|Rita, (Julie Walters) a working-class hairdresser with a sharp wit, is married to Denny, and at 26 doesn't want a baby. She wants to discover herself, so she joins the Open University. Dr. Frank Bryant (Michael Caine) is a disillusioned university professor of literature. His marriage has failed, his girlfriend is having an affair with his best friend and he can't get through the day without downing a bottle or two of whisky. He refers to himself as an appalling teacher of appalling students. What Frank needs is a challenge and along comes Rita. As Rita's intellectual perspective extends, she becomes torn between her oppressive home life and the attractive, but pretentious, world of her amorous tutor.