Characters of Porridge (TV series)

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Henry J. Barrowclough[edit]

Henry Barrowclough is a prison warder, portrayed by Brian Wilde. Unlike Mr Mackay, whose harsh and confrontational methods he disapproves of (though he dare not make this known to Mr Mackay), Barrowclough is a timid, sympathetic man who firmly believes that the role of prison is to rehabilitate rather than punish.

Mr Barrowclough does not seem to be cut out for the life of a prison warden, and he says in the movie version whilst in conversation with a new officer that Slade prison is a miserable place and that the only reason he stays is that its either this or being at home with the wife. Fletcher and the other prisoners constantly abuse his leniency to acquire more pleasant jobs, cells or special privileges. They also know how to forge his signature. However, despite this, the prisoners do hold a great deal of fondness for Barrowclough. At one point, in an attempt to raise his prestige due to the vicious nature of Mr. Wainwright, the (temporary) replacement of Mackay, they stage a riot, refusing to stop for even the harshest of threats, including Wainwright himself. But when, on Fletch's suggestion, Barrowclough is called into the hall, they fall silent as he nervously enters, and do not hesitate in obeying his rather timid requests, such as 'now, why don't you all put those things down...' and 'in the meantime, why don't we all file back to our cells in a nice, orderly fashion...?'

However nervous his job makes Mr Barrowclough, it is nothing compared to the fear he has of his often mentioned but never seen wife, Mrs Alice Barrowclough. It is partly because of Fletcher's advice on dealing with his wife that Barrowclough is especially lenient when dealing with his requests and misdemeanours. Fletcher once described him as looking like 'Arthur Askey on stilts'.

Lennie Godber[edit]

The late Richard Beckinsale as Godber in Porridge

Leonard Arthur 'Lennie' Godber is a fictional character in the 1970s BBC comedy series Porridge (TV series), he was played by Richard Beckinsale. Godber is from Birmingham, supports Aston Villa F.C., has an O Level in geography, and studies for a history O Level while in prison. Before he was arrested he shared a flat with his girlfriend Denise in nearby Smethwick, West Midlands. In an effort to get her a gift, Godber broke into a neighbour's flat. He was caught, and it was for this that he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Denise later broke up with Godber through a Dear John letter.

Godber often came into conflict with the ever suspicious Mr Mackay, who appeared to find it very hard to believe that Lennie was not up to something. Even when he was, MacKay found it very hard to pin anything on him, thanks to Godber's penchant for dramatics, and occasionally to the cover-up efforts of Fletch and the sympathetic Mr. Barrowclough. Godber works in the prison kitchen where he has ample opportunities to steal valuable commodities such as butter and pineapple chunks that Fletcher is fond of. Godber also briefly took up a career as a boxer in the prison, although this was short-lived when he got involved in match fixing.

Godber appears in all but three episodes of Porridge. He is absent from series 1 episodes Ways and Means and Men Without Women, and series 2's No Peace for the Wicked

In the sequel Going Straight, Godber is engaged to Fletcher's daughter Ingrid, having met her whilst she was on a prison visit. In the 2003 mockumentary Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher, they are still married, and have a son.

Harry Grout[edit]

Harry Grout as portrayed by Peter Vaughan in Porridge

Storylines[edit]

'Genial' Harry Grout, or 'Grouty', as he is often referred to, is feared by all the prisoners, even Fletcher winces in terror whenever he is summoned to Grouty's cell. His schemes include running a drugs ring, funded by the doctor's office, and rigging boxing matches. If crossed, Grouty has little hesitation in setting one of his various heavies on those who displease him.

Grouty also arranges things such as prison breaks, as seen in the Christmas special "No Way Out," in which the major plot involves his trying to arrange a breakout plan, with much help from an unwilling Fletcher. Eventually, Fletcher reveals the tunnel that was dug to Mr. Mackay but ends up landing himself in the prison infirmary. After Mackay offers him a bottle of whisky (possibly Laphroaig, but the label was unseen in accordance with BBC regulations) in exchange for information, Fletcher tells him that they disposed of the soil from the tunnel by burying it in a second one.

Life after Slade Prison[edit]

In the 2003 mockumentary Life Beyond The Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher, it is revealed that after being released from prison Grouty continued running his "business empire" (although he insisted it was now straight, and no-one could prove otherwise), and also became a "celebrity criminal", in a similar manner to Frankie Fraser and The Krays. He died of a heart attack, but just before he died, he told Fletcher where his stash was hidden. Fletcher is seen laying a memorial wreath at his funeral which simply says "Nerk".

Lukewarm[edit]

Lukewarm was played by Christopher Biggins. Lukewarm is a rotund young man with a calm and personable demeanour, who originates from the Midlands. The circumstances that brought him to be in prison are unknown although in one episode - The Porridge Christmas Special, "No Way Out" - he successfully relieved Mr. Barrowclough of his wristwatch, in a manner strongly suggestive of a skilled pickpocket. He is known to be gay, and has a boyfriend called Trevor on the outside who is a watch repairer from Southport; Trevor appears in the episode "Men Without Women". Lukewarm shared a cell with Blanco, over whom he would fuss a lot, especially when the elderly convict was due to face the parole board. Blanco did concede that, for all his fussing, Lukewarm did keep the cell nice and clean. Lukewarm is often seen knitting.

Although he is a trusted friend and confidante of Fletcher's, he seldom becomes directly involved in his schemes, preferring instead to spend his association time observing the latest goings-on whilst busying himself with his latest knitting projects. He works in the kitchens alongside Lennie Godber and is an enthusiastic if notoriously untalented cook (although it was said that he did make good pasties).

Lukewarm was released 3 months prior to Fletcher in Going Straight. Fletcher mentions to McClaren that he has heard from Lukewarm that his court case is coming up, but it's possible he is innocent (stealing a woman's handbag, claiming he thought it was his).

In the mockumentary "Life Beyond The Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher", his real name is revealed as being Timothy Underwood, although in Just Desserts he seems to be addressed by a warden as Lewis.

Jim McClaren[edit]

Jim McClaren is played by Tony Osoba. McClaren, who claims to have been adopted, is Black and also Scottish. This led to a string of racist abuse when he first arrived at Slade prison. Fletch, in reference to his Scottish upbringing, frequently calls him "Jock." Upon arrival, he was an angry young man, and it was left up to Fletcher to calm him down and to curb the abuse he received. A keen football player, he was soon turning out every Saturday afternoon for the inter-wing football matches. He supports Greenock Morton F.C. [1]

Along with Godber and Warren, McClaren is a regular conspirator with Fletch. He is the last of their circle to be released, and Fletcher is seen bidding him farewell in the first episode of Going Straight.

According to a 2003 TV special, Life Beyond the Box, approved by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais but not written by them, thirty years later McClaren is a member of the Scottish Parliament.

Mr. Mackay[edit]

Mr. Mackay (born 23 April 1923) is played by Fulton Mackay. Mackay is a neurotic and tough prison warder whose constant obsession in life is to catch out Fletcher. Fletch's sly tactics in misdeeds ranging from fixing boxing matches, stealing pills from the prison doctor and eggs from the prison farmyard right through to finding new and imaginative ways to stick two fingers up at Mackay and get away with it, were specially designed to get up Mackay's nose. In return, Mackay's frenzied attempts to catch Fletch out, when fruitful, gave Mackay a level of smugness and satisfaction which was only accentuated by Fletch's hostility and skulking. Mackay was born into a poor family and went on to be a drill sergeant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and he brings the same manner and expectations of discipline to his job at HMP Slade. Mackay is married and his wife is named Marie, as mentioned in the episode 'Men without Women'. Mackay's temper is agitated by the constant suspicion he has of Fletch, and his despair at the leniency of his other polar opposite in the series - his optimistic, mild-mannered, kind-hearted prison officer colleague Mr Barrowclough. Mackay's homeland of Scotland serves as a constant source of entertainment for Fletcher who is always on the lookout for an opportunity to antagonise Mackay. In one episode Mackay asks Fletch whether he felt he was working class. Fletch responds 'I did, until I visited Glasgow. Now I think I'm middle class.'

Medals[edit]

During the series Mackay regularly wore his army service ribbons on his uniform. During the run of the series he wore the 1939-1945 Star, the Defence Medal, and the War Medal 1939-1945 and by the time of the film this was expanded to a second row containing the General Service Medal 1918-1962, the Korea Medal, the UN Korea Medal, and lastly the Jubilee medal, 1977, which was awarded on the 25th anniversary of Elizabeth II's rule.

Ribbon - 1939-45 Star.png Ribbon - Defence Medal.png Ribbon - War Medal.png

General Service Medal 1918 BAR.svg Korea Medal.svg United Nations Service Medal for Korea Ribbon.svg QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

References[edit]

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