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, set a year before the final episode of the TV series, 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]


When new prison officer Beale (Christopher Godwin) suggests that Slade Prison set up an inmates versus celebrities football match, Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) becomes the prison team's manager. The match proves the ideal situation for newly arrived violent armed robber Oakes (Barrie Rutter) to escape. The escape is arranged by Grouty (Peter Vaughan), the prison's Mr. Big, who forces Fletcher to put Oakes in the prison team.

The celebrity team arrive in a coach and during the match Oakes feigns an injury and is taken to the changing rooms where he meets an accomplice, the driver of the coach. They then exchange clothes and Oakes ties the coach driver up. Shortly after Godber (Richard Beckinsale) is concussed and Fletch takes him to the changing rooms. Oakes forces Fletcher abd Godber into the coach's luggage compartment at gunpoint and drives out of the prison on the pretext of topping up the fuel.

Oakes meets further accomplices and all three then drive off in another vehicle. The escape is detected but Fletch says he doesn't want to be out as both he and Godber only have a short amount of time to serve. Oakes releases them and Godber and Fletch manage to get back to the coach, which is about to be driven back to the prison. At the prison both convicts slip out of the coach and smuggle themselves in the prison officers' club's store cupboard where they are later found, drunk.



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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