Times are hard for habitual guest of Her Majesty Norman Stanley Fletcher. The new prison officer, Beale, makes MacKay look soft and what's more, an escape plan is hatching from the cell of prison godfather Grouty and Fletcher wants no part of it. The breakout is set for the day of a morale-raising football match between a 'celebrity' football team and the inmates of Slade. Everything is going to plan until Godber is injured on the goal post. In the ensuing confusion, Fletcher finds himself on the wrong side of the prison walls and must now try and break back into prison.
Genius TV show translates well for fun packed movie. Porridge is a spin off film from the successful TV series of the same name that aired on British BBC1 between 1974 and 1977. It's directed by Dick Clement who also co-writes with Ian La Frenais. It stars Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Fulton Mackay, Brian Wilde and Peter Vaughn. Lets face it, and lets be honest here, for many Brits who grew up with the TV show, Porridge is simply one of the greatest shows Britain has ever produced. Sharp and on the money in writing and characterisations, and boasting a cast that were always irresistible, it still manages to enthral millions today during continuous reruns on cable and satellite TV. In light of the regard and popularity the show had, it was perhaps inevitable that a film production was just a matter of time, because, well, all the great British comedies of the past had feature films made. But of course not all were particularly any good. So it's with much relief to find that the film version of Porridge is a very decent offering. The plot sees Fletcher (Barker) involved as the manager of the prison football team, to which, unbeknown to the wily old lag, is being used as a front for an escape attempt by Oakes (Barrie Rutter), and naturally the smarmy menace of Grouty (Vaughn) is pulling the strings. Fletcher & Godber (Beckinsale) then accidentally get caught up in the escape and thus have to break back into the prison before anyone catches them! This set-up is wonderful and makes for some very funny comedy, executed with aplomb by Barker, Mackay and co. True that taking the characters out of the confines of the prison strips away much of what made the TV series so special, but the characters are so strong, the actors chemistry so evident, film stands tall enough to not sully the reputation of the show. It's a delightful way to spend an hour and half with your feet up, as a stand alone film it entertains those not familiar with the TV show. While for us fans? It sits nicely alongside the show as an extended viewing of comic genius behind and in front of the camera. 8/10 R.I.P. fellas, your legacy lives on always.