Friday, October 07, 2005
Death of a genius....
"Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court, and it is now my duty to pass sentence. You are a habitual criminal, who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offences - you will go to prison for 5 years."
As others have said elsewhere, I grew up with TV series like The Two Ronnies, Porridge & Open All Hours - there is one clear common theme, great comedy performed by Ronnie Barker.
Clearly the writing of Porridge by Dick Clements & Ian La Frenais' was excellent, but match it with the intelligence & comedic timing delivered by Ronnie Barker & perfect comedy was made - albeit for a short period of only 5 years (1 pilot episode, 3 series & 2 Christmas Specials followed by a spin off called "Going Straight" & a film in 1978).
In my mind & many others, he is remembered as he wanted to be - the funiest man on television. The generation of 30 somethings were lucky to have grown up with him on the screen, and it felt like we knew him, if only as the characters he portrayed.
The irony & wit of Porridge makes it my favourite of all. Whilst some of the plots may have been a bit thin, the simple interaction between the father & son characters of Fletch & Godber were effectively real & the "don't let the bastards get you down" approach of Fletcher towards the screws, particularly Mr Mackay, was genius.
"I'm only in prison because of my beliefs.
I believed the night watchman was asleep."
Norman Stanley Fletcher - April 1973