Porridge is one of the all-time greats, with memorable, believable characters, richly comic dialogue and cunning plots. Its main character, Fletcher is played by the comedy guvnor himself Ronnie Barker. Each episode begins with the noise of prison doors slamming shut and the ringing tones of a judge sentencing Fletcher to prison for five years. This sets the tone: habitual criminal Fletcher is returning to jail for yet another stretch, although this time he is determined that it will be his last. Hoping his senior status will snag him a single cell, Fletcher is forced to share with a first-time offender, Lennie Godber, a naive, scared Birmingham lad.
Unintentionally, Fletcher becomes a father-figure to the young man, steering him through the choppy waters of prison life. Although the pair aim for a quiet time, they invariably clash with authority in the shape of the kindly, well-meaning and easily swayed guard Mr Barrowclough, and the harsh and suspicious, everything-by-the-book Scots warden Mr MacKay. However, by using all his guile and prison experience, Fletcher usually manages to extricate them, hoping - and usually succeeding - to score 'a little victory' along the way. In essence, Fletcher's advice to Godber, born of his long prison experience, is the two-fold “bide your time” and “don't let the bastards grind you down”. Porridge is rich, satisfying, and packed with goodness – with no sell-by date.