It's the 1980s. Thatcher's Downing Street, champagne is the drink du jour, it is the hour of the entrepreneur.
Wilf Wellingborough is not really the man for the moment. Pleasant, friendly, puzzled by life and by love, he's astonished when Jimmy Spalding, whom he's known since childhood, gives him the job of editing Arts Unlimited, a magazine with no circulation to speak of but with enormous prestige.
The story of seven friends from Oxford and their adventures in the world of the media in the 1980s, Smashing People is written with a wickedly funny eye for the absurdities of journalism and publishing and a profound wisdom about the ways of the human heart.