The action takes place in the late 1970s in the home of television "aunty" Barbara Love in Chelsea on Christmas Eve. Barbara arrives home from work to prepare for the Christmas Eve party she traditionally throws for her colleagues to find some unexpected and rather unpleasant surprises. Looking through the post she finds letters from her newsagent saying they'll cancel her papers from tomorrow, from the G.P.O saying they'll cut of her phone tomorrow too, from a printing firm confirming an order for stationery with a black border, and a leaflet from a tombstone supplier. All say "as she requested", but of course, she did no such thing. Things turn more threatening when she opens an anonymous Christmas present to find a miniature coffin containing a doll dressed in an exact miniature of one of her own dresses and strangled with a stocking. Barbara thinks it's all a sick joke, until a sinister message on her answer- phone in an electronically distorted voice threatens to kill her and saying that her or she will be attending her party later.
Naturally, Barbara phones the police, and soon Superintendent Moore is on the scene to investigate. He advises Barbara not to cancel the party, volunteering to stay, posiong as an old friend of hers, to help apprehend the would-be assassin, to which she nervously agrees.
As the guests begin to arrive both Barbara and Moore wonder which of the guests could be "the one". All of them have reasons for wanting her out of the way. Some have secrets they've confided in "Aunty Barbara" and all of them are bound to her by their TV contracts.
Could it be her efficient secretary Connie Bell, who has moved up to presenting a small slot on their highly successful TV show, but is prevented from rising further by Barbara herself? Or Jack Campbell-Barnes, her producer, an ex-army major, who wants to re-negotiate his contract with her? Or divorced Paul Reston, the show's director, a dark, neurotic, possessive man, who once had a fling with Barbara, and now is jealous of any male friends she has? Or Don Lewis, the show's, sharp-tongued writer, who is married to a black actress in "Hair" and has a passion for a lethal combination of gin and fast cars? Or Ray Lacey the company's camp, flamboyant and bitchy make-up man?
Then an unexpected visitor arrives in the shape of a young photographer David Ogden from the TV company's publicity department. He claims to have received a message telling him to get over to Barbara's immediately for a photo-shoot. However, a self-proclaimed fan of Barbara's, he seems to know every detail about her, and there is something strangely familiar about him.
Only one of those present has murder in mind - but who? How long will it be before the murderer will strike? Will Superintendent Moore be able to intervene, save Barbara's life, and apprehend the villain?