Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale and Fulton Mackay star in this superior spin-off feature from the much-loved TV sitcom Porridge. Cell-mates Fletch and Godber find themselves on the wrong side of the bars when they’re inadvertently bungled out of Slade Prison during someone else’s escape. Somehow they’ve got to break back in before warder Mackay notices their absence.
The words ‘sitcom spin-off’ should raise alarm bells, but the Porridge movie is free of the biggest affliction of a drab genre. It is actually funny. That’s largely down to the script by original series writers Dick Clement (who also directed the film) and Ian La Frenais (who produced). But the fondly remembered cast do their bit, particularly Mackay as Fletch’s bristling nemesis and Barker, now recognised as one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy actors.
Fans of the TV show will be surprised to see that the film is shot on location at a real jail. The series always had to make do with studio sets, but when Chelmsford Prison was damaged by fire, the government allowed the filmmakers to use the building while it was being refurbished.
This was the last performance by lovely Richard Beckinsale (Godber). He died of a heart attack on 19th March 1979, a few weeks after the production was completed. He was 31.
UK / 1979
Director: Dick Clement
Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Cast: Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Fulton Mackay, Brian Wilde, Peter Vaughan, Barrie Rutter, Julian Holloway, Geoffrey Bayldon, Sam Kelly, Daniel Peacock, Christopher Godwin