Porridge, With The Late Great Ronnie Barker
While there are very few comics who actual cross the divide to acting, there are even fewer who actually go on to have two highly successful comedy shows, which even years after they ended are very much still in demand. Ronnie Barker is one such actor and his role in Porridge, as Norman Stanley Fletcher the mouthy inmate of Slade Prison has gone down in comic folklore. He also had one of the most able casts to support him, including the late Richard Beckinsale and the excellent David Jason.
Each episode was a battle of wits between the inmates and the prison officers, of whom Mr MacKay was the one who never game them an inch. Richard Beckinsale played “Godber” a young lad from Birmingham who was doing his first “stretch”. Originally hoping that his senior status in the hierarchy might blag him a single cell, “Fletch” was dismayed to be paired up with “Godber”, a young man whom he grudgingly took under his wing, but always at a cost!
While Ronnie Barker was as successful as any comedian had ever been with his “Two Ronnies” double act with Ronnie Corbett, Porridge brought together Barker and David Jason for the first time. This partnership lasted for many years, and saw them reunited as the stars of the show in “Open All hours” (again a hugely successful comedy show which is still repeated to this day, more than 20 years after the last episode was recorded). Jason later paid a great tribute to his “special friend” Ronnie Barker on his sad death, and put his success down to those early days with the great man.
Tonight’s episode see a “thief” in the ranks, and while the prison is actually full of convicted criminals, honour amongst thieves comes into play. In some hilarious scenes each inmate is questioned, probed and prodded until the culprit comes forward – a surprise to everyone!