Porridge (film)

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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 dates
  • 12 August 1979 (1979-08-12)
Running time
93 minutes[2]
Country United Kingdom
Language English

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

All the warders and inmates from the original series appear in the film, with the notable exceptions of Lukewarm, Heslop and Harris. There is also a different governor, played by Geoffrey Bayldon.

The film includes one of the last appearances by Richard Beckinsale, the actor who played Godber. He died in March 1979, a few weeks after its completion.[1]


In the film, which is set a year before the final episode of the TV series, Fletcher and Godber are forced by another inmate to escape from prison, and then have to try to break back in before they are found by the police.

Three characters not seen in the TV series make an impact in the film. Rudge, played by Daniel Peacock, is a young, timid prisoner in the Godber mould, seen arriving for his three-year stretch for shoplifting at the beginning of the film. He comes into his own when he shows his outstanding football skills during the game that leads to the breakout. Oakes, played by Barrie Rutter, is a violent armed robber who arrives in the same van as Rudge and is sprung for the breakout, reluctantly taking Fletcher and Godber with him. Beale, played by Christopher Godwin, is a new prison officer who subscribes to Mackay's firm approach to the job, but proves easy to manipulate into recommending a celebrity football match.


Unlike the television episodes, the film is not a BBC production and there are 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 company ITC Entertainment. It was shot mainly on location at Chelmsford Prison, Essex, which was unoccupied at the time because it was being refurbished after a fire in one of the wings. The escape sequence was filmed in Buckinghamshire, and Boxley, Kent. There is also a brief shot of the gates of Maidstone Prison. Sets were constructed for some cell and kitchen scenes.

Most of the filming took place in freezing conditions in January 1979. 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 producer-director of the original BBC Television show Porridge, broadcast between 1974 and 1977.

When Fletcher unwillingly becomes trainer of the prison team he comments that a lifetime of supporting Leyton Orient (football club) has made him disillusioned with the game. In the BBC Television series Fletcher periodically refers to supporting Tottenham Hotspur.

It was the death of Richard Beckinsale just two weeks after the end of shooting that brought an end to any further Porridge projects.


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. The closing credits contain a more upbeat song by Joe Brown, entitled "Free Inside".



  1. ^ a b c "Porridge (1979) - Film Review from". Film4. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Porridge IMDb entry". Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  3. ^ Richard Webster, Dick Clement, Ian la Frenais (2001). Porridge The Inside Story. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7472-3294-6. 

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