Porridge (1974 - 1977)

Norman Stanley Fletcher (Ronnie Barker, The Two Ronnies, Open All Hours, His Lordship Entertains) has been sentenced to five years in prison. Inside he takes Lennie Godber (Richard Beckinsale) under his wings, a young offender serving his first spell in prison. The good humored Fletcher never lets pass an opportunity for a witty reply and plays the system to improve conditions for himself and his mates.

The superb acting is a strong point of the show. as well as a plot that neither falls short on comedy nor sacrifices a credible portrait of life behind bars and convincing characters for cheap jokes or slapstick. Outstanding is episode three for using no other set than the interior of Fletcher's cell and presenting nothing but the dialog of two men spending a night locked up, not only sharing jokes, but also revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings, lending depth and integrity to the characters. Notably a number of neologisms (standing in for stronger language not suitable for 1970s television audiences) have found their way into the English language, as exemplified by the fact that even Princess Anne is reported to have told journalists to "naff off".