DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION
'Scrimshaw Travel is allowed to make last minute amendments to your trip without incurring any penalties, or reducing the price of your holiday in any way, as stated in the small print of the brochure, which no one ever reads.'
That's what Shauna, the acerbic courier tells Derek Noble on day one of the so-called luxury coach holiday he's booked himself onto, when she arrives on a clapped-out coach with a driver at the wheel who Derek believes might be partially-sighted.
After an eventful journey down to rural Tenhamshire, Derek and his fellow passengers arrive at a rather rundown guest house, owned by the neurotic Mrs Goddard whose staff need either some happy pills, a leg-over, or directions to the nearest retirement home.
Thank God for Angela, the only member of the group preventing Derek from making a run for home. She makes the holiday bearable as they move from one humorously, ill-fated excursion to another across the week.
But perhaps there's more to the other colourful characters on this trip than meets the eye. Amid such events as a boat tour with a pornographic commentary, a ferocious board game evening, and the group's eviction from an amusement arcade, secrets and stories are revealed and Derek soon realises that, life for him after this coach trip, will never be the same again.
After the death of her go-getting sister, Diana Carlton feels life has passed her by. Surprisingly it's neighbour, single-mum Lou Turner who comes up with a solution. The two women have never got along but, as Diana creates a bucket list with a difference, it's Lou she turns to for help to cross the items off it.
Rather than a number of adrenalin-filled events, Diana wants her list to make permanent changes to her life. For Lou the items seem a little pedestrian but she starts gaining more from them than Diana, who suffers a wardrobe malfunction at exercise class, and misunderstands a baking recipe that says 'chill for twenty minutes,' getting her magazine confiscated. But their differences still bubble beneath the surface and threaten to erupt, particularly when Diana starts dating a man who fits in with her old life.
Other residents of Ryan Harbour are also exploring new experiences. While landlord, Jamie Taylor tries out some low cost events to attract customers to his ailing pub, Robert Keane tempts his wife into some sexual experimentation. Then there's Dr Bryant and his infatuation with his new locum. Could an affair be on the cards?
From flashing a group of pensioners, losing a pair of undies to a dog wanting to play fetch during some alfresco love-making, onto being responsible for the extinction of an entire species, these new ventures aren't turning out as planned, but with friendships blossoming there's everything to gain.
It's two years since Derek and Angela met on a coach holiday to Tenhamshire in Driven to Distraction. Now they've decided to start a new life together in the county where they fell in love. Unfortunately they're not doing it alone.
Inviting Derek's mum, Ursula to the county was one thing, having her move into their new home while searching for a place is quite another. Angela's petty thief father, Bert then turns up unannounced. The two start spending their days together, Derek fearing Ursula has become a getaway driver.
Another passenger on that eventful coach trip, Margaret is also enjoying a fresh start in the county, running an exclusive retirement home where her mother, Dora runs amok. operating a secret death sweepstake and slipping syrup of figs into the gravy. As the gardener, Derek often finds himself caught up in her schemes while tending the grounds and training up his accident-prone assistant, who unfortunately doesn't know his Allium from his Erisymum.
But can new lives be successful when the old ones still have secrets? How far will Angela go to prevent her past being revealed when someone from it turns up to expose her? Why does Dora pass out upon seeing a new resident? Why is Ursula jumpy about Derek's dad's death? Why is Derek visiting his ex-wife, Leanne? The past is still haunting the newest residents of Tenhamshire. Old sins cast long shadows.
A five-year-old girl disappears with a mentally-disabled man, never to be seen again. It's obvious he abducted her, just as it's obvious they must both be dead, their remains lost somewhere in the marshes surrounding the remote, Essex village where they both lived.
But it's not obvious to Pippa Golding. She has information, knowledge of lies told at the time. She doesn't know why certain people lied nor how far those untruths went in aiding two people to disappear, but she intends to find out.
Why now? It's been forty years after all, but Pippa has her own reasons for wanting people to remember. There's truth out there amongst the hearsay and gossip. It just needs those involved to face up to the past and reflect on what really happened that day.
But it won't be easy. There are more secrets than even Pippa can imagine and opening up old wounds won't necessarily get to the truth, but Pippa is determined to try.
THICKER THAN WATER
Abigail Adams is shocked when she discovers a man looking for her late mother is claiming to be her son. Surely it must be a mistake, but what does she really know about Mary's life from before she was born. Where did she come from? What happened to the rest of her family?
When Abi and Stephen meet he drops another bombshell that leaves his new-found sister reeling. Together they try to uncover the truth about his birth so that Stephen can gain closure and Abi can mourn the mother who is starting to become a stranger to her.
Back in the mid-sixties a young Mary Adams is living in a male-dominated world with only her disagreeable Aunt Peg and her assertive friend, Moira for female company. At least she has her boyfriend, Roddy to make her happy, despite what others say about him. But then Mary finds herself pregnant and her whole world implodes. Betrayed by the men in her life she has to turn to her scathing aunt for help.
As the present begins to reveal the past so Abi and Stephen start to fear they perhaps should have left well enough alone, but how can they stop looking for answers now. The truth must be out there, but will it bring brother and sister closer together, or will it drive them apart?