The character of jailbird Norman Stanley Fletcher was originally conceived for a one-off comedy, Prisoner and Escort, forming one of Ronnie Barker's 1973 season of TV pilots, Seven of One. The BBC picked it up the next year for a full series, but neither they nor writers Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais can have known quite what a phenomenon they'd created with the show they thought of calling Bird or Stir, before settling on another euphemism for life behind bars, Porridge. When the new show first aired in 1974 it was greeted with outrage in sections of the tabloid press, shocked at the notion of a comedy programme glorifying prison. Little time was needed, though, before any complaints were drowned out underneath a chorus of critical acclaim and public adoration for what remains one of the most classic British sitcoms ever produced. Fletcher himself is an old hand at 'doing time', and we meet him serving a five-year stretch at HMP Prison Slade for breaking and entering - each episode would begin with the booming voice of the judge (recorded by Barker) passing sentence and the stark slamming of prison doors. Fletcher expects to enjoy a single cell but he's forced to share with a first-time offender, a naive, young Brummie called Lennie Godber (played by Richard Beckinsale). Fletcher reluctantly takes Godber under his wing and helps him to 'keep his nose clean' but together they always end up getting into trouble (often for reasons beyond their control), either with other inmates or the prison officers at Slade.

Number of Series: 3 Total Number of Episodes: 21 Transmitted: 1973 - 1977 First Episode: 1st April 1973 Last Episode: 25th March 1977

Synopsis Taken From BBC.Co.Uk

Film Images ©BBC Worldwide Ltd 2001.

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