User Reviews (22)

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  • Bulldog730 September 2002
    Very funny. I have been watching this since I was a child (early 90s reruns) and it makes me laugh every time. this has to be ronnie barkers best outing (which tells you something). richard beckinsale is great and went too soon. Wilde and Mackay are perfect in their roles and the 'backup cast' like McLaren and Ives really polish it off to leave it the perfect specimen of British comedy along with Only Fools and Horses and the Blackadder collection.
  • Ecnerwal3 January 2002
    This is easily the funniest comedy ever made.The characters are very strong - Mackay the harsh scottish guard with his neck 'twitch', Barrowclough the well-meaning and gullible guard, bumbling around pathetically, Godber the innocent and naive prisoner, and of course Norman Stanley Fletcher. Ronnie Barker's acting is superb - his expressions and timing are perfect.

    The script by Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais is one of the wittiest and sharpest ever written. For example:

    (A prison inspector has just entered Fletcher's cell, and Fletcher has just made spoken to him.) Inspector: He's very articulate Mackay: Yes, like a lorry
  • I'm not going to go on about why this is the greatest sitcom ever and what are the funniest lines ever; its up to whoever is reading this to go discover that for themselves and encourage you to do so.

    I do want to comment on how this is a sitcom with exceptional timing of both visual gags and one liners, some so blatant that they are funny because you can't belive they stuck them in!

    Possibly the best aspect of this programme though was the humanity.

    Fletcher might sometimes seem heartless towards godber, but it is all about surviving a harsh environment intact. For evidence about this watch the episode "a night in" which revolves around godbers first night in prison. The episode takes place in their cell and never really features anyone but the two principle characters. But this is still one of the funniest episodes of any sitcom anytime, containing a few throw-away one liners, but mainly the episode is about the subtle humour of how to survive in stir and not forget the outside.

    Ronnie Barker is possibly the greatest comic actor of all time, who provides perfect comic timing on every joke, but you will always believe that fletcher is real and you can see the emotion pouring out of every episode of porridge.

    Richard Beckinsale as godber was the perfect foil for fletcher and again his timing was immaculate for the restraint on the delivery of his lines. He always held his own with ronnie and will always be fondly remebered by so many for this role after he died so young.

    The two principles were also supported so well by other characters in the prison who came from all spectrums of life (well male life, sorry ladies)

    One of the most interesting features was that they represented the two opposites of attitude from the prison guards. Mackay was load, coarse and brutal, but you could always see that underneath he was a man trying to do his job to the best of his ability. Mr Baraclough is more interesting as a "screw" who just wants to help the prisioners and be their friends whilst trying to not to hurt either side. Some people found him unbelievable; but i actually know a guy who had to leave his job as prison guard as he identified more with the inmates than the guards he was supposed to work with!

    To be honest i don't care if anyone else has this as their favourite programme; it is mine and if i have persuaded just one person to go watch and love this as much as i do then i will be satisfied.
  • This is one of the very best comedies ever. The stars are Ronnie Barker and Fulton Mackay but there is a very strong supporting cast It is repeated all the time on UK Gold but I enjoy watching it still, even when you know the jokes are coming. My favourite....Mr Mckay " There are only 2 rules in this prison 1. Do not write on the walls 2. Obey all the rules.
  • LiamABC21 January 2004
    I've seen some great sitcoms in my time - and some not so great. But this is definitely one of the great ones. The very idea of a comedy set in prison doesn't sound like it can work. But it does - and how!

    Ronnie Barker is perfect as Fletch. He's nobody's fool, and doesn't suffer other people who are fools, but underneath is a heart of pure gold - he just doesn't show it very often. This is to his credit when it is displayed, for Godber (Richard Beckinsale) or Blanco (David Jason). As with everything, Barker's timing is superb, and the simplest little line can have the viewer in stitches. This man will always be the guv'nor!

    Richard Beckinsale as the first-offender Lennie Godber is just as wonderful. He takes it at a slower pace, highlighting the contrast between the two characters. A gentler man for the role it is hard to envisage. And who would want to!

    Not forgetting Fulton Mackay (Mr Mackay) and Brian Wilde (Mr Barrowclough) - similarly fast and slow-paced. There is never any doubt that Mackay is an authority figure over them, and can make their lives hell if he chooses to, whereas the long-suffering Barrowclough is the perfect foil, like Sgt Wilson to Cpt Mainwaring.

    This is of course due first to the wonderful writing of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, whose names grace the credits of many wonderful shows. They have created a masterpiece. A wonderful with believable characters. Everything fits together perfectly. Not one line needs changing.

    Great cast, great writers. 12/10! The best sitcom ever!
  • One of the UK's greatest sitcom's,PORRIDGE has perpetually been repeated in innumerable re-runs on British TV since it's debut in the 1970's,and issued on Video and DVD to always eternal delight and acclaim,and deservedly so.The superb scripts by Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais contained possibly the cleverest plots,funniest dialogue and most vivid characterisations ever witnessed in any sitcom arguably both in the UK and US.It is very doubtful whether or not any comedy series has possessed such an outstanding cast,even in relatively minor roles;Peter Vaughan both funny and menacing as Harry Grout;Sam Kelly as the illiterate Warren;Christopher Biggins as the gay Lukewarm;Tony Osoba as the Scottish black orphan McLaren;Ken Jones as the sneaky scouse thief Ives;David Jason as the elderly Blanco;Michael Barrington as the ineffectual governor Venables;Brian Wilde as the gentle-mannered prison warder Barrowclough;Fulton Mackay as his harder,but not totally unlikable superior Mackay,and the brilliant Richard Beckinsale (who died so tragically young) as the naive Brummie Godber.Above all these very distinguished princes was a peerlessly outstanding king:Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher.It is the ultimate tribute that Barker was always unselfish in letting other talented performers get laughs in PORRIDGE,but his unending brilliance in the lead role of 'Fletch' was vital to the series' enduring appeal,which is still evident to this day.The premise of the series (the day to day existence in a prison) was perhaps not natural-sounding comic material,and indeed the show had sometimes a serious and thoughtful side to it amongst the innumerable laughs,which it handled with equal skill and intelligence.

    Thanks to the immense talents involved,PORRIDGE will always be one of Britains most fondly regarded sitcoms/TV programmes.Ronnie Barker apparently thought PORRIDGE the pinnacle of his dazzling comic career,and that is truly saying something.Shows like this,THE TWO RONNIES and OPEN ALL HOURS ensure he will never be forgotten.
  • The 1970's was a great time for British comedy. A lot of the most loved and popular stuff came out here like Steptoe and Son,Dads Army and Monty Pythons Flying Circus. However the one show that comes to mind the instant classic comedy is mentioned is Porridge.

    Porridge is simply one of the most quotable and funny pieces of media I have ever watched. It is packed with wit and many jokes referring to 1970's pop culture (Even Kid shows like Magic Roundabout and politics get mentioned). It stands the test of time very well and has lovable characters like Warren and Mr Mackay. And watch out for the 1976 Christmas Special which is easily the best Christmas special I've ever seen.

    Shows like Porridge demonstrate why British Humor was the best. I say was because British comedy has fallen hard since 1997 and rarely have there been anything good.

    10/10. A masterpiece
  • Dodger-91 March 2000
    Easily one of the best sitcoms of all time with Ronnie Barker never better as the inmate Norman Stanley Fletcher, cocky inmate of Slade prison.

    Richard Beckinsale was also superb as the wet-behind-the-ears Birmingham cook and Fulton McKay priceless as draconian Scots warder MacKay.

    Each script by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais was a gem and the series became a firm favourite with Sean Connery who re-used one of the gags in Never Say Never Again.

    (007 has to give a urine sample and is stood across the room) Doctor: I'd like a sample.

    Bond: From here?

    Barker's version is arguably a lot funnier.

    Good support came from David Jason, Peter Vaughan and Brian Wilde and the big screen version (released in the States as Doing Time) was also a hoot.
  • This show is definately one of the top ten best sitcoms in Britain and maybe even in the world. Ronnie Barkers best piece of comedy ever. One of the best points about it is the originality and imagination put into the idea of it being set in a prison. Not many 70's sitcoms do very well but this along with Fawlty Towers are exceptions of that decade. Highly recommended to anyone with a decent sense of humour. I just wish we had things like this now instead of "The office" and "Office Gossip", both of which can make a coffee-addicted insomniac fall asleep. Watch this show whenever its on. Best quote:

    Mckay: Where's (can't remember name)?

    Fletcher: Oh hes outside desecrating holy ground.

    Mckay: He's what?

    Fletcher: He's having a slash in a church yard.
  • This show is without a doubt one of the funniest comedies ever made and it easily passes the test of time because the jokes do not date. The funniest line has to be this sequence between McKay (the head guard) and Fletcher. McKay: "Just don't let me catch you cheating" Fletcher: "I won't" McKay: "You won't what?" Fletcher: "I won't let you catch me!"
  • I do like sit-coms in general. Some are great, some are good with hit and miss moments and some are lacking. Porridge is for me one of the great ones. It has everything a great comedy series should have and more, and it never ceases to entertain me. The stories are well written with a touch of humanity about them, while the writing is superb. Some of it is very sharp and always hilarious. The series is nicely filmed too, and the acting is first class. And of course I love the characters, Fletcher especially is a wonderful character, naughty yet there is something charming about him. And who better to play him than the late great Ronnie Barker. He is perfection in the role, the delivery of the lines, the comic timing and the priceless facial expressions are just brilliant. Richard Beckinsale is also suitably earnest, and I love Brian Wilde too as Barrowclough. So all in all, wonderful, really one of the best comedy series there is. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • beresfordjd23 February 2006
    This is a stellar sitcom par excellence!! The late Barker was never better and was more than ably supported by a brilliant cast of supporting actors. Worthy of special mention is the late, great Richard Beckinsale and Fulton Mackay also sadly deceased. Clement and LeFrenais have rarely been bettered as writers and the quality never drops over 3 series. I don't know whether America ever saw this but it rates alongside the best of their best.I love American series like Frasier, Friends, King of Queens and Ellen but Porridge is the best to come out of Britain - only "Only Fools and Horses" comes close. How sad that so many of the wonderful cast are now no longer with us. Ronnie Barker was/is the best comic actor I have ever seen, with timing so immaculate that the jokes make me roar even when I know what's coming. That , dear readers, is real talent and great writing. USA viewers should beg, borrow or steal the DVDs for joyful consumption.
  • I have always been a massive fan of Ronnie Barker, but Porridge, like so many people including himself, agree that Porridge was special and unique. Turning an un-funny situation into a sitcom where EVERY episode was a no disappointment. The funniest sitcom Britain has ever produced for television.

    As well as Ronnie Barker's magnificent performance as Fletcher, there's also the sadly short lived Richard Beckinsale who plays Lennie Godber splendidly, a magnificent Mr Mackay portrayed by Fulton Mackay and Mr Barrowclough, played perfectly by Brian Wilde.

    The episode, "A Night In", was definitely unique for being one of the few sitcoms to set an entire episode in just one scene with limited characters and this case, it was set in a very small cell with only two people and a prison officer (who pops in and pops out and the beginning and towards the end of the episode).

    Surprised that it only came 7th in the BBC pool, Britain's Best Sitcom, true Only Fools and Horses is a classic comedy also, but it has been repeated countlessly which is why it is hard to ever forget it whereas Porridge I have hardly seen been repeated on either BBC1 or BBC2.

    However, thank god for the DVD collection and the brilliant people who have downloaded the episodes on YouTube.

    A fantastic cast and fantastic crew behind a fantastic sitcom!!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For a sitcom, 'Porridge' was a brave move. After all, a prison setting is not one in which you would expect to find laughs. However, as it turned out, 'Porridge' has had more than its fair share of that. Quite simply, it is an absolute gem of a show.

    'Porridge' first started as an episode of Ronnie Barker's seven part pilot series 'Seven Of One' entitled 'Prisoner & Escort', broadcast on April 1st, 1973, written by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais and starring alongside Barker Fulton MacKay as obnoxious Principal officer McKay and Brian Wilde as kindly prison officer Barrowclough. 'Prisoner & Escort' featured Barker as Cockney criminal Norman Stanley Fletcher, who is sentenced to five years imprisonment at Slade Prison for theft. The pilot was so successful that it was later turned into a series, with the title being changed to 'Porridge'. Both Fulton MacKay and Brian Wilde returned to their posts. Richard Beckinsale was brought in to play Fletcher's naive cell mate Lennie Godber. Beckinsale gelled with Barker. In the first episode, 'New Faces, Old Hands', Fletcher showed Godber the ropes regarding prison survival. Over the course of the three series, Fletcher became a father figure to the lad.

    Other regular characters included the effeminate prison chef Lukewarm ( Christoper Biggins ), Scots born West Indian McLaren ( Tony Osaba ), slimy 'Orrible Ives ( Ken Jones from 'The Squirrels' ) and dim-witted Warren ( the late Sam Kelly ). Michael Barrington made occasional appearances as prison Governor Mr. Venables, as did sexy Patricia Brake as Fletcher's busty daughter Ingrid.

    My favourite episodes included 'A Storm In A Teacup' in which Fletcher tries to replace drugs that have gone missing from the Medical Officer's room. In 'No Peace For The Wicked', Fletcher finds it impossible to get peace and quiet from his fellow inmates, 'Men Without Women' saw Fletcher try to help out his inmates with their marital problems but the best one of all was 'Just Desserts' in which a tin of pineapple chunks goes missing from Fletcher's cell. Clement and La Frenais had wrote sitcom before in the '60's with 'The Likely Lads' but here their talent really shines through. Ronnie was born to play hardened lag Fletcher. Richard Beckinsale made a brilliant sidekick for Fletcher. When Beckinsale died of a heart attack in 1979, aged only 31, the country was shocked. Max Harris supplied the show's bouncy theme tune.

    In 1978, a short lived sequel was made - 'Going Straight' - which saw Fletcher try to adapt to life on the outside again after being released from prison. Although gaining respectable viewing figures, many found it hard to take to Fletcher no longer behind bars and after one series was brought to an end. In 1979, a successful feature film was made which alas turned out to be one of Richard Beckinsale's last acting roles due to his death.

    'Porridge' was, by turns, funny, sad and moving. A true television classic. Fortunately, it has not diminished at all with the passage of time.
  • Norman Stanley Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) is one of the greatest tv comedy characters to ever grace British tv. His daily battles with Mr Mackay are hilarious at times as he tries to beat the system in anyway that he can while doing time. I have watched this show since I was young and can still happily place this on my tv today as it still makes me laugh even though I am at the stage where I pretty much know every episode word for word. The cast including the prison officers and fellow prisoners all offer unique personalities and traits which add to the fun on show in this sitcom of the 70's. Some of the comedy in here is simple and offers cheap laughs with often overly simple one liners which could be spotted a mile away, but that said this show has great heart and a cast of people as said before which offer so much over the course of the series. I feel anyone looking for a nice simple comedy to binge to look no further, get this classic from the vault and sit back, relax and take it all in. You will not regret it ! 9/10
  • Have watched possibly all the episodes of each series and just re-visited the whole of the first series (comprising of six classic situations behind bars. The way each of the characters are introduced gave a strong foundation to the the two series (+ film) that followed. It's funny today that if 'Porridge' plays on T.V, they warn you about the outdated language but it's exactly this biting prison slang, that keeps it sharp, highly funny and in many ways endearing to the time. The real 'Porridge' prison, is actually located in St Albans (which was closed in 1914). The interiors were a cleverly designed set and the audacious opening credits (of the cell doors slamming) were filmed at the police station at Ealing (West London).
  • ronbell-2398427 January 2020
    Brilliant comedy. Great characters just hilarious antics. Excellent.
  • Porridge is one of the greatest sitcoms ever made starring comedy legend Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher a repeat offender in for another stretch for robbery he knows the officers and how to con them and his fellow prisoners a smart man on the wrong side of the fence he knows how to play the game and get what he wants out of it.

    This show is one of the funniest shows you will ever watch the writing is whitty and sarcastic with funny plot stories Ronnie Barker makes every line comedy gold give Porridge a watch you won't regret it you will laugh till your sides hurt.
  • ygwerin120 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is one e of my absolute all time favourite comedies, with a brilliant cast of comedy characters, top notch actors and excellent scripts. Norman Stanley Fletcher is in all likelihood the least possible candidate for a comic icon, and prison one must imagine would be the last location ever chosen. TV executives would be horrified at the very notion of it, let's face it what corporation in the States would be likely to sponsor such an idea?

    Porridge marks what must be in many ways Ronnie Barker's signature comedy master class as the old lag Fletcher. Richard Beckinsale was perfect as the young cellie Lennie Godber, naive and serving his first stretch. It was a desperately tragic loss when he passed away especially at such a tender age. Fulton Mackay is the Chief Prison Warden Mr. Mackay personified, severe and authoritarian. Brian Wilde is splendid as Mr. Barrowclough the Prison Warden, who believes in prisoners rehabilitation rather than punishment.

    There is also a marvellous assembly of support actors and characters, with many of Britain's best character actors. David Jason plays an old lag Blanco in sadly only a cameo appearance popping up in just 3 episodes. His disguise was so good that I honestly didn't recognise him at all. Christopher Biggins is Lukewarm Sam Kelly is Bunny Warren Tony Osoba is McLaren Brian Glover is Heslop Peter Vaughan is genial Harry Grout Slade prison Mr. Big

    When Fletcher finally decided to jack in his life of crime there followed Going Straight, something that I and mine really enjoyed, but more anon. The really Bad idea from the Beeb was for the complete relaunch of the show, set 40 years after Fletcher finished his last stretch. Whether or not its written by the original script writers, I found it impossible to even bother to watch the first episode. After the pilot episode Auntie made a full series which they claimed was a great success, so why did they cancel it? Exiting new series in the pipeline yeah right.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A comedy that doesn't fail to deliver on any episode of a series deserves full marks! Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais excellently, it must be said, provided the nation with a fine prison-comedy, that especially excelled with Ronnie Barker at the helm, aided by the other great comedy actor of the decade, Richard Beckinsale. Fletcher 'Fletch' (Barker) and Godber (Beckinsale) are at odds naturally with the system that incarcerated them. Godber's the nice, innocent 'first-timer' under Fletch's wing, though this sometime puts them at odds, but mostly they're the best of buddies. The main battle of course, is getting one over on the 'screws' - the Prison Chief, Mr McKay (the brilliant Fulton McKay) and the nervous, spineless, but respected (probably because of those qualities!) Mr Barrowclough, (The equally great, late, Brian Wilde). Always on the make and keeping ahead of the latter two, the 'lags' are ably supported in capers by some other small-time inmates, dumb-ish 'Bunny' Warren, hard Scot, McLaren, and 'horrible' Ives. Occasional support also from the great David Jason as 'Blanco' surfaced well. A special mention too, of the 'Mr Big' character, 'genial' Harry Grout (Peter Vaughan), who's less than that. Fletch makes an attempt to disuade 'Grouty' from 'persuading' Godber to 'throw' the boxing match he's in: "Oh, Harry, not the lad," says Fletch in vain to Grouty, "...he's Got scruples." "Well," says 'Grouty', "if he doesn't throw the match, tell 'im 'e won't 'ave 'em any longer!" An excellent comedy that never failed to please.
  • Ronnie Barker is without a doubt one Britain's greats, up there with David Jason, John Cleese, Peter Kay. Porridge is one of his Masterpieces where British Prison life is given humour and honesty.

    I am 37 and rank this as one of my favourite British comedies to me it simply doesn't age but matures like a fine wine.

    I would recommend it to any generation
  • I don't like this sitcom. It seems everybody else does, though. I find the gags are too obvious and I hardly laughed at all when watching it on T.V. It's a very old-fashioned style sitcom that probably only older folk will enjoy. The best comedy of all time is Only Fools And Horses. Without doubt! Oh and by the way, David Jason is in this series as Blanco. Check out the make-up! 4/10