Porridge (70s TV Series) – About the Show

Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) and Godber (Richard Beckinsale) in a scene from Porridge (70s TV Series)Porridge is a British situation comedy that was broadcast on BBC1 from 1974 to 1977. The idea for the show came from another BBC series called Seven of One, which was aired in 1973.

Seven of One is a series of seven separate and very different comedies that the BBC hoped may serve as pilots for sitcoms. Ronnie Barker starred in all seven episodes, each of which had a runtime of about half an hour. The first two episodes of Seven of One were called Open “All Hours” and “Prisoner and Escort.” These two episodes proved to have the most potential,  so Prisoner and Escort was developed into Porridge.

The two main characters in Porridge  are Norman Stanley Fletcher (Ronine Barker) and Lenny Godber (Richard Beckinsale).

Fletcher, who is often reffered to as “Fletch” in the show, is a habitual criminal from London’s Muswell Hill. His last “job” was a botch. It earned him a five-year sentence in Slade Prison – a modern correctional facility in Cumberland.

Godber is Fletcher’s cellmate. It’s his first time in prison and Fletcher takes him under his wing and encourages him not to make the same  mistakes as  he has made with  his life.

Barker and Beckinsale were perfectly cast. The two make an impressive team and could have been born  to play Fletcher and Godber.

The rest of the Porridge cast was just as impressive. Fulton Mackay was an ideal choice for Mr Mackay and David Jason made three appearances as the wife-murderer Blanco Webb. You are excused if you did not realize this because Blanco was a very old man, and David Jason who was only in his thirties at the time had to be made up to look the part.

The first episode of Porridge was aired on 5th September 1974 and over the following three years there were a total of three series, two Christmas Specials, a film (made in 1979), and a spin off series called Going Straight (1978).

Going Straight charted Fletcher’s experiences after he was released from Slade Prison.

Porridge was and is a great series in every way possible and will always be Class TV.

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