Scottish Daily Mail

Al­most 40 years on, it’s time for an­other help­ing of Por­ridge

- By Sam Creighton TV and Ra­dio Re­porter Crime · Prison · Stanley · The Sunday Times · BBC One · Slade · Slade · Ronnie Barker · Dick Clement · Ian La Frenais · Richard Beckinsale

NEARLY four decades since Nor­man Stan­ley Fletcher walked out of Slade Prison a free man, Por­ridge is about to re­turn to our TV screens.

And it seems Ron­nie Barker’s lov­able rogue failed to keep his fam­ily on the straight and nar­row.

A new episode of the revered prison com­edy is re­port­edly in the pipe­line – with Fletcher’s grand­son cen­tre stage. He too is known as Fletch, but is in his twen­ties, has ‘at­ti­tude’ and is serv­ing time for the very mod­ern crime of com­puter hack­ing.

The one-off in­stal­ment comes from the show’s orig­i­nal writ­ers, Dick Cle­ment and Ian La Fre­nais.

The orig­i­nal se­ries at­tracted up to 15mil­lion view­ers when it aired from 1974 to 1977 – about twice as many as The X Fac­tor re­ceives now.

It is be­lieved the show will be part of the cor­po­ra­tion’s Land­mark Sit­com Sea­son next year, which will see a num­ber of clas­sic come­dies up­dated. If Por­ridge is a suc­cess, it could re­turn for a full se­ries.

Barker be­lieved Por­ridge to be his best work. The se­ries also starred Richard Beck­in­sale as his young cell­mate Len­nie God­ber, Ful­ton Mackay as tough prison of­fi­cer Mr Mackay and Brian Wilde as the in­ef­fec­tual warder Mr Bar­r­a­clough.

All the stars are now dead and it is not known if their fam­i­lies have been con­tacted about the new project. Cast­ing has not yet be­gun.

While the orig­i­nal saw Fletcher tak­ing the naive God­ber un­der his wing, the new episode will re­verse the re­la­tion­ship with his grand­son shar­ing a cell with a more ex­pe­ri­enced crim­i­nal.

La Fre­nais told The Sun­day Times said: ‘We were asked by the BBC to do a re­vival and de­cided to set it right up to date. [Fletch’s grand­son is] called Fletch, too, and has what I would call at­ti­tude. It will be set in a mod­ern prison while [HMP] Slade was of course Vic­to­rian.’

The orig­i­nal se­ries was fol­lowed by Go­ing Straight, about Fletcher’s life af­ter jail. Barker re­turned to the role for a spoof doc­u­men­tary in 2003.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘There are a num­ber of shows be­ing con­sid­ered for BBC1’s Land­mark Sit­com Sea­son but noth­ing is con­firmed as yet.’

 ??  ?? Orig­i­nals: Ful­ton Mackay and Ron­nie Barker
Orig­i­nals: Ful­ton Mackay and Ron­nie Barker

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