George and Mildred Roper (Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce) have left their old house after receiving a compulsory purchase order from the Council and move to 46 Peacock Crescent in Hampton Wick. While Mildred enjoys the chance to better herself in her new surroundings, she is always being thwarted—usually by the lazy and generally unemployed George, who has no interest in climbing the social ladder, and continues to show a lack of interest in sexual relations with Mildred.
George and Mildred's yuppie next-door neighbours are Jeffrey Fourmile (Norman Eshley), a snobbish estate agent, and his wife Ann (Sheila Fearn). They have a young son called Tristram (Nicholas Bond-Owen), who gets on well with Mildred and George, and in series 3 a second child called Tarquin (Simon Lloyd) is born. The Conservative-supporting Jeffrey is greatly irritated by socialist George, who frequently annoys him.
Mildred's snobbish sister Ethel (Avril Elgar) and her wealthy husband Humphrey (Reginald Marsh) occasionally visit, as does Mildred's mother (Gretchen Franklin). Mildred often makes subtle and unsubtle digs at Ethel's age, or social status and pretensions, when Ethel visits. George's friend Jerry (Roy Kinnear), a jack-of-all-trades, also visits, much to Mildred's annoyance. Jerry is fond of referring to Mildred as "Mildew".
George and Mildred contains examples of:
- The Alleged Car: George's Morris Minor from Man About the House was replaced for this series with a Reliant Regal three-wheel car in equally poor condition. This disappeared without explanation during the first season with George buying an old clapped-out motorcycle with a sidecar, which Mildred rightfully hates. This manages to embarrass her in the Series 2 opening titles, when the sidecar detaches and leaves her stranded in front of the peering Fourmiles.
- Awful Wedded Life: George and Mildred are never without a squabble in any given episode. The finale, "The Twenty-Six Year Itch", has George realise he doesn't love her, and would be happier with Beryl.
- Ethel and Humphrey also count, considering how Ethel only seems to be in it for the money.
- Awkwardly-Placed Bathtub: In "You Must Have Showers", the water in the bathroom is off due to plumbing work. Rather than lug water upstairs to take a bath, George decides to bathe in an old tin bath in the living room. Mildred brings the women from her keep fit class home and George attempts to hide by ducking under the surface of the water. Hilarity Ensues.
- British Brevity: Five series, 38 episodes total. Plans for a sixth series were cut short by Yootha Joyce's death in 1980.
- Cheerful Child: Tristram is never without a smile on his face. He does have a fabulous ability to blurt out awkward truths, though.
- Christmas Episode: Three throughout the series:
- "No Business Like Show Business" (Series 2).
- "On the Second Day of Christmas" (Series 4).
- "The Twenty-Six Year Itch" (Series 5).
- Crooked Contractor: Jerry may not actually be crooked as such, but he is unbelievably shonky.
- Crossdresser: Both George and Jeffrey have to wear dresses and makeup for a "Cinderella" pantomime in "No Business Like Show Business".
- D.I.Y. Disaster: Jerry somehow manages to hook the Ropers' shower up to the Fourmile's plumbing in "You Must Have Showers".
- Drop-In Character: Jerry pops in to do work for George that always goes wrong.
- Faint in Shock: George after seeing Ann giving birth in "The Delivery Man"
- Friend to All Children: Even though George is odd and irresponsible, he is rather fond of Tristram, and looks after him quite well when he babysits.
- Gold Digger: Ethel is clearly only with Humphrey for his money.
- Good Parents: Jeffrey and Ann can be stern at times, but clearly love Tristram with all their hearts (even if Jeffrey doesn't seem to show it as much).
- Happily Married: Jeffrey and Ann, while they still have their disagreements, it's compared to George and Mildred.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Jeffrey is a snob, but living next to George would be genuinely ghastly.
- Lazy Husband: George seems to be allergic to work of any sort. This is only one of the many things that drives Mildred insane.
- Malicious Misnaming: Jerry is fond of referring to Mildred as "Mildew".
- Name and Name: "George and Mildred".
- New Baby Episode: "The Delivery Man", where George has to take Ann to hospital while Jeffrey is in Birmingham.
- Nouveau Riche: Ethel and Humphrey, due to Humphrey making a fortune from offal. Ethel loves to rub Mildred's nose in it.
- Porn Stash: In "Jumble Pie", Mildred gives away a box of George's old gardening magazines to the church jumble sale. George then confesses that only the top layer was gardening magazines and that the rest were porno mags. There follows a desperate attempt to retrieve the box before The Vicar looks in it.
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Happens twice in Series 2's Christmas Episode, "No Business Like Show Business".
George: I shall marry the handsome over. [Looks confused then turns the page] Prince.
- While helping Mildred learn her lines as ugly stepsister Griselda for the "Cinderella" pantomime, George reads the following out loud (in a bored monotone):
Jeffrey: [Reading from the script] I'm coming sister. I've just been making myself. [Turns the page] Beautiful. Move stage left.
- On the night, Mildred is down with flu and her replacement, George, is injured in a car accident, so Jeffrey has to go on stage as Griselda at the last minute, holding a copy of the script.
- Sexless Marriage: Continuing the thread from Man About the House, George and Mildred's marriage is devoid of intimacy. Mildred occasionally tries to get George interested, but he never reciprocates.
- Slobs Versus Snobs:
- George vs Jeffrey is the main source of conflict throughout the series.
- George vs Ethel is common as well, even if Ethel is more Nouveau Riche.
- Spinoff: Of Man About the House.
- Traffic Wardens: George got a job as a traffic warden in "Just the Job" until he resigned in "All Work and No Pay".
- Unconfessed Unemployment: George quit his job as a Traffic Warden in "All Work and No Pay", but kept going out each day dressed in the uniform so Mildred wouldn't find out. Mildred eventually found out when George's boss called up to tell her George had not returned the uniform.
- The Vicar: Reverend Stopes, who runs the jumble sale in "Jumble Pie".
- With a Foot on the Bus: Mildred wishes to emigrate to Australia in "The Last Straw", but her application is denied simply because she and George have nothing to offer.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In "Days of Beer and Rosie", George learns that a girl he had an affair with on VE Night gave birth to a boy named Bill nine months later and naturally concludes that he's the father. After meeting Bill (now a professional plumber) he learns that he's now married with a daughter and takes the first available opportunity to go round and gets to know his wife and child... and then his alleged son Bill comes in with paperwork indicating that his father's actually his mate Ernest who was there on the same night.