When Fiona Gallagher's bag is snatched during a night out, a handsome stranger called Steve comes to her rescue. she takes him back to her home in Chatsworth, a rough council estate in Manchester. There, he meets her large family, the Gallaghers. As the pair begin to grow close, things take a turn for the worst when the police come calling regarding Fiona's alcoholic father, Frank. Meanwhile, Lip makes a shocking discovery about his brother Ian that tears their brotherly relationship apart, whilst Karen Jackson's father finally leaves home after catching her in a compromising position.
When Karen's father attacks Frank in the pub, he goes home and attacks his son Ian and Fiona's boyfriend Steve. Siick of Frank's mistreatment of his kids, Steve gets him drunk and dumps him in France without telling anyone. Whilst Frank runs into trouble with the French authorities, a body is found in the canal and the Gallaghers fear the worst. Will Frank make it back to Chatsworth? and what will this mean for Fiona and Steve? Meanwhile, Karen's mother Sheila finds a new man.
Kev tells a gang of women he is getting married to fend of their advances. Unfortunately, Frank overhears and drunkenly announces it to the entire pub - and Veronica's mother Carol. Kev proposes to Veronica and they and the Gallaghers plan a wedding on the cheap. But Kev is hiding a big secret: he is already married, and to make matters worse, Veronica's arsonist brother Marty has escaped from prison. Meanwhile, Ian rejects the sexual advances of Mandy Maguire and she tells her family, the toughest family on the estate, that he forced himself on her. With her brothers after his blood, Ian decides to run from his troubles.
When Debbie takes a young boy from his birthday party, his parents think he has been abducted and Chatsworth goes into meltdown. With Frank's help, the residents turn into a lynch mob. Fiona, Steve and the Gallagher boys must return the child and cover up Debbie's involvement. But with police around every corner, it's not going to be easy. Meanwhile, Karen tries to seduce her mother's boyfriend.
Frank and Karen have embarked on an affair, even though Frank is dating Karen's mother and she is dating Lip. Things spiral out of control when Steve rumbles the affair and Karen dumps Lip. All becomes clear and a deadly confrontation between father and son ensures. Meanwhile, Yvonne, Kash's wife, discovers her husband is having an affair with Ian. But the two men are shocked by her reaction, whilst Fiona fears the Gallagher kids will be taken into care when a home visit is requested by the school.
Frank's past catches up with him when he is hounded by two Baliffs. As usual, his family is forced to pay the price, and if that wasn't enough, a housing officer with a score to settle is threatening to take the family home. However, Frank is more concerned with tracking down his ex-wife Monica, sparking off a chain of events that tears the Gallagher family apart. Meanwhile, Tony, the local copper, has fallen in love with Fiona and tries to lure her away from Steve.
Monica is ruling the roost at the Gallagher household after Fiona moves in with Steve. But none of the Gallagher kids are welcoming towards their mother. Frank is desperate to see his ex-wife. But first, he must deal with his growing debts, Monica's lesbian lover Norma and the threat of homelessness for his entire family. Meanwhile, A vengeful Tony enlists PC Stan Waterman's help to bring down Steve after uncovering his long list of car thefts. Elsewhere, Shelia tries to overcome her agrophobia whilst harbouring a life-changing secret.