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  • Full Frame
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • None
  • Cast/crew biographies - Ronnie Barker
  • Animated menus


Magna/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . G . PAL


In the '70s, many top British TV series were brought to the big screen and this is no exception. Running from 1974 to 1977, Porridge (slang for doing time in prison) was one of the best around. Ronnie Barker (The Two Ronnies, Open All Hours) is perfect as Norman "Fletch" Fletcher and was the driving force of this series and feature film. He's ably assisted by Richard Beckinsale as Lennie Godbar (pronounced Goppa), who sadly passed away from a heart attack shortly after making this film in March 1979. All the characters from the TV series are here, including Mackay the Scottish prison guard played by Fulton Mackay (there was a time when Mackay was considered for the role of the fourth Doctor Who after the departure of Jon Pertwee). It was filmed on location at Chelmsford Prison, which was undergoing renovations after a fire at the time, thus adding greatly to the realism.

"It’s better to have loved and lost than to spend your whole ruddy life with her."

Fletch and Godbar are quite happy doing their time until a couple of new prisoners are introduced to the system. One of these prisoners is planning to escape and Fletch is “asked” to convince the guards to suggest a celebrity soccer match between the prisoners and visiting stars. Much in the same way as the new big screen release The Mean Machine, but this time it’s not against the screws. During the escape, Fletch and Godbar are caught up and find themselves on the outside. Now all they have to do is break back in. This is at times hilarious and stays very true to the original series. The script writing is very well handled and fast, with tons of one liners and sight gags aplenty. The film is a classic feature of a classic series and well worth a watch if you are a fan of British comedy.


The best way to describe the transfer is to say why did they bother? The film artefacts are constant and totally ruin an enjoyable film. These are in the form of white flecks and black spots predominantly and you would be hard pressed to find a scene without them. There is a lot of grain, especially on the outdoor scenes. Colours are reasonable but look very worn, as does the shading and blacks. Aliasing is also quite common, mostly on striped shirts. There are so many releases out there from this period and prior that are of very good quality, so surely if this was the best source available, there doesn’t seem to be a point of releasing it. If you are looking for a good quality picture then look no further than the disc's cover, because that's as good as it gets.


Provided in Dolby Digital mono, this is a less than adequate soundtrack. Dialogue is clear but that is about all that is good. Turn off all that expensive sound equipment for this one and save the power, you won’t notice the difference.


Extras, what extras? There is a scene selection, hardly an extra. There is also a biography on Ronnie Barker only. This is made up of several pages of poorly written information on his career. That’s all folks.


Porridge is a great film with an excellent cast. Sadly the transfer lets down the quality of this film. If you own the video then hang on to it, it will be of better quality than this. If you fancy seeing how good this film is and don’t mind poor quality picture and sound then by all means rent it.

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      And I quote...
    "A football match in a prison? Where’s Vinnie Jones when you need him?"
    - Adrian Turvey
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