The film is set in London on the third or fourth anniversary of a nuclear war which lasted two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, including signing the peace treaty. Three (or possibly four) years after the nuclear holocaust, the survivors wander amidst the debris. Penelope is 17 months pregnant and lives with her lover, Alan, and her parents in a tube train on the (still functioning) Circle line.
Other survivors include Captain Bules Martin, who holds a "Defeat of England" medal, as he was unable to save Buckingham Palace from disintegration during the war. Lord Fortnum (Richardson) is fearful that he will mutate into the "bed sitting room" of the title. Mate is a fireguard, except that there is nothing left to burn. Shelter Man is a Regional Seat of Government who survived the war in a fallout shelter and spends his days looking at old films (without a projector) and reminiscing about the time he shot his wife and his mother as they pleaded with him to let them in his shelter. Similarly, the "National Health Service" is the name of a male nurse, who is overwhelmed by the extent of the war's aftermath. Finally, there are two policemen (Cook and Moore), who hover overhead in the shell of a Morris Minor Panda car that has been made into a makeshift balloon, and shout "keep moving" at any survivors they see to offset the danger of them becoming a target in the unlikely event of another outbreak of hostilities.
Lord Fortnum travels to 29 Cul de Sac Place and actually does become a bed-sitting room. Penelope's mother is provided with a death certificate, after which she turns into a wardrobe. Penelope is forced to marry Martin because of his "bright future", despite her love for Alan. Her father is initially selected to become Prime Minister due to "his inside leg measurements," but unfortunately, he mutates into a parrot and is eaten due to the starvation conditions that prevail.
Penelope finally gives birth, but her monstrous mutant progeny dies. It emerges that Martin is impotent, so he yields marriage consummation to Alan. Penelope has a second child, which is normal, and there is an indication of hope for the future of the country amidst the devastation when it transpires that a team of surgeons have developed a cure for the mutations involving full-body transplant. Finally, a military band pays homage to Mrs. Ethel Shroake of 393A High Street, Leytonstone, the late Queen's former charwoman, and closest in succession to the throne.
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