A drama series set during the height of the Vietnam War, YouCan't See Round Corners revolves around Frankie McCoy, a lonely, somewhat aggressive non-conformist who has spent all his life living in the inner-city suburb of Newtown. As the series progresses, McCoy is called up for National Service and although he initially fulfils his duty, he later deserts and heads back home to hide with friends. Other main characters include his girlfriend Margie and enemy Terry Howlett, the twenty-year-old leader of a small gang of thugs.
The television adaptation was contemporised by producer John Walters and screenwriter Richard Lane. Cleary's original novel is set in the Sydney suburb of Paddington during World War II. After deciding to bring the temporal setting forward to the (then) current Vietnam era, they also had to change the physical setting. Although Paddington had been a working-class suburb in the 1940s, the demographic had changed considerably by the 1960s. Newtown was subsequently considered the most appropriate location for a narrative set in a working-class suburb. Richard Lane records in Take One (1972) that he and Walters also deliberately introduced other contemporary issues into the narrative, notably the inclusion of the Greek community, which by the late 1960s had had an enormous impact on the Newtown district (p. 52).