This semi-autobiographical miniseries based on the books of Frederic Raphael traces the lives of a group of Cambridge undergraduates surrounding Adam Morris (Tom Conti) from the 50s to the 70s.
In 1953 Adam Morris wins a scholarship to Cambridge, a stepping-stone for those with ambition to build lives and careers. In his first year at college he makes several new friends and a few enemies. He sets out to antagonise his upper-class roommate but soon finds himself in deeper water than he had anticipated.
In 1955, in their final year at Cambridge, Adam's friends make their preparation for life in the outside world, some by laying the foundation stones of their careers, many pairing off in the marriage stakes, a few by doing both.
In 1960, Adam Morris publishes his first novel, starts to write for movies and decides he wishes to confront a formidable adversary - the brilliant but dangerous Stephen Taylor, one of the main supporters of British fascism in the 30s.
In 1964, Alan Parks, now a notorious television interviewer, decides to visit the country with his wife Barbara. They descend on their old Cambridge friends Joyce and Dan Bradley - disrupting their quiet lives.
In 1970, Bill Bourne returns from America to work at a new university where several of his old college friends are now teaching. They find themselves taunted by a new generation of students for their outdated 'Cambridge' approach to life.
In 1976, Adam Morris, now a rich and successful writer, has more than his share of the 'glittering prizes'. He is happily married, with two children. Despite all this, Adam is still not satisfied, and he attempts to come to terms with his material success by leading a double life.