Brian Stimpson (John Cleese) is the punctilious and highly disciplined headmaster of a Gloucestershire comprehensive school who sets out to chair the annual Headmasters’ Conference in Norwich – the pinnacle of his career.
But he misses the train and, with his timing awry, his world begins to fall apart and his whole moral fabric is torn to shreds.
He hijacks a lift from a pupil (Sharon Maiden) who has been canoodling with the music master but the harder he tries to get to Norwich on time, the more the gods twist the knife within the guts of his obsessive rectitude, resulting in increasingly hair-raising escapades en route across the country.
He ends up as a careless driver, telephone box vandal and worse as Stimpson’s wife (Alison Steadman) chases after him with a party of confused geriatrics, assorted policemen, the Norwich CID, the Regional Crime Squad and outraged parents following him into the country house conference centre.
Cleese dominates the film, but hard as he tries to conceal it, a certain Mr Fawlty tends to surface, if only in the mind’s eye.