Set against the backdrop of Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II, the play depicts a single mother's struggles as welfare cuts affect the poor and disabled. The derogatory term 'spongers' is used by British tabloid press to describe people who are dependent on welfare support, however the play presents the case of a family who really need the help of welfare support. The title sequence shows the title of the play, 'The Spongers', superimposed over a picture of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, denoting them as 'the real spongers' as Royal finances are paid by British taxpayers.
A country family of five takes in cousin Julia, whose parents recently perished in a car crash. Julia extends her influence over the family and those around them, fooling all except for Rachel, the teenaged girl who knows her cousin is up to no good.
Spoofing the entire 1940s detective genre, and his own performances as a bumbling private detective, Peter Falk plays Lou Pekinpaugh, a San Francisco private detective accused of murdering his partner at the instigation of his mistress, the partner's wife, Georgia Merkle.