15 facts you might not know about BBC sitcom Porridge – no theme to original name


Porridge star Patricia Brake has died aged 79 after battling cancer.

The actress played Ingrid, daughter of Ronnie Barker’s wise latecomer Norman Stanley Fletcher, on the hit 1970s prison sitcom.

But what do you know about the iconic BBC show? Here, Daily Star helps you get your oats by revealing 15 fascinating facts.

1. The show was written by comedy legends Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who also wrote series such as The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. A pilot episode of Porridge debuted in 1973, followed by the first series in 1974.

2. Originally called Prisoner and Escort, it was renamed Porridge after a 1950s slang term for prison – “making porridge” – based on the food served behind bars for breakfast.

Porridge ran for 20 episodes over three series through 1977, with two Christmas specials

3. Porridge ran for 20 episodes across three series through 1977, with two Christmas specials – and there was even a Porridge movie in 1979.

4. Comedian Ronnie Barker played Londoner and habitual criminal “Fletch.” He then performed on shows such as Open All Hours, but felt Porridge was his best work. Barker died aged 76 in 2005.

5. Richard Beckinsale played his cellmate and rookie lag Lennie Godber (whose initials Leonard Arthur Godber even spelled “lag”). Beckinsale, father of actress Kate Beckinsale, also starred in ITV’s Rising Damp but died aged just 31 of a heart attack in 1979.

Patricia Brake
Patricia Brake died this week at the age of 79 after battling cancer

6. Scottish actor Fulton Mackay, who played strict prison officer Mr. McKay, later starred in the children’s TV series Fraggle Rock. He died of stomach cancer at the age of 64 in 1987.

7. Brian Wilde who played the shy officer Mr. Barrowclough also played Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine. Wilde died in 2008 at the age of 80.

8. Other stars of the show included panto and I’m A Celeb favorite Christopher Biggins as Lukewarm, Only Fools and Horses star David Jason as Blanco and Lovejoy’s Dudley Sutton as Reg. Game of Thrones star Peter Vaughan, who played the creepily laggy Grouty, died aged 93 in 2016.

The show had no theme music – just the voice of the judge sentencing Fletcher, originally also voiced by Ronnie Barker

9. While the fictional HMP Slade prison was supposedly based in Cumbria, the doors in the opening credits were actually those of the former St Albans prison, now a registry office.

10. The shots of locked cell doors were filmed at Shepherds Bush Police Station in London, while for the film version, HMP Chelmsford in Essex dubbed as Slade.

A whopping 16 million viewers tuned in to the original Porridge

11. The show had no theme music – just the voice of the judge sentencing Fletcher, originally also voiced by Ronnie Barker.

12. Because its characters couldn’t swear, the show is credited with popularizing the words “naff” and “nerk,” meaning yuck. Barker wrote Fletcher’s Book of Rhyming Slang on the back of the show.

13. A 1978 TV spin-off titled Going Straight charted Fletcher’s life outside prison. It also featured Godber marrying the character of Patricia Brake. A 2003 mockumentary would see Fletch as a pub owner.

14. A whopping 16 million viewers tuned in to the original Porridge. It was also a smash hit with real-life prisoners and even inspired an American version called On The Rocks.

15. The original Porridge screenwriters returned for a series of BBC reboots in 2016 starring Kevin Bishop as Fletcher’s grandson, Nigel, who was inside for cyber-hacking.

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