In the 1950s, when Britain was still recovering from the effects of the war, the only people in society who could be said to have a glamorous lifestyle were the very wealthy, the aristocracy, and people who worked in the theatre.
Elsie Lancaster is the granddaughter of a hardened old professional actress who runs a seaside boarding house.
Oliver is the third son of an Catholic aristocratic Yorkshire family whose mother has run off, so the theatre-mad butler has brought him up like a son to be a Great Actor.
Coco Hampton, Oliver's best friend, has been raised in Sloane Street by Gladys, her profligate guardian, who is always borrowing money from Coco to buy more clothes.
Gladys and Oliver have been fans of the theatre since they were knee-high, but Coco has only ever wanted to be a designer. When Coco joins Oliver at his drama school in London, to his chagrin she promptly gets cast in films because of her photogenic looks. Meanwhile, Elsie is 'discovered' in the provinces by Portly Cosgrove, but is sacked by Portly's partner, who runs off with their assets. She is forced to retire from the stage while suicidal Portly walks the streets.
Oliver meets and falls in love with Elsie. Meanwhile, on location, Coco has her first affair with a handsome actor and falls pregnant by mistake...