In late-'80s Britain, Porterhouse College Cambridge is an anachronism, its students uniformly male and (in the vast number of cases) privately educated. When the incumbent Master dies (from a stroke brought on by overeating) the government revenges itself on Porterhouse by appointing as his successor an old graduate, the politician Sir Godber Evans. One of the tiny minority of state-school students the college has had forced on it over the years, Evans returns to his alma mater determined to drag this bastion of privilege into the twentieth century. The elderly academic staff cease their bickering and close ranks against him, but the new Master finds his most implacable and unscrupulous opponent in Skullion, the college porter.
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