Porridge Episode Guide
Prisoner And Escort (Originally Transmitted 1 Apr 1973)
It's New Year's Eve and Norman Stanley Fletcher has been sentenced to prison for five years for stealing a lorry full of booze. He is being escorted from Brixton Prison in London to Slade Prison in the wilds of the Cumbria fells. He is escorted by Mackay and Barrowclough. Just before the journey from the train station to Slade begins Fletch tops up the petrol tank during a call of nature. The van inevitably breaks down enroute and he sees his opportunity to escape. He is thwarted after going round in circles and ending up back in the hands of Mr Barrowclough and is finally taken to Slade Prison, setting the scene for the following episodes.
As this episode was aired a full 17 months before the first series, it is never counted as being part of the first series. Sadly this means that this episode is hard to find on video. Even the so-called Porridge Complete box set excludes it. Strangely but thankfully it does appear as an extra on the second series DVD.
New Faces, Old Hands (Originally Transmitted 5 Sep 1974)
Norman Stanley Fletcher, Leonard Arthur Godber and Cyril Heslop are all being processed on their first day inside Slade Prison on New year's Day. Despite Fletch's hilarious attempts to use his experience of prison to make his stay easier, he ends up being put in a cell with Cyril Heslop ("I read a book once, Green it was!") and Evans who eats electric lightbulbs in an attempt to force the authorities to take him out of prison and into a psychiatric hospital. Not only that but he is given a job on the farm which the Governer thinks is a privilege for Fletch.
The Hustler (Originally Transmitted 12 Sep 1974)
Fletch has the last laugh, however, as he has bet the whole landing he will be in a single cell by Sunday and that is just the "punishment" the officers have come up with.
A Night In (Originally Transmitted 19 Sep 1974)
Godber is moved into Fletch's cell as a "temporary" resident. This is one of the best episodes. Almost entirely consisting of dialogue between Fletch and Godber throughout the episode. Whilst remaining an hilarious episode, you get to see the human side of Fletcher and Godber during their "Night In".
Godber finds it tough each time the door closes. Fletch, despite his cynical exterior shows a soft side to his nature and teaches Godber the importance of keeping your own private world in your imagination.
A Day Out (Originally Transmitted 26 Sep 1974)
A sewer trench needs digging near the prison and Fletch and Godber are on the party enlisted to work there. They look forward to their day out, fantasising about district nurses only to be a tad disappointed. Mackay gets into trouble when he takes a senior officer to the site believing they have all "scarpered".
Ways And Means (Originally Transmitted 3 Oct 1974)
This episode and the following one appear to have been transmitted out of sequence. Fletcher is in a single cell and Godber features in neither episode. The dialogue at the beginning naturally follows on from "The Hustler". The plot involves Fletcher and McLaren scheming their way back into the Governor's "good books" by staging McLaren's roof top protest that Fletcher heroically solves. His descent is not so heroic though! See the clips page.
Men Without Women (Originally Transmitted 10 Oct 1974)
Fletch offers his services to his fellow fellons by drafting a letter to their respective spouses to remind them not to stray while they are inside. Meanwhile Fletch has hatched a plot to make everyone believe his own wife has strayed in order to con the authorities into giving him some compassionate leave.
Just Desserts (Originally Transmitted 24 Oct 1975)
A new series and we're back on track with the timeline and one of my favourite episodes. Fletch has had some tinned pineapples ("soaked in a heavy syrup from the sun kissed shores of 'onna bleedin' lulu") stolen and is determined to catch the thief. Godber unwittingly gets Fletch into trouble when he attempts to replace them as a thank you.
Heartbreak Hotel (Originally Transmitted 31 Oct 1975)
Disturbing The Peace (Originally Transmitted 7 Nov 1975)
Everyone thinks Mackay is leaving and his replacement is an old adversary of Fletch's, one Napper Wainwright. The cons stage a riot in order to humiliate him and at the same time bring back Mr Barrowclough. Mackay, however, returns after his unexplained trip away.
Happy Release (Originally Transmitted 14 Nov 1975)
Fletcher is enjoying a stay in hospital but has to stay in the ward with the unpleasant Norris. Norris is due to be released and Fletch cons him into buying a treasure map with the possessions he took off old lag Blanco Webb. Norris hilariously finds himself digging for treasure in the middle of Leeds United's football pitch.
The Harder They Fall (Originally Transmitted 21 Nov 1975)
Godber is training for a boxing match representing his wing. Grouty has asked Fletch to fix the fight by asking Godber to take a dive. Unfortunately Godber has already agreed to do this for a rival of Grouty's. Fletch comes out on top by betting on a draw because he knew neither of them wanted to win.
No Peace For The Wicked (Originally Transmitted 28 Nov 1975)
It's Saturday afternoon and everyone is supposed to be wrapped up in their respective activities. Fletch wants to take advantage of this and have a nice quiet afternoon in his cell on hos own. His plans are thwarted by a hilarious succession of cons disturbing him. Fletch's patience is tested to the limit but he goes too far when the prison chaplain pays him a visit. Ironically, the punishment served on him is just what he wanted. Solitary confinement!
The Christmas Specials
No Way Out (Originally Transmitted Christmas Eve 1975)
Fletch fakes pain from an old knee injury to wangle Christmas in the prison hospital. The Doctor is not going to allow him into the hospital unless he has a full check up and x-ray at the local civilian hospital. Fletch is then enlisted to assist in smuggling a blank passport to aid the never seen Tommy Slocombe's escape. In one of Porridge's classic scenes Fletch tries to drop Mackay in it but in the process wins himself the stay in hospital he was looking for all along.
The Desparate Hours (Originally Transmitted Christmas Eve 1976)
Fletch and Godber are caught brewing illicit drink and are put before the Governor. They become hostages of Urwin with a U with Fletch ending up as the hero of the hour. Revelations about Henry Barrowclough are made during this episode as well regarding the Governor's secretary.
A Storm In A Teacup (Originally Transmitted 18 Feb 1977)
Once again Fletch is trying to get some peace and quiet but his attempts are futile. Particularly when some drugs go missing and Grouty thinks that Fletch has them. On Grouty's orders Fletch has to find some replacement ones quickly so goes to Harris who was the cause of all the upset in the first place. What Fletch doesn't realise is that he had them all the time.
Poetic Justice (Originally Transmitted 25 Feb 1977)
Well not many prisoners expect to see this happen during their stay. Fletch's new cell mate is none other than the judge who sentenced him to stay in Slade. Fletch does end up protecting him, however, when the other cons gang up on him.
Rough Justice (Originally Transmitted 4 Mar 1977)
The judge loses a watch and a kangaroo court is set up to convict Harris who is known for "this despicable kind of thievery". Once found not guilty Harris then agrees to give up the booty. Meanwhile, the judge is released on bail pending his appeal.
Pardon Me (Originally Transmitted 11 Mar 1977)
Old man Blanco has been released on parole but rejects it to protest his innocence in the murder of his wife. Fletch and his fellow fellons form an appeal committee to win Blanco a pardon from the home office. They eventually win this only to find that Blanco admits he didn't kill his wife but he did kill his wife's lover.
A Test Of Character (Originally Transmitted 18 Mar 1977)
Final Stretch (Originally Transmitted 25 Mar 1977)
Finally Godber is released on Parole and Fletch is going to miss him. Although he is worried about the subtle hints Godber is throwing out about Fletch's daughter. Godber almost loses his parole in an uncharacteristic fit of temper but Fletch selflessly comes to the rescue and Godber is free to leave. A very funny and enjoyable end to the three series of Porridge.
Going Home (Originally Transmitted 24 February 1978)
Fletch has now reached the end of his stay in Prison and says his goodbyes to McLaren. On the train journey home Fletch bumps into Mackay and an old friend. His old friend makes an early attempt to tempt him from the straight and narrow but it's Mackay who almost commits a crime.
Going To Be Alright (Originally Transmitted 3 March 1978)
Fletch visits his probation officer and reveals that his wife, Isobel, has left him for someone called Reg Jessop who owns a cardboard box factory. Fletch doesn't seem too concerned about getting a job and the reason is a legacy from a previous crime which he attempts to dig up by stealing Godber's lorry and driving off to the site where the loot was buried. He is out of luck, however, when he discovers a housing development has been built on the field.
Going Sour (Originally Transmitted 10 March 1978)
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 (Originally Transmitted 17 March 1978)
Going, Going, Gone (Originally Transmitted 31 March 1978)
Still working as a night porter in a small hotel, Fletch recognises an old fellow inmate and suspects fowl play and does his best to prevent a crime occurring.
Going Off the Rails (Originally Transmitted 7 April 1978)
Fletch is almost tempted off the straight and narrow on the day Ingrid is to marry Godber. He has a change of heart before it's too late but almost gets into trouble with a walkie talkie. Godber married Ingrid with Fletch giving away the bride and acting as best man.
Porridge - the Movie
Harry Grout has been hired to help a prisoner (Oakes) escape. Fletch and Godber stumble upon the escape and get taken out of Slade by Oakes. Fletch persuades Oakes to let them go and they have to break in. Not much of a plot is it? Well if you haven't seen this film don't let the weak plot put you off. There are plenty of hilarious moments (although a couple of scenes are borrowed from episodes from the series). Sadly, Richard Beckinsale died within weeks of the filming being completed. His performance is superb and is a fitting end to an excellent but cruelly curtailed career.
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