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Encyclopedia > Porterhouse Blue


About the book

Porterhouse Blue is a novel written by Tom Sharpe, first published in 1974. A satirical look at Oxbridge life and the struggle between tradition and reform, it tells the story of Skullion, the head porter of a fictional Cambridge college, Porterhouse. There is a sequel, Grantchester Grind, but Porterhouse Blue is complete in itself. The name is probably inspired by Peterhouse, though the described location fits better with Clare. Tom Sharpe (born March 30, 1928) is an English satirical author, born in London and educated at Lancing College and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... Oxbridge is a portmanteau name for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the two oldest in the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world. ... The majority of colleges of the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Durham have members of staff called Porters. ... Fictional colleges are perennially popular in modern novels, allowing the author much greater license when describing the more intimate activities of a Cambridge college. ... The University of Cambridge, located in Cambridge, England, is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... Porterhouse Blue book cover. ... Grantchester Grind is a novel written by Tom Sharpe, a British novelist born in 1923 who was educated at Lancing College and then at Pembroke College, Cambridge. ... Full name Peterhouse Motto - Named after St Peter Previous names The Scholars of the Bishop of Ely St Peter’s College Established 1284 Sister College(s) Merton College Master The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn Location Trumpington Street Undergraduates 253 Postgraduates 125 Homepage Boatclub The chapel cloisters, through which Old Court... Full name Clare College Motto - Named after Elizabeth de Clare Previous names University Hall (1326), Clare Hall (1338), Clare College (1856) Established 1326 Sister College(s) Oriel College St Hughs College Master Prof. ...


Cover of Porterhouse Blue Book
Cover of Porterhouse Blue Book

For the first time in five hundred years, the master of Porterhouse fails to name his successor before dying. He succumbs to a Porterhouse Blue - a stroke brought about by the over indulgence in the college's legendary cuisine. The college visitor, the Queen, takes the Prime Minister's advice in appointing Sir Godber Evans as his successor. Sir Godber, having been egged on by his zealous wife, Lady Mary, announces sweeping changes to the centuries of college tradition, much to the concern of Skullion and the Fellows, who plan a counter attack to the proposed contraceptive machines, women students, and a canteen. Image File history File links Porterhouse_Blue_Book. ... Image File history File links Porterhouse_Blue_Book. ... A stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly interrupted by occlusion (an ischemic stroke- approximately 90% of strokes), by hemorrhage (a hemorrhagic stroke - less than 10% of strokes) or other causes. ... A cuisine (from French cuisine, meaning cooking; culinary art; kitchen; itself from Latin coquina, meaning the same; itself from the Latin verb coquere, meaning to cook) is a specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a place of origin. ... A fellow in the broadest sense is someone who is an equal or a comrade. ... Counterattack is a military science term for a type of attack by defending force against an enemy attacking force. ...

Meanwhile, the only research graduate student in the college, Zipser, visits the hard of hearing Chaplain and explains his fixation for Mrs Biggs, his middle-aged big breasted bedder, through a megaphone, which is heard by anyone and everyone within distance. While not happening to overhear this, Mrs. Biggs senses something is up on her own due to Zipser's akward behavior around her everytime she comes to clean his room and especially when she teases him sexually (the climax of which is when she asks him to help her take off her bright red pvc raincoat from behind, which prompts him to reach over with his hands to her front side - and - at least in the #TV mini-series - slightly over her big breasts). A chaplain is typically a member of the clergy serving a group of people who are not organized as a mission or church; lay chaplains are also found in some settings such as universities. ... A megaphone, with a three-inch lighter to scale. ...

While Sir Godber congratulates himself on having the traditionalists over a barrel, investigative journalist Cornelius Carrington is brought in on the pretext of helping both parties, while secretly having his own agenda. Investigative journalism is a kind of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a topic of interest, often related to crime, scandals, government corruption, or white collar crime. ...

Meanwhile, having been advised to pick up a foreign student, so as to avoid his predatory lust to Mrs. Biggs that could end up badly, Zipser visits an array of public houses in search of a condom and later wakes from his stupor in possession of two gross of condoms. He tries many ways to get rid of them and eventually inflates them with gas from the gas fire in his room and floats them up the chimney, not realising that some get stuck in the chimney and the rest float down into the college court. Fearing for the good name of college, Skullion spends the night bursting the inflated condoms. For notes on some individual UK pubs, see Notable United Kingdom public houses. ... A 67 m long condom on the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, Argentina, part of an awareness campaign for the 2005 World AIDS Day A condom is a device, usually made of latex, or more recently polyurethane, that is used during sexual intercourse. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... A gas is one of the four major phases of matter (after solid and liquid, and followed by plasma, that subsequently appear as a solid material is subjected to increasingly higher temperatures. ... A chimney is a system for venting hot gases and smoke from a boiler, stove, furnace or fireplace to the outside atmosphere. ... quadrangle is a good name for a mathlete team. ...

At this point it turns out it is Mrs Biggs who is the predator, as she sneaks up to Zipser's room in the middle of the night and wakes him up. By the time he realizes she's in his room in the middle of the night, to his great shock she undresses without saying much and promptly enters his bed against his protests and lies on top of him. Unfortunately, while undressing she lit the gas fire which takes a short while to ignite the inflated condoms stuck in the chimey, causing an explosion that demolishes the Founder's Tower and kills Zipser and Mrs Biggs in the moment of passion.

When Skullion refuses to open the main gates of college to let the fire engines in and continues to burst the inflated condoms, he is fired. He plans to take his revenge by making a shocking reveal-all appearance on Carrington's live television show and partially succeeds. After the new master refuses Skullion's pleas to let him keep his job, Skullion offers shares a former master left him, Sir Godber refuses him flat out and has a fatal accident, Skullion, not being entirely responsible quickly leaves. Two senior academics find the dying Sir Godber who whispers them one word...Skullion, they agree that, in accordance with college tradition, Skullion has been named the new Master of Porterhouse. A fire apparatus, fire engine or fire truck usually refers to a vehicle designed to fight fires. ... Live television refers to television broadcasts of events or performances on a delay of between zero and fifteen seconds, rather than from video recordings or film. ... Academic organizations typically have a rather rigid set of ranks. ... The word tradition, comes from the Latin word traditio which means to hand down or to hand over. ...

When Skullion is visited by the college officals with the good news, he thinks they have found out his involvement with Sir Godber's death and whilst they are telling him about his great fortune, he has a debilitating Porterhouse Blue himself. None the less, he is installed as the Master and the college find that the shares he'd offered to Sir Godber are worth more than the cost of rebuilding the Founder's Tower, so Porterhouse's traditions are firmly re-established.


  • ISBN 0-87113-279-6 isbndb entry Hardback
  • ISBN 0-436-45802-0 isbndb entry Hardback
  • ISBN 0-330-24667-4 isbndb entry Paperback


TV mini-series

Cover of DVD release
Cover of DVD release

In 1987, Porterhouse Blue was adapted for television by Malcolm Bradbury for Channel 4 in four episodes. It starred David Jason as Skullion, Ian Richardson as Sir Godber Evans, Charles Gray as Sir Cathcart D'Eath, and John Sessions as Zipser. Also appearing were Griff Rhys Jones as Cornelius Carrington, Paula Jacobs as Mrs. Biggs, Paul Rogers as the Dean, John Woodnutt as the Senior Tutor, Lockwood West as the Chaplain, and Harold Innocent as the Bursar. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1258x1740, 363 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1258x1740, 363 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Sir Malcolm Stanley Bradbury (September 7, 1932 – November 27, 2000) was a British author and academic. ... Channel 4 is a public-service television broadcaster in the United Kingdom (see British television). ... David Jason in A Touch of Frost. ... Ian William Richardson CBE (born April 7, 1934) is a Scottish actor best known for playing the Machiavellian politician Francis Urquhart in the House of Cards trilogy for the BBC. The series was shown on Masterpiece Theatre in the U.S., where he is also familiar to television viewers as... Charles Gray (August 29, 1928 - March 7, 2000) was a British actor, born in Bournemouth, Dorset. ... John Sessions (born January 11, 1953 in Largs, North Ayrshire) is a gay Scottish actor best known for his comedy work in improvisation shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway?. A gifted impressionist, he worked on Spitting Image and later the surreal celeb soap opera Stella Street. ... Griff Rhys Jones on Not The Nine OClock News Griff Rhys Jones (born 16 November 1953) is a British writer and actor. ... Paul Rogers, born 22 March 1917 in Plympton, Devon is a distinguished English actor. ... John Woodnutt (3 March 1924 – 3 January 2006) was a British actor. ... Harold Innocent (18 April 1935 - 12 September 1993) was a British actor who has appeared in many film and television roles. ...

The title song "Dives in Omnia" ("There's Money in Everything") was sung by a cappella group The Flying Pickets.

The television adaptation has been released on DVD and VHS: IMDb reference A cappella music is vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. ... The Flying Pickets are an a cappella vocal group that had a hit with a cover of Yazoos Only You. The group was formed in 1982 by a group of actors, the 7:84 Theatre group, a fringe theatre group who had sung a capella in their production of... DVD (sometimes called Digital Versatile Disc, or Digital Video Disc) is an optical disc storage media format that can be used for data storage, including movies with high video and sound quality. ... Top view of VHS cassette with U.S. 25c coin for scale Bottom view of VHS cassette with magnetic tape exposed Top view of VHS cassette with front casing removed The Video Home System, better known by its abbreviation VHS, is a recording and playing standard for analog video cassette...

Comparison to the book

The TV mini-series softened up some scenes by leaving the inner thoughts of the characters, which were often mentioned in the book, to the viewers' imaginations.

In particular, a major twist is lost in the sub plot with the bedder. The book actually mentioned the word "rape" as the main thing Zisper feared of doing if he doesn't make his lust go away. Later on, the bedder sneaks up into his room, wakes him up and undresses without saying much. When Zipser realizes it's the middle of the night and that she undresses, the thought of his secret fantasy coming true in real life is too shocking for him and he begs her to leave. At this point in the book, when she doesn't even answer to his protests and just keeps undressing, he actually considers screaming for help, but then he realizes no one would believe him he's the victim...of a rape apparently, judging by the way the book describes him giving up hope and just cowering in his bed in the darkness, before the book and TV mini-series join paths and she finishes undressing, enters his bed and lies on top of him - and in the book, reaches out for his genitalia to engage in an intercourse (although it could be argued by the way he quietly mumbled two times her formal name ("Mrs. Biggs...") after she lied on top of him, that it was the The TV mini-series' own way of, first of all, hinting there was an intercourse and secondly, showing it was against his will).

The ironic twist is that it is Zipser who finds himself getting raped by the bedder who he so feared to rape himself. We never learn how it would have turned out because it doesn't take long for the room to explode because of the chimney (while undressing, the bedder lit the gas fire, as between sneaking up uninvited to Zipser's room, waking him up, undressing and entering his bed against his protests and lying on top of him and engaging in an intercourse, she never had the chance to learn the chimney was blocked with gas filled condoms. Thus indirectly her actions also caused death to Zipser and to herself).

Audio books

There have also been two audio book versions;

  • 1992 Porterhouse Blue, read by David Jason, published by HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-104635-7
  • 1993 Porterhouse Blue: Complete & Unabridged (Word for Word Audio Books)', read by Griff Rhys Jones, published by BBC Audio and Chivers. ISBN 0-7451-2817-3

Collins was a Scottish printing company founded by a Presbyterian schoolmaster, William Collins, in Glasgow in 1819, in partnership with Charles Chalmers, the younger brother of Thomas Chalmers, minister of Tron Church, Glasgow. ... Griff Rhys Jones on Not The Nine OClock News Griff Rhys Jones (born 16 November 1953) is a British writer and actor. ... The British Broadcasting Corporation, invariably known as the BBC (and also informally known as the Beeb or Auntie) is the largest broadcasting corporation in the world, employing 26,000 staff in the UK alone and with a budget of £4 billion. ...

External links

  • Fantastic Fiction - for a fuller publication and ISBN listing.

  Results from FactBites:
Porterhouse Blue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (764 words)
Porterhouse Blue is a novel written by Tom Sharpe, first published in 1974.
He succumbs to a Porterhouse Blue - a stroke brought about by the over indulgence in the college's legendary cuisine.
Porterhouse Blue was adapted for television by Malcolm Bradbury for Channel 4 in four episodes.
  More results at FactBites »



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