Almost four decades after Porridge left our screens, it seems Norman Fletcher couldn’t keep his family on the straight and narrow – as his grandson is set to star in the return of the prison sitcom.
The hit BBC show is reportedly making a comeback after 38 years, as the comedy’s original scriptwriters Dick Clement, 77, and Ian La Frenais, 79, reunite to work on an updated storyline.
It will centre on the grandson of Ronnie Barker’s Norman Fletcher. The child of Norman’s son Ray ends up behind bars for a more modern crime: computer hacking. Inside, he shares a cell with an older inmate.
Ian told The Sunday Times: “He’s called Fletch too and is a chip off the old block. He has what I’d call attitude. It will be set in a modern prison, while Slade was, of course, Victorian. Anyway, I’ve just read that the Victorian ones are being sold off.”
He added: “We were asked by the BBC to do a revival and decided to set it right up to date.”
Porridge ran for three series from 1974 until 1977, attracting audiences of 15 million.
A 1978 spin-off, Going Straight, lasted one series, and the show also spawned a 1979 film, three novels, and a 2003 mockumentary looking at how the main characters had fared since leaving prison.
Each episode began with the voice of a judge sentencing Fletcher to five years, while prison doors slammed and keys turned in locks.
Fletcher’s cellmate was Lennie Godber, played by Richard Beckinsale. Other inmates were played by Christopher Biggins, Tony Osoba and Sam Kelly.
Once inside, Fletcher ran up against hard-line prison warder Mr Mackay (Fulton Mackay) and outwitted the bumbling Mr Barrowclough (Brian Wilde).
The new series may include a character like Mr Mackay, with Ian saying: “He might even be Scottish again.”
The new Porridge will apparently be a one-off, with plans for a series if it is successful.
Porridge writer Dick Clement with Christopher Biggins, who played series regular Lukewarm (Matt Crossick/PA)
A BBC spokesman told the Radio Times: “There are a number of shows being considered for BBC One’s Landmark Sitcom Season,but nothing is confirmed as yet.”
Launching the Landmark season in September, the BBC said: “BBC One will mark our enduring affection for all the great comedy characters we have met over the 60 years by enlisting the biggest names in British comedy writing and performing to revisit loved classics alongside launching new shows in a landmark comedy season.”