Year – 1961
Down at the local labour exchange, everyone is moaning about the lack of decent jobs, unaware that nearby Bert Handy and his secretary Miss Cooling are attempting to fill vacancies, at a new enterprise called Helping Hands. When word gets round, people are quick to visit the agency, notably Sam Twist, Francis Courtenay, Delia King, Gabriel Dimple, Lily Duveen, Mike Weston and Montgomery Infield-Hopping. Bert decides to hire them all and at first business is slow. The only customer is a man who speaks gobbledygook but since Francis (who can speak 16 languages) is not present nobody can understand him and he goes on his way. Within a few days business picks up and Delia has an assignment to try on a complete women’s wardrobe for Mr Delling, a gentleman who is planning a surprise for his wife. However things get complicated when the man’s wife arrives home unexpectedly.
Meanwhile, Sam Twist is sent to a babysitting job, only to find that there is not a baby to be sat, instead, there is Mrs Panting, a woman who needs to make her husband jealous, succeeding in the process with Sam getting a black eye. The following day, Francis is assigned to take a pet for a walk but when he gets to the owner’s house, he finds out it is a chimpanzee. He takes the chimp for a walk and soon discovers that people who work in the transport industry have an aversion to apes. They eventually end up at a chimps tea party, enjoying a nice afternoon tea. Next is Lily Duveen, who has been employed at a wine tasting evening, to collect invitation cards from the attendees. After she has performed this task, she samples some of the wines and makes a bit of a spectacle of herself.
Later a man from Amalgamated Scrap-Iron arrives in the Helping Hands office. He is obviously busy as he requests that someone take his place in the queue, at the hospital outpatients department. Bert says he will get someone on the case but the chap insists that the top man does the job himself, so Bert ends up queuing at the hospital where he is mistaken for an eminent diagnostician. The next job that Francis undertakes, is in the field of photography as a model. Obviously very chuffed that he has been chosen, he is crestfallen when he discovers that the job is an advertisement for a beekeeper’s helmet. His next job is between a bickering couple. The husband can not understand his wife, who continually berates him in her native German. Thanks to Francis getting a bit emotionally involved, the wife starts speaking English and the couple makes up.
Lefty Vincent, a boxing friend of Bert’s, pops into the office. He requires four helpers to act as seconds, for his fighter Dynamite Dan. When they get to the venue, Dan is terrified by his opponent, Mickey McGee, so pretends that he has sprained his finger. The fight is off until Gabriel takes on McGee instead. Sam is excited over his next job. Due to a mix-up, he thinks he is on a top-secret spying mission to the Forth Bridge (recalling Alfred Hitchcock’s film The 39 Steps), when all that is required of him is to make up a fourth in a game of bridge. When Sam gets back, he learns that the whole of Helping Hands have been engaged to demonstrate exhibits at the Ideal House Exhibition (based on the real Ideal Home Exhibition). Needless to say, all of the demonstrations end in calamity. Sam’s next job is at an exclusive men’s club, where no matter how hard he tries he can not keep silent, which is a strict rule of the establishment.
Miss Cooling decides on a new filing system, for a more streamlined operation and job cards are put in cubby holes for each of the workers. Disaster strikes when the cleaner knocks the box down and puts the cards back all mixed up. Everyone gets someone else’s assignment, with misunderstandings all around. Finally, the gobbledygook man turns up again and this time Francis is there to translate. He is their landlord and has been trying to inform Bert that he will have to vacate the premises because he has had a better offer. Due to a show of unity by all the staff, the landlord agrees that they can stay, on the provision that they do something for him. His main interest is a property development and he needs a house cleared and cleaned. Unfortunately, the team end up demolishing the house but thankfully it turns out that the landlord has changed his mind and decided to demolish it and replace it with a luxury block of flats (or “flabberblob”), so all ends well.