Porridge, the classic 1970s prison comedy starring Ronnie Barker as Norman Fletcher, is to be revived with a BBC pilot centred around the lovable rogue’s grandson.
The comedy’s writers, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, claim that the Corporation has commissioned them to write a single episode of a new show which La Frenais said he hopes will be turned into a series.
“We were asked by the BBC to do a revival and decided to set it right up to date,” La Frenais told The Sunday Times. “It will be set in a modern prison while Slade was of course Victorian.”
La Frenais added that the main character will be called “Fletcher” like Barker’s original and will be serving time for that most un-1970s of crimes, computer hacking.
“He’s called Fletch too and has what I would call attitude,” said the writer.
The original comedy is still repeated by the BBC and centred on Barker’s Norman, a “habitual criminal” but also a lovable rogue.
Other characters included his young and naive cellmate Lennie Godber, played by the late Richard Beckinsale and Mr Mackay, Fulton Mackay’s unsentimental prison officer.
Brian Wilde played Mackay’s kindly colleague Mr Barrowclough while Sam Kelly took the role of the affable and illiterate Bunny Warren. Christopher Biggins playing the openly gay inmate Lukewarm.
The original series ran between 1974 and 1977 and was a favourite of the great nature broadcaster David Attenborough who once called it “the greatest programme ever made”.
RadioTimes.com understands that the commission is for the BBC’s new “Landmark Comedy” season which will mark 60 years since Hancock’s Half Hour launched the genre on BBC television in 2016.
“BBC1 will mark our enduring affection for all the great comedy characters we have met over the 60 years by enlisting the biggest names in British comedy writing and performing to revisit loved classics alongside launching new shows in a landmark comedy season,” the BBC announced in September.
A BBC spokeswoman was unable to confirm the commission but told RadioTimes.com: “There are a number of shows being considered for BBC1’s Landmark Sitcom Season but nothing is confirmed as yet.”