Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) is an enthusiastic young man who has just graduated from Oxford and now seeks a career in industry, much to the consternation of his aunt Dolly (Margaret Rutherford) who is horrified at the idea.
Windrush aims for a role in management but meets with misfortune when he attempts gaining employment at a detergent factory and antagonises his employers by pointing out how the customers are being ripped off.
After visiting his uncle Bertram Tracepurcel (Dennis Price) Stanley gains employment lower down the ladder, as an unskilled labourer at his uncle’s armaments factory (Missiles Ltd) but his uncle has ulterior motives for giving Stanley a job.
The factory manager Major Hitchcock (Terry-Thomas) is trying to undertake a time and motion study by hiding Water’s (John Le Mesurier) amongst the workforce to clock their productivity, but the workforce are ever vigilant of a new face in their midst.
The introduction of upper-class Stanley Windrush as a fork-lift truck driver sets alarm bells ringing within the factory – even more so when he admits to not being a union member.
Enter the union shop steward, the memorable Fred Kite (Peter Sellers), upon hearing the news of a non-union member working in the factory Kite heads for the manager’s office in the belief Windrush is a time and motion man, and to demand his sacking. But Major Hitchcock points out that Windrush’s appointment was due to a clerical error and agrees to terminate his employment.
Realising Windrush is an innocent individual, Kite has an immediate U-turn – and threatens to strike if he is sacked. Hitchcock and Kite then agree that Windrush will be kept on despite his lack of union membership, and Fred goes even further by offering Stanley lodgings in his home.
Stanley Windrush is unwittingly duped by Water’s into taking part in a time and motion study, Windrush shows how many more crates could be loaded and unloaded if the workforce were more efficient.
Using the evidence provided by Stanley a new schedule is printed by the company, the workforce is outraged and a livid Kite calls a strike.
Unknown to the workforce, Tracepurcel the factory owner has in fact introduced the new schedule to instigate a strike so that fellow missile manufacturer Sidney de Vere Cox’s (Richard Attenborough) factory can complete an Arabian arms contract at an inflated price, and split the profits between the two factory owners and the Arab delegate Mr Mohammed (Marne Maitland).
The plan seems perfect until Cox’s factory goes on strike in sympathy, thus throwing Tracepurcel and Cox’s plans awry.
Soon Windrush is the centre of everybody’s problems as he remains the sole worker at the factory despite the strike, and the union won’t return while he’s still employed.
A meeting between Kite and Major Hitchcock brings forward a solution, that Windrush is suffering from mental stress due to working the new schedules, and all that remains is for Windrush to be convinced to leave quietly.
A TV debate is held for all sides in the dispute to air their views before the nation, before going live on-air Cox explains all to Stanley and offers him his share of the profits. Stanley then goes on live television to air his views on both the management and the unions, during which he manages to throw the show into chaos.
Liz Fraser, who was 28 at the time, won a BAFTA nomination for her role as gorgeous Cynthia Kite.
Sidney de Vere Cox
John Le Mesurier
TV Panel Chairman