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'Porridge' was one of a whole raft of outstanding BBC situation comedies from the 1970s. With writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, producer Sydney Lotterby, and starring Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Fulton Mackay, and Brian Wilde, and a superb supporting cast, including a young David Jason playing an old lag, 'Porridge' could hardly fail.

Barker's Norman Stanley Fletcher, popularly known as 'Fletch', was one of the great comedy creations. Fletch was an avuncular figure, who tried to keep his young cellmate Lennie Godber (Beckinsale) on the straight and narrow. Fletch was a wily old cove, who always tried to keep one step ahead of the ever suspicious Mr Mackay (Fulton Mackay), and easily had the gullible, innocent Mr Barrowclough (Brian Wilde) in his pocket.

Set at the H.M. Prison Slade, with its foreboding edifice, 'Porridge' came out of a half hour comedy play, 'Prisoner And Escort', which was one of seven half hour comedy plays, all starring Ronnie Barker, in 1973. 'Open All Hours' also came out of one of these plays.

The first-ever episode of 'Porridge' was screened by the BBC on September 5th, 1974, and was last screened (repeats apart!) on March 5th, 1977. Though there was the 1978 spin-off, 'Going Straight', which featured a very young Nicholas Lyndhurst as Fletch's son. The 1979 feature film was also one of the best examples of British sitcoms working in an expanded format. 1979 also saw the untimely death of Richard Beckinsale, and any future 'Porridge' projects died with him.

- Paul Rance/

Porridge Regular Cast List (actors listed first)
Ronnie Barker
Norman Stanley Fletcher
Fulton Mackay
Mr. Mackay
Richard Beckinsale
Lennie Godber
Brian Wilde
Mr. Barrowclough
Peter Vaughan
Harry Grout
Sam Kelly
'Bunny' Warren
Tony Osoba
Jim MacClaren
Christopher Biggins
David Jason
Ken Jones
Brian Glover
Ronald Lacey
Michael Barrington
The Governor
Felix Bowness
'Gay' Gordon
Patricia Brake
Ingrid Fletcher

Porridge DVDs available from - in association with

'Porridge - The Movie DVD' Porridge [1979] ~ Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale
'Porridge- The Complete - Series 1-3 & The Christmas Specials DVD' Porridge- The Complete - Series 1-3 & The Christmas Specials [1979] ~ Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale

'Going Straight DVD'
Going Straight - The Complete Series
BBC Worldwide Publishing
DVD - October 4, 2004

Porridge/Going Straight Episode List

Porridge, Series 1
September 5th-October 10th, 1974

New Faces, Old Hands
The Hustler
A Night In
A Day Out
Ways And Means
Men Without Women

Porridge, Series 2
October 24th-November 28th, 1975

Just Desserts
Heartbreak Hotel
Disturbing The Peace
No Peace For The Wicked
Happy Release
The Harder They Fall

Porridge, Series 3
February 18th-March 5th, 1977

A Storm In A Teacup
Poetic Justice
Rough Justice
Pardon Me
A Test Of Character
Final Stretch

Going Straight, Series 1
February 24th-10th April, 1978

Going Home
Going To Be Alright
Going Sour
Going To Work
Going, Going, Gone
Going Off The Rails

More Porridge Transmission Details
Number of episodes: 21
Length: 19 x 30 mins; 1 x 45 mins; 1 x 40 mins
Pilot: Prisoner And Escort 1st April, 1973 - BBC2 Sunday, 8.15pm
Series One - BBC1 Thursdays, 8.30pm
Series Two - BBC1 Fridays, 8.30pm
Special (45 mins) 24th December, 1975 - BBC1 Wednesday, 8.25pm
Special (40 mins) 24th December, 1976 - BBC1 Friday, 8pm
Series Three - BBC1 Fridays, 8.30pm

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