested lay about who lives with his long suffering wife Mary and his two sons in the working class area of Govan in Glasgow. When he's not getting drunk with his pals that include the devious, womanizing Jamesie Cotter. He's offering his philosophical outlook on life to whoever will listen.
After waiting three days for Rab to come back from the butcher shop on what should have been a routine purchase, Mary moves out and leaves Rab and their sons to look after themselves. Rab is comforted by his pals at the pub and things are made even worse when Rab is forced into work after being called into the job centre.
Rab gets involved in the local by-elections and Mary finds a rat in the kitchen.
The Nesbitts are in Spain on holiday, after Mary wins a competition on a packet of oven chips.
Rab is told by the doctor that he only has a year to live, if he doesn't stop drinking that is.
The police are after Rab for outstanding payments. Gash runs off to London in search of his girlfriend and Rab also decides to do a runner to London, so he drops in on a relative, "Hugh" better known as "Shug" by his family who he is ashamed to have as he lives an English lifestyle now.