About Porridge

Porridge was a sitcom created by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and was originally broadcast on the BBC in the 1970s. It centered on the lives of the inmates of Slade Prison in the wilds of Cumbria (or Cumberland as it was known then). The central character was Norman Stanley Fletcher aka Fletch played brilliantly by Ronnie Barker.  Although only in four of the seven episodes of the first season the other main character was Lennie Godber who spent most of the series as Fletch's cell-mate.  Godber was played by the late great Richard Beckinsale.

The show spawned a sequel, Going Straight, in 1978 following Fletch and Godber's lives after they left prison.  Although this series was slightly disappointing for even the most ardent of fans, it still retained some hilarious comic moments.

In late 1978, an opportunity arose due to the redecoration of Chelmsford Prison situated in Essex in England.  As there were no inmates at this time the crew were able to shoot a brilliant film entirely on location adding authenticity to the brilliant writing and performing.

Why Porridge?

Porridge gained its title from British slang.  Serving time in Prison is known as "doing porridge" referring to the traditional breakfast dish commonly served in British prisons in times passed.

One unusual aspect of Porridge was the fact that there was no theme tune at the beginning.  Instead you hear the judge sentencing Fletch with the judge ironically also played by Ronnie Barker!

Here is a full transcript of the phrase:

"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.

"I therefore feel constrained to sentence you to the maximum term allowed for these offences.  You will go to Prison for five years."

Porridge | The Unofficial Homepage of the BBC Sitcom and its sequel, Going Straight