'I'm used to this kind of food, I went to Harrow' admits a disgraced dentist over his lunch. Prison life as conceived in Porridge is indeed about as punishing an ordeal as boarding school, and because links with a tougher and nastier reality are very, very tenuous, the film is in fact unobjectionable and quite funny. Far funnier and better constructed than the dread phrase 'TV spin-off' would imply, and still firmly under the control of screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (also credited, respectively, as director and producer). Beckinsale and Barker are excellent as the Laurel and Hardy duo of cons who find themselves breaking in, rather than out of the nick. Another definite plus is the use of Chelmsford Prison (empty since a fire the previous year) as principal location.
Cast and crew
Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Ronnie Barker Richard Beckinsale Fulton Mackay Brian Wilde Peter Vaughan Julian Holloway Geoffrey Bayldon Christopher Godwin