It’s 2016, And We Are Getting A Fresh Helping Of – Porridge
Another Sitcom, another revival
As part of the BBC’s Landmark Comedy Season, under the section “brand new episodes of classic sitcoms” came this one off episode of Porridge.
Whilst the original cast were no longer with us, the original writers were. Rather than put new actors in the original roles, the whole story was brought up to date.
The remake was generally well received by critics and pulled overnight ratings of 4 million. Consequently a full series was commissioned.
The new series premiered in October 2017 and ran for six episodes, taking the revived series to a total of seven.
Although the series started on a high back in 2016 by the end of it’s first full series ratings had dropped to just 2.4 million. To date the official BBC position is that there are no plans for a second series.
It runs in the family. Nigel Norman Fletcher is the grandson of the original ‘Fletch’ Like his Grandfather young Fletcher finds himself on the wrong side of the law for computer hacking and serving five years in prison.
He’s not long been inside when his IT skills are required when Richie Weeks seeks to have his record sanitized prior to an upcoming parole hearing.
Like the original there’s the cell mate, whilst in the original this was young Godber in 2016 fletch’s grandson has an older cellmate – Joe, who, forty years earlier was a fellow inmate of his grandfather. there’s the kindly officer Braithwaite and of course you must have a harsh scots guard Mr Meekie.
How Did It Compare To The Original?
Kevin Bishop – Nigel Norman Fletcher
Mark Bonnar – Officer Meekie
Dominic Coleman – Officer Braithwaite
Pippa Haywood – Governor Hallwood
Dave Hill – Joe Lotterby
Ralph Ineson – Richie Wekks
Written By: Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement
Directed By: Dominic Brigstocke
Original Transmission Date: 28th August 2016 (pilot), 6th October – 10th November 2017 (series)
Is There Still Life In These Old Shows?
Porridge is one of the all time greats and all episodes still exist in the archives, so re-making it was a brave decision by the BBC. However this was not so much of a re-make as an updated version which is perhaps why the pilot faired so well in the ratings.
In our opinion whilst the story was up to date (cyber crimes, modern setting) the series itself was far to close to the original. Prison officers Meekie (McKay) and Braithwaite (Barraclough) even young Fletcher was almost a clone of the original. As the series progressed fans of the original would have been able to predict what came next. Still an enjoyable watch, but the BBC were right to leave it at one series.