This comedy was inspired by the true story of Cynthia Payne, a former waitress who gained fame as England's best-known (and best-liked) madame. Christine Painter (Julie Walters) is a working-class single mother who sub-leases a few inexpensive flats as a way of bringing in extra money. Christine has no particular interest in selling her body, but when she finds herself in a tight spot financially -- and notices that the prostitutes who rent her apartments are the only ones who consistently pay on time -- she decides to open a brothel. With the help of Shirley (Shirley Stelfox), an experienced prostie, and Morton (Alec McCowen), a former RAF commander with a fondness for women's undergarments, Christine opens a little place where elderly businessmen can indulge their fondness for kinky lingerie and being spanked by younger women. Soon Christine's business is booming and everyone is happy -- until the police pay her a visit. Personal Services was directed by Terry Jones, best known as a member of the Monty Python troupe; the real-life Cynthia Payne served as a technical advisor.
by Mark Deming synopsis