A rags to riches story following the adventures of a back-street barber and his new and ambitious apprentice.
London, at the end of the 18th century, is a stinking, fetid place where social pretension and ridiculous fashion disguise an appalling lack of morality and personal hygiene. The King, George 111, is mad and his son, the Prince of Wales, drinker and womaniser will soon be married off to his first cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, famous for wanton behaviour, body odour and infrequent changes of undergarments. Dr. Johnson is as well known for his monstrous farts as his Dictionary. Pustulant carbuncles, suppurating sores and the pox are the norm. It is a time of laudanum, opium and Fanny Hill when rich and poor alike are subjected to depravity and disease.
A mysterious and driverless horse-drawn carriage thunders through the misty countryside of an English dawn. Inside the carriage is Francis Wentworth, and on his lap lies the blood stained dead body of a beautiful English courtesan. Francis is wounded and near to death and just manages to raise an arm displaying a bloodied hand with three fingers missing. Looking straight to camera he introduces himself as The Hairdresser's Apprentice, and begins to narrate how he came to be in this terrible and hopeless situation...
The story itself offers a reflection of our own times. The laudanum and opium may have been replaced by more modern drugs, the vanity may be expressed in cosmetic surgery instead of insupportable coiffures, the diseases may be different, but the social and sexual perversions, the lust for status and the disaffection of the underprivileged for the fops and the fools who set themselves up as the ruling elite remain largely unchanged.