Middle aged Chris Harper (Dame Helen Mirren) and Annie Clarke (Dame Julie Walters) are best friends. They spend much of their time at their local Knapely, Yorkshire County chapter of the Women’s Institute (WI), whose motto is “enlightenment, fun, and friendship”. Although they like most of the women at the WI (the friendship part), they, but the perceived flaky Chris in particular, hold the way Marie (Geraldine James), the local President, runs the chapter with derision. They find much of what goes on there, especially the monthly presentations, banal and devoid of enlightenment and fun. Equally as banal was last year’s fund-raising calendar, featuring local bridges, which raised a meager £75.60, with this year’s proposed calendar, local churches, promising to be even more so. After Annie’s husband John (John Alderton) dies from leukemia, Chris wants the WI to provide a memorial in his memory: a new sofa for the family room at the hospital.
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