One of the all time great sitcoms, Porridge had Ronnie Barker as recidivist thief Fletch sent to Slade prison for five years, he finds himself sharing a cell with young first time offender Lenny Godber and proceeds to give him the benefit of his wisdom.
The show began as an entry in Ronnie Barker’s comedy anthology of 1973 Seven of One. In the episode Prisoner and Escort (broadcast 1 April 1973) Fletch is being transported to Slade prison by “screws” Barraclough and MacKay. Written by the fantastic team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais this was considered strong enough to go to a series.
The pair had been writing a sitcom for John Thaw called Thick as Thieves but Thaw was keen instead to go into a new series called The Sweeney, otherwise Clement and La Frenais would not have had time to go with this show.
Mackay and Barraclough were both huge parts of the success of the show, Mackay, the tough take no nonsense Scottish screw and Barraclough the gentle, what am I doing here screw. Other regulars included the illiterate Bunny Warren, black Scotsman McClaren, the homosexual Lukewarm, ‘orrible Ives and later in the show the evil Harry Grout played very menacingly by Peter Vaughan. Grouty was a prisoner but basically ran the prison.Also worth mentioning were a couple of superb appearances by David Jason playing an elderly prisoner called Blanco who was in for murdering his wife (a crime he claims he didn’t commit – although he did kill her lover).
The nucleus of the show was always the relationship between the older Fletch and young Lenny with Fletch teaching Godber a few important things about life. The plots, given the prison setting, took second place to the fantastic dialogue.
Besides the three seasons there were also a pair of extended Christmas specials and a film version appeared in 1979 but the year before that there had been a Porridge sequel called Going Straight this showed Fletch and Lenny (who had begun a relationship with Fletch’s daughter Ingrid) coping with life on the outside. On 28 August 2016 the BBC broadcast a brand new episode of Porridge as part of their sitcom season celebrating 60 years of classic comedy. This saw Fletch’s grandson Nigel sent to Slade for cybercrime. Clement and La Frenais also wrote the episode.
“Norman Stanley Fletcher you are an habitual criminal” …
UK / BBC-1 / 18×30 minute episodes and 2×40 minute episodes / Broadcast 5 September 1974 – 25 March 1977 3 seasons + 2 specials
Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais / Music: Max Harris / Producer: Sydney Lotterby
RONNIE BARKER as Norman Stanley Fletcher
RICHARD BECKINSALE as Lennie Godber
FULTON MACKAY as Mr Mackay
BRIAN WILDE as Mr Barraclough
SAM KELLY as Warren
TONY OSOBA as McClaren
KEN JONES as Ives
DAVID JASON as Blanco
MICHAEL BARRINGTON as Mr Venables
PETER VAUGHAN as Harry Grout
CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS as Lukewarm
and this just in
Fargo (1995, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi)
‘The Coens have never achieved such balance in their work before, have never been able to so coherently harness and...
U-Turn (1997, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte)
In U-Turn Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is stranded after his car dies in the desert and he heads for the...
Gift Horse, The (1952, Trevor Howard, Richard Attenborough)
Described by The News of the World as ‘a great and stirring British war film’, The Gift Horse follows a...
Way Ahead, The (1944, David Niven, Stanley Holloway)
Classic British war film The Way Ahead was inspired by the 40-minute army training film The New Lot directed in...
Gunman’s Walk (1958, Van Heflin, Tab Hunter)
Gunman’s Walk is a superior western family saga starring Van Heflin. The ageing star puts in a rock-hard performance as...
How to Get Away with Murder: Your Funeral (Season 5 Premiere ABC 27 Sep 2018)
Your Funeral: In the season five premiere episode, “Your Funeral,” Annalise selects students for her new legal clinic at Middleton...
How to Get Away with Murder: Whose Blood Is That? (S5EP2 4 Oct 2018)
Whose Blood Is That?: Annalise preps to defend her first class action plaintiff and adjusts to the politics of the...
Grey’s Anatomy: With a Wonder and a Wild Desire, Broken Together (Season 15 Premiere ABC 27 Sep 2018)
With a Wonder and a Wild Desire and Broken Together: Two-hour season premiere and a new position is up for...
This Happy Breed (1944, Robert Newton, John Mills)
Taken from Noel Coward’s popular and charming stage play of the same name, This Happy Breed looks at the way...
Dead Of Night (Ealing 1945, Michael Redgrave, Mervyn Johns)
Dead Of Night is Ealing’s classic portmanteau horror film whose separate stories were linked by a central framing story. It...
Captains of the Clouds (Warner 1942, James Cagney, Dennis Morgan)
Captains of the Clouds was made in the same year as two of the director’s most famous movies, Yankee Doodle...