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Encyclopedia > Porridge (TV series)
Porridge

Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher
Format Comedy
Created by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Starring Ronnie Barker
Richard Beckinsale
Fulton Mackay
Brian Wilde
Sam Kelly
Tony Osoba
Michael Barrington
Country of origin Flag of the United KingdomUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes 20 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 minutes per episode
Broadcast
Original channel BBC-1
Original run 1 April 1973 (Pilot), 5 September 19745 March 1977
Chronology
Related shows Going Straight

Porridge was a British BBC television sitcom (19741977), written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and starring Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale. In a 2004 BBC poll of the 50 greatest British sitcoms, it was voted number 6. It is set in the fictional "HMP Slade" in Cumberland (now Cumbria). "Doing porridge" is British slang for a spell of imprisonment, as porridge was once a traditional breakfast in UK prisons. It was followed by the sequel series, Going Straight. Image File history File links Normanstanleyfletcher. ... Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005), popularly known as Ronnie Barker was an English comic actor and writer. ... A comedy is a dramatic performance of a light and amusing character, usually with a happy conclusion to its plot. ... 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. ... Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005), popularly known as Ronnie Barker was an English comic actor and writer. ... Richard Beckinsale (6 July 1947 – 19 March 1979) was an English actor who is most famous for his role as Lennie Godber in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Fulton Mackay (August 12, 1922 - June 6, 1987) was a Scottish actor. ... Brian Wilde as prison warden Mr Barrowclough Brian Wilde (b. ... Sam Kelly (born in Manchester, England, December 19, 1943) is a British actor. ... Tony Osoba is a black Scottish actor, born in Glasgow, Scotland. ... Michael Barrington (19 April 1925 - 5 June 1988) was a British actor best known for his television work. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... Porridge was a British BBC television sitcom (1974–1977), written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and starring Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale. ... BBC One (or BBC1 as it was formerly styled) is the oldest United Kingdom, and indeed, the world. ... is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the song by James Blunt, see 1973 (song). ... is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the day. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... 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. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... A British sitcom is a situation comedy (sitcom) produced in the United Kingdom. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... 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. ... Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005), popularly known as Ronnie Barker was an English comic actor and writer. ... Richard Beckinsale (6 July 1947 – 19 March 1979) was an English actor who is most famous for his role as Lennie Godber in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Cumbria (IPA: ), is a shire county in the extreme North West of England. ... 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. ...

Contents

History

Porridge originated from an idea used in a 1973 series, in which Barker starred, called Seven of One. Each of its seven 30-minute episodes saw him playing a new character in a different setting. For the song by James Blunt, see 1973 (song). ... Seven of One was a 1973 television comedy series featuring Ronnie Barker. ...


In the second instalment, "Prisoner and Escort", a prisoner, Norman Stanley Fletcher (played by Barker), was being escorted from London to Slade Prison by two warders: the easy-going Mr Barrowclough (Brian Wilde) and the stern Mr Mackay (Fulton Mackay). Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by Ronnie Barker Norman Stanley Fletch Fletcher (born February 2, 1932) is the main character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Brian Wilde as prison warden Mr Barrowclough Mr Barrowclough was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Brian Wilde as prison warden Mr Barrowclough Brian Wilde (b. ... Mr. ... Fulton Mackay (August 12, 1922 - June 6, 1987) was a Scottish actor. ...


After a long train journey, Fletch asks to relieve himself at the tiny station where the prison minibus is waiting to take them to the prison. He relieves himself into the petrol tank, and when the van stops in the middle of the moors, Mackay strides off to the prison for help. 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 empty property and hides within it. Fletch finds that he is not alone, and prepares to attack his companion. Only then does it become obvious that the other resident is Barrowclough, and that the cottage is indeed the same one from which he had set off. Back at the prison, Mackay tells Fletch that the petrol tank was fuller than when last checked, and that it was 'definitely not 5-star'. Thus started the humorous conflict between Mackay and Fletch.


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 Seven of One programme was also developed into a series: Open All Hours.) Open All Hours was a BBC sitcom written by Roy Clarke which ran for four series (26 episodes in all) between 1976 and 1985, with a pilot episode from the Seven of One series in 1973. ...


Television

Basic premise

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

The central character of Porridge is Norman Stanley Fletcher, described by his sentencing judge as "an habitual criminal". Fletch's cellmate is Lennie Godber, a naïve 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. Mackay's subordinate, Mr Barrowclough, is more sympathetic and timid — and therefore prone to manipulation by his charges. Gatehouse of former St Albans Prison. ... Gatehouse of former St Albans Prison. ... , St Albans is the main urban area of the City and District of St Albans in southern Hertfordshire, England, around 22 miles (35km) north of central London. ... Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by Ronnie Barker Norman Stanley Fletch Fletcher (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. ... Brian Wilde as prison warden Mr Barrowclough Mr Barrowclough was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ...


Each episode begins with a narration by the judge (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."

The prison exterior shown in the title sequence (and some episodes) is that of Maidstone Prison, which was also featured in the BBC comedy series Birds of a Feather. In the episode "Pardon Me" Fletcher speaks to Blanco in the prison gardens: this sequence was filmed in the grounds of an old brewery just outside Baldock on the A505 to Royston. The barred windows closely approximated a prison. This property has since been demolished. Birds Of A Feather is the second track on Phishs 1998 album The Story of the Ghost. ...


Cast

Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by Ronnie Barker Norman Stanley Fletch Fletcher (born February 2, 1932) is the main character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005), popularly known as Ronnie Barker was an English comic actor and writer. ... Mr. ... Fulton Mackay (August 12, 1922 - June 6, 1987) was a Scottish actor. ... Lennie Godber was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Richard Beckinsale (6 July 1947 – 19 March 1979) was an English actor who is most famous for his role as Lennie Godber in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Brian Wilde as prison warden Mr Barrowclough Mr Barrowclough was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Brian Wilde as prison warden Mr Barrowclough Brian Wilde (b. ... Genial Harry Grout, or Grouty, as he is often referred to (though never to his face), was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Peter Vaughan (born April 4, 1923) is an English character actor, known for many supporting roles in a variety of British film and television productions. ... Bunny Warren was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Sam Kelly (born in Manchester, England, December 19, 1943) is a British actor. ... Jim McClaren was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge played by Tony Osoba. ... Tony Osoba is a black Scottish actor, born in Glasgow, Scotland. ... Lukewarm may refer to Lukewarm (temperature) 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. ... Sir David John White, OBE known by his stage name David Jason (born 2 February 1940) is a highly regarded English actor, admired equally for his dramatic work as for his comedy roles. ... Bernard Ives, or Horrible Ives, as he is known by prisoners and wardens alike, was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Ken Jones (born February 20, 1930) is an English actor. ... Harris was a character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge. ... Ronald Lacey (June 18, 1935 - May 15, 1991) was born 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. ... The Honourable Mr Justice Stephen Rawley, played by Maurice Denham, is featured in two episodes of the television series Porridge: Poetic Justice and Rough Justice. He had been charged with fraud and was waiting for his appeal to come through. ... Maurice Denham (born as William Maurice Denham on December 23, 1909 at Beckenham, Kent; died July 24, 2002) was an English character actor who appeared in over 100 television programmes and films throughout his long career. ... Brian Glover (April 2, 1934 - July 24, 1997) was a British actor. ... Dudley Sutton (born April 6, 1933 in Surrey, England) is a British actor. ... Philip Madoc (born 5 July 1934 in Merthyr Tydfil) is a Welsh actor who has had many television and film roles. ...

Episode list

Each episode 30 minutes except where stated.

Fulton Mackay as Mr Mackay
  • Pilot
  • Series 1 5 September 197410 October 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 24 October 197528 November 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 24 December 1975 (45 minutes): "No Way Out"
  • Special 24 December 1976 (40 minutes)
  • Series 3 18 February 19775 March 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.

Image File history File links Mrmackay. ... Image File history File links Mrmackay. ... Fulton Mackay (August 12, 1922 - June 6, 1987) was a Scottish actor. ... is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the song by James Blunt, see 1973 (song). ... Seven of One was a 1973 television comedy series featuring Ronnie Barker. ... is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... is the 283rd day of the year (284th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... 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. ... is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 332nd day of the year (333rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1976 Pick up sticks(MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 49th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... This article is about the day. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The General Certificate of Education or GCE is a secondary-level academic qualification, which is used in Britain as well as in some former British colonies. ...

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. It 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 its predecessor. Following the death of Beckinsale, Ronnie Barker decided not to proceed with a second series though the first series did win a BAFTA in March 1979. Year 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1978 Gregorian 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. ...


Life Beyond the Box

In 2003, a spoof documentary, Life Beyond the Box, was produced. It detailed how Fletch's life had panned out in the 25 years since his release. The majority of the programme featured the surviving cast members, in character, with Ronnie Barker featuring in the last few minutes as Fletcher. Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Documentary film is a broad category of visual expression that is based on the attempt, in one fashion or another, to document reality. ...


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. Also: 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins. ... 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. Because Godber had been released in the final series episode, and yet was back in the same prison and in the same cell with the same cellmate again, the film fits into the original run of the show, and not after.


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. Beal, played by Christopher Godwin, was a new prison officer who subscribed to the firm approach to the job, but proved easy to manipulate into recommending a celebrity football match. Daniel Peacock is a British actor, writer and director best known for his work with the team of The Comic Strip Presents. ... For the band Shoplifting see Shoplifting (band). ... Barrie Rutter founded the Northern Broadsides theatre company in 1992. ... Robbery is the crime of seizing property through violence or intimidation. ... Christopher Godwin (born 5 August 1943 in Loughborough, Leicestershire, England) is a British actor who has been active since the late 1960s. ...


See also

  • List of films based on British sitcoms

This is a list of British television sitcoms that have been adapted into cinema films, either during their original television run or afterwards. ...

Essential viewing for prisoners

Porridge was immensely popular with British prisoners. Erwin James, an ex-prisoner who writes a bi-weekly column for The Guardian newspaper, stated that: For other uses, see Guardian. ...

"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" in place of ruder words ("Naff off!", "Darn your own naffing socks", "Doing next to naff all"), thereby popularising a word that had been recorded at least as early as 1966.[1] Ronnie Barker did not claim to have invented it, and in a television interview in 2003 it was explained to him on camera what the word meant, as he hadn't a clue.


Later, Red Dwarf was inspired by this fake-swearing to make up its own futuristic (and often repeated) expletive, "Smeg!" The TV show Friends also incorporated this notion of swearing-by-not-swearing with Ross's hand signals as substitutions for giving his parents the finger as a teenager. For the type of star, see Red dwarf. ... Smeg may refer to: Smeg (appliances), an Italian appliance company Smeg (vulgarism), a pseudo swear word used in the TV cult space sitcom Red Dwarf Smeg (computer viruses), a computer virus construction kit SMEG (menu editor), a menu editor for the GNOME desktop SMEG (slang), refering to a mans semen... For friendship, see friendship. ... Map of Scotland showing the historic district of Ross Ross (Ros in Scottish Gaelic) is a region of Scotland and a former mormaerdom, earldom, sheriffdom and county. ...


A genuine neologism was "nerk", which was used in place of the more offensive "berk" (Cockney rhyming slang, short for "Berkeley Hunt"). Another term was "scrote" (presumably derived from scrotum), meaning a nasty, unpleasant person. A neologism is a word, term, or phrase which has been recently created (or coined), often to apply to new concepts, to synthesize pre-existing concepts, or to make older terminology sound more contemporary. ... Cockney rhyming slang is a form of English slang which originated in the East End of London. ... Hunt Country The county lies in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire, between Gloucester and Bristol. ... In some male mammals, the scrotum is a protuberance of skin and muscle containing the testicles. ...


Novelisations

Novelisations of the three series of Porridge were issued by BBC Books, as well as an adaptation of Going Straight.


References

  1. ^ naff. a, Oxford English Dictionary, Draft Revision June 2003

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
  • BBC Comedy Guide
  • 100 Greatest Sitcoms: Porridge
  • Porridge at IMDb
  • British Film Institute Screen Online
  • Porridge: The Unofficial Homepage
  • British Sitcom Guide
  • Porridge at www.phill.co.uk
  • Erwin James (prisoner) article on Porridge in The Guardian (reg. required)

 
 

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