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Encyclopedia > Porridge (TV)

Porridge is a British BBC television sitcom (19741977), written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and starring Ronnie Barker. In a 2004 BBC poll of the 50 greatest British sitcoms, it was voted number 6. It is set in the fictional "Slade Prison" in Cumberland (now Cumbria). In prison slang, porridge means a prison sentence. Corporate logo of the British Broadcasting Corporation. ... A British sitcom is a situation comedy (sitcom) produced in the United Kingdom. ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) is a common year starting on Tuesday (click on link for calendar). ... For the album by Ash, see 1977 (album). ... Dick Clement (born September 5, 1937) is an English writer. ... Ian La Frenais, born 7 January 1937 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England, is, in partnership with Dick Clement, one of the most influential television writers in Britain. ... Ronnie Barker Ronald William George Barker OBE (September 25, 1929 - October 3, 2005), popularly known as Ronnie Barker and (as a writer) Gerald Wiley , was an English comic actor and writer. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Cumbria is a county in the North West region of England. ...

Contents


History

H.M. Prison Slade (in reality the former St Albans prison)
Enlarge
H.M. Prison Slade (in reality the former St Albans prison)

Porridge originated from an idea used in a 1973 series Barker starred in called Seven of One. Each of the seven 30-minute episodes of this series saw Barker playing a different character in a different situation. Gatehouse of former St Albans Prison. ... Gatehouse of former St Albans Prison. ... St Albans (thus spelt, no apostrophe or dot) is the main urban area of the City and District of St Albans in southern Hertfordshire, England, around 22 miles (35. ... 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday. ... Open All Hours and Porridge were the two successful pilots from the Seven of One series Seven of One was a 1973 television comedy series featuring Ronnie Barker. ...


In the second episode, "Prisoner and Escort", a prisoner called Fletcher (played by Barker) was being escorted from London to Slade prison by warder Mr Barrowclough (Brian Wilde). Fletch encourages Barrowclough to spend the night in an abandoned cottage. Here, Fletch escapes and spends the night running around the moors. He eventually discovers a second abandoned cottage and hides. Fletch discovers that he is not alone in the cottage, and prepares to attack his companion. Only then does he discover that the other resident is Barrowclough, and that the cottage is indeed the same one he had set off from. Mr Barrowclough was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Brian Wilde (b. ...


A year later, when the BBC were looking for a premise for a sitcom in which Barker could star, this episode was chosen. (The first episode of Seven of One was also developed into a series: Open All Hours.) Ronnie Barker, Lynda Baron and David Jason Open All Hours was a BBC sitcom which ran for four series (26 episodes in all) between 1976 and 1985, with a pilot episode from the Seven of One series. ...


Television

Basic premise

The central character of Porridge is Norman Stanley Fletcher, described by his sentencing judge (whose voice was provided by Ronnie Barker) as "an habitual criminal". Fletch's cellmate is Lennie Godber, a naïve, frightened inmate serving his first prison sentence, whom Fletch takes under his wing. Mr Mackay is a tough warder whose bark often turns out to be worse than his bite, and with whom Fletch often comes into conflict. Mr Barrowclough is a more sympathetic, timid warder. Norman Stanley Fletcher or Fletch (born February 2, 1932) is the main character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Lennie Godber was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Mr. ... Mr Barrowclough was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ...


Eachbegins with a narration (voiced by Ronnie Barker): "Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court, and it is now my duty to pass sentence. You are an habitual criminal, who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offences -- you will go to prison for five years."


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Lukewarm was a fictional character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Christopher Biggins (born 16 December 1948 in Oldham Lancashire) is a British actor well recognised on British television. ... Blanco Webb was a character in the BBC sitcom Porridge played by David Jason. ... David Jason in A Touch of Frost. ... Bernard Ives, or Horrible Ives, as he is known by prisoners and wardens alike, was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Harris was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Ronald Lacey was born on June 18, 1935 in the suburbs of London. ... Michael Barrington (19 April 1925 - 5 June 1988) was a British actor best known for his television work. ... Ingrid Fletcher was a character in the BBC sitcom Porridge, played by Patricia Brake. ... Patrica Brake is an English TV actress who first came to attention playing Ingrid Fletcher the daughter of Norman Stanley Fletcher in the award-winning UK sitcom Porridge. ...

Episode list - Porridge

Each episode 30 minutes except where stated

  • Pilot: Prisoner and Escort April 1, 1973 (Part of Seven of One)
  • Series 1 September 5, 1974October 10, 1974
    • New Faces, Old Hands - It's Godber's first time in prison and Fletcher is going to show him the ropes.
    • The Hustler - Fletch's gambling enterprise runs into trouble at the hands of Ives and Mackay.
    • A Night In - Set entirely in Fletch and Godber's cell, this episode sees the two ponder life in prison.
    • A Day Out - Fletch, Godber, Ives and some other prisoners go out on a work party, but Fletch escapes for a pint.
    • Ways And Means - New prisoner McClaren proves troublesome, and Fletch ends up on the roof.
    • Men Without Women - Fletch fancies himself as a bit of an agony aunt and is called upon by his fellow inmates to help out, before discovering his own marriage is in trouble.
  • Series 2 October 24, 1975November 28, 1975
    • Just Desserts - Fletch is appalled when some nerk nicks his tin of pineapple chunks.
    • Heartbreak Hotel - Godber attacks another prisoner after receiving a Dear John letter from his girlfriend.
    • Disturbing the Peace - The prisoners are overjoyed when Mackay leaves on a course. Until they meet his replacement.
    • No Peace for the Wicked - Fletch's attempts to get a bit of peace and quiet are constantly interrupted.
    • Happy Release - Mackay is desperate to prove that Fletch is faking an injury to get out of work, and Blanco devises a plan for revenge.
    • The Harder They Fall - Grouty chooses Godber's boxing match to fix.
  • Special December 24, 1975 (45 minutes)
  • Special December 24, 1976 (40 minutes)
  • Series 3 February 18, 1977March 5, 1977
    • A Storm in a Teacup - Grouty recruits Fletch to solve a problem regarding some missing pills.
    • Poetic Justice - Fletch is irate to discover that his new cell-mate is the judge that sentenced him.
    • Rough Justice - A kangaroo court is set up to convict Harris for stealing the judge's watch.
    • Pardon Me - Blanco refuses parole, so Fletch sets up an appeal committee to get him pardoned.
    • A Test of Character - Fletch is determined to help Godber pass his History O-level, so he has Warren steal the papers.
    • Final Stretch - Godber is finally released on parole, but Fletch is suspicious about his daughter's holiday plans.

April 1 is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 274 days remaining. ... 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday. ... Open All Hours and Porridge were the two successful pilots from the Seven of One series Seven of One was a 1973 television comedy series featuring Ronnie Barker. ... September 5 is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years). ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) is a common year starting on Tuesday (click on link for calendar). ... October 10 is the 283rd day of the year (284th in Leap years). ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) is a common year starting on Tuesday (click on link for calendar). ... Crown stamped glass (pint to top) A pint glass is a drinking vessel holding a British pint (568ml; ≈1. ... An agony aunt is an advice columnist at a magazine or newspaper. ... October 24 is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 68 days remaining. ... 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1975 calendar). ... November 28 is the 332nd day (333rd on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1975 calendar). ... The term Dear John Letter refers to a letter written by a woman to her husband or boyfriend to inform him that their relationship is over, usually due to the woman finding another man. ... December 24 is the 358th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (359th in leap years). ... 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1975 calendar). ... December 24 is the 358th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (359th in leap years). ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) is a leap year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... February 18 is the 49th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... For the album by Ash, see 1977 (album). ... March 5 is the 64th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (65th in leap years). ... For the album by Ash, see 1977 (album). ... Look up kangaroo court on Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The General Certificate of Education or GCE was introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1951, replacing the older School Certificate (SC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC). ...

Going Straight

In 1978, a follow up series to Porridge was made, entitled Going Straight. This featured Fletch having been paroled and attempting to remain on the straight and narrow. The series also featured Richard Beckinsale returning as Godber, in a relationship with Fletch's daughter Ingrid. The series lasted six episodes, and generally was not as well received as Porridge, although Ronnie Barker maintained that, in his opinion, Going Straight was up to the standard of its predecessor. Link title 1978 (MCMLXXVIII in Roman) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1978 calendar). ... Going Straight was a BBC sitcom which emerged as a direct spin-off from Porridge, starring Ronnie Barker as prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher, newly released from the fictional Slade prison where Porridge had been set. ...


Episode List - Going Straight

  • Series 1 - 24 February - 10 April 1978
    • Going Home - Fletch, having been paroled, makes his way home from prison. On the train, he bumps into Mr Mackay and an old friend.
    • Going to be Alright - Fletch visits his probation officer and reveals his wife has left him.
    • Going Sour - Fletch is diverted from his own problems when he comes across a young punk girl and tries to set her on the straight and narrow.
    • Going to Work - Fletch is set up with a job by his probation officer as a night porter, but can't face starting his first ever job.
    • Going, Going, Gone - Fletch recognises an old fellow inmate and does his best to prevent a crime from occurring.
    • Going off the Rails - Fletch almost falls off the straight and narrow on the day Godber is to marry Ingrid, but has a change of heart before it’s too late.

February 24 is the 55th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... April 10 is the 100th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (101st in leap years). ... Link title 1978 (MCMLXXVIII in Roman) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1978 calendar). ... Punk culture as it is seen today started in the mid 1970s as a movement or rebellion against some styles of music which existed at the time such as Prog Rock and Heavy Metal whose stars were seen as out of touch with their fans. ...

Life Beyond the Box

In 2003, a spoof documentary, Life Beyond the Box, was produced detailing how Fletch's life had panned out in the 25 years since his release. Although the majority of the programme featured the surviving cast members (in character), Ronnie Barker appeared in the last minutes as Fletcher 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Documentary film is a broad category of cinematic expression united by the intent to remain factual or non-fictional. ...


Film

The last "episode" of Porridge was made in 1979 as a feature film, shot entirely on location and without an audience. All the regular sitcom warders and inmates were involved, with the exception of Lukewarm and Harris. There was also a new governor, played by Geoffrey Bayldon. This page refers to the year 1979. ... Geoffrey Bayldon Geoffrey Bayldon (born January 7, 1924 in Leeds, Yorkshire) is a British actor. ...


In the film, Fletch and Godber are forced by another inmate to escape from prison and then have to try to break back in before they're found by the police. The lack of continuity (Godber had been released in the final series episode; suddenly he was back in the same prison and in the same cell with the same cellmate again) was clearly apparent but not regarded as important.


Three one-off characters made an impact in the film. Rudge, played by Daniel Peacock, was a young, timid prisoner in the Godber mould, seen arriving for his three-year stretch for shoplifting at the beginning of the film. He came into his own when he showed his outstanding football skills during the game which led to the breakout. Oakes, played by Barrie Rutter, was the violent armed robber who arrived in the same van as Rudge and was sprung for the breakout, unwittingly taking Fletcher and Godber with him. Banyard, played by Philip Locke, was a privately-educated dentist who, according to Ives, "had a woman under the laughing gas" and was ultimately given a broken nose when he insisted on interrupting a private meeting between Grouty and Fletcher in the toilets because "I have certain rights. I'm desperate for a pee." Shoplifting (also known as retail theft) is theft of merchandise for sale in a shop, store, or other retail establishment, by an ostensible patron. ... Robbery is the crime of seizing property through violence or intimidation. ... X-rays can reveal if a person has cavities Dentistry is the practical application of knowledge of dental science (the science of placement, arrangement, function of teeth) to human beings. ... Nitrous oxide, also known as dinitrogen oxide or dinitrogen monoxide, is a chemical compound with chemical formula N2O. Under room conditions it is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a pleasant slightly sweet odor. ...


Essential Viewing for Prisoners

"Porridge" was immensely popular with British prisoners. Erwin James, a prisoner (now released) who writes a bi-weekly column for The Guardian newspaper, stated that: The Guardian is a British newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group. ...


"What fans could never know, however, unless they had been subjected to a stint of Her Majesty's Pleasure, was that the conflict between Fletcher and Officer Mackay, was about the most authentic depiction ever of the true relationship that exists between prisoners and prison officers in British jails up and down the country."


"I'm not sure how, but writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais .... grasped the notion that it is the minor victories against the naturally oppressive prison system that makes prison life bearable."


He also noted:


"When I was inside, Porridge was a staple of our TV diet. In one high-security prison a video orderly would be dispatched to tape the programme each week. If they missed it, they were in trouble."


Contributions to the English language

The script allowed the prisoners to swear without offending viewers by using the word naff. It was used in place of another well-known four-letter word, in phrases such as "Naff off!". Ronnie Barker claims he invented the word but there is evidence that he may have borrowed the word from Polari. A genuine neologism was the word nerk, which was used in place of the more offensive word berk (Cockney rhyming slang, short for "Berkshire Hunt"). Also the word scrote was used to describe a nasty, unpleasant person. Polari (or alternatively Palare, from Italian parlare, to talk) was a form of cant slang used in the gay subculture in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, although its origins can be traced back to at least the nineteenth century. ... Cockney rhyming slang (sometimes abbreviated as CRS) is a form of English slang which originated in the East End of London. ...


External links

  • 100 greatest sitcoms - Porridge
  • British Sitcom Guide
  • Phill.co.uk Comedy Guide
  • BBC Comedy Guide
  • British Film Institute Screen Online
  • Erwin James (prisoner) article on Porrige in the Guardian (reg. required)

  Results from FactBites:
 
About Porridge - The unofficial homepage of the BBC TV comedy Porridge and its sequel, Going Straight (361 words)
Porridge was a sitcom created by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and was originally broadcast on the BBC in the 1970s.
Serving time in Prison is known as "doing porridge" referring to the traditional breakfast dish commonly served in British prisons in times passed.
One unusual aspect of Porridge was the fact that there was not theme tune at the beginning.
Porridge (TV series) information - Search.com (1626 words)
Porridge is a British BBC television sitcom (1974–1977), written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and starring Ronnie Barker.
Porridge originated from an idea used in a 1973 series, in which Barker starred, called Seven of One.
The central character of Porridge is Norman Stanley Fletcher, described by his sentencing judge (whose voice was also provided by Ronnie Barker) as "an habitual criminal".
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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