Doing Time and Loving It

Nothing dentured, nothing gained - Fletcher

Ronnie Barker in Porridge (1979)

It's business as usual in Slade prison with Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) doing a good job of winding up the guards especially Mackay (Fulton Mackay) with his satirical singing. But Fletcher and cell mate Lennie (Richard Beckinsale) find themselves ordered by Grouty (Peter Vaughan) to organize a prison football team to take part against some celebrities totally unaware that the match is part of a diversion for a prison escape. When Fletcher and Lennie get caught up in the escape they have to break back in to the prison in order to avoid trouble.

I never watched "Porridge" as a child, I was either too young, it was on too late or my parents inflicted something else on us on the only TV set in the house. But "Porridge" was once of those iconic series that even if you didn't watch it you knew what it was about, who the characters were and what to expect when it came to the comedy. It means that even if you never watched the series you can still watch the "Porridge" movie from 1979 as it delivers all those things that the series was famous for and that means laughs.

Peter Vaughan in Porridge (1979)

What that means is we have inmate Grouty running the nick whilst Fletcher wheels and deals his way around the place winding up Mackay with various smart Alec remarks. And all of this runs thick and fast thanks to the writing of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais as well as the consistently perfect delivery of Ronnie Barker. Whilst it is fair to say that the movie wouldn't be the same with out the likes of Peter Vaughan, Brian Wilde and Richard Beckinsale it couldn't work without Ronnie Barker and not just because as Fletcher he is central to everything but because no one had his timing and way with words.

Of course "Porridge" the movie needed more than just the usual prison antics and so Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais give us Fletcher and Lennie trying to break back in to Slade after being caught up in a prison escape. The decision to take Fletcher and Lennie outside of the prison could have been a huge mistake but the writing and the characters and of course the acting so strong that it still delivers all the expected laughs.

What this all boils down to is that if you were a fan of "Porridge" the series you are going to enjoy "Porridge" the movie and you will probably still enjoy it even if you have never seen it as the characters, the writing and the acting is all first rate making it a rare movie spin-off of a TV Show which works as a standalone movie.

Tags: British TV Shows & Their Movies

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