Porridge (Film)

Theatrical poster
Directed by Dick Clement[1]
Produced by Ian La Frenais[1]
Written by Dick Clement
Ian La Frenais
Starring Ronnie Barker
Richard Beckinsale
Fulton Mackay
Brian Wilde
Peter Vaughan
Sam Kelly
Barrie Rutter
Daniel Peacock
Christopher Godwin
Geoffrey Bayldon
Music by Joe Brown
Release date(s)[2]
Running time 93 minutes[2]
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Porridge is a 1979 film based upon the television series Porridge. It was released under the title Doing Time in the United States.

All the regular sitcom warders and inmates were involved, with the exception of Lukewarm, Heslop, and Harris. There was also a new governor, played by Geoffrey Bayldon. The film represented the last finished work by Richard Beckinsale, the actor who played Godber. He died in March 1979, a few weeks after its completion.[1]


Set a year before the final episode of the series, Fletcher and Godber are forced by another inmate to escape from prison and then have to try to break back in before they're found by the police.

Three one-off characters made an impact in the film. Rudge, played by Daniel Peacock, was a young, timid prisoner in the Godber mould, seen arriving for his three-year stretch for shoplifting at the beginning of the film. He came into his own when he showed his outstanding football skills during the game which led to the breakout. Oakes, played by Barrie Rutter, was the violent armed robber who arrived in the same van as Rudge and was sprung for the breakout, reluctantly taking Fletcher and Godber with him. Beale, played by Christopher Godwin, was a new prison officer who subscribed to the firm approach to the job, but proved easy to manipulate into recommending a celebrity football match.


Unlike the television episodes, the film is not a BBC production, with no references to the corporation on the DVD release (2003). The budget for the film was £250,000 and it was backed by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment. It was shot mainly on location at Chelmsford Prison, Essex, UK, the prison being unoccupied at the time because it was being refurbished after a fire in one of the wings. The escape sequence was filmed in Buckinghamshire, there is also a brief shot of the gates of Maidstone Prison and sets were constructed for some cell and kitchen scenes. Most of the filming took place in freezing conditions in January and the resulting delays to the filming schedule meant that the part written for Tony Osoba had to be reduced because he had a commitment to appear in Charles Endell Esquire and his lines were given to other actors.[3]


The character "Lotterby", played by Zoot Money, is a nod to Sydney Lotterby, the director of the original BBC Television version of Porridge, broadcast between 1974 and 1977. When Fletcher unwillingly becomes trainer of the prison team, he replies that a lifetime of supporting Leyton Orient (Football Club) has made him dis-illusioned with the game. In the BBC Television series, Fletcher periodically refers to supporting Tottenham Hotspur.


The opening credits of the film feature the hit "Without You" by Nilsson and "Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury and The Blockheads and the closing credits contain a more upbeat song by the British singer Joe Brown, entitled "Free Inside".



External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • British Comedy Guide

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