Porridge @ Liverpool Empire review

So Wednesday night I decided to take Mrs Fay out to Damons and then we went into town to see Porridge at the Liverpool Empire. Written especially for the stage by the original creators, Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais it has a cast of of 15. Headlining the show is Shaun Williamson – best known for his fomer role as Barry Evans in ‘EastEnders’ and, more recently, for playing a comically unemployable version of himself in Ricky Gervais’ BBC Sitcom ‘Extras’. The role of Godber, originally played by the late Richard Beckinsale, has gone to rising talent Daniel West. So did the stage version keep up with the T.V version ? The stage version was a selection of scenes from the numerous T.V series. Despite a faultless performance from Shaun Williamson and the rest of the cast it shows how good Barker and Beckinsdale played the roles for TV and for that matter the rest of the cast. So the gags were the same as the TV show but I felt some of the magic was lost on the stage show. The Empire was only using the downstairs seating and even though we were quite near the front the performance seemed a bit distant and I thought the sound could have been cranked up a bit. So overall it was nice to have a night out but its hard to carry of such a great T.V comedy on stage. So in the words of the opening scene,

“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 an habitual criminal who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner.

“I therefore feel constrained to sentence you to the maximum term allowed for these offences.  You will go to Prison for five years.

I must say I seem to be a fan of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais the writers of porridge as I have all 3 series of Porridge on DVD and the box set of another of their classic The likely lads and whatever happened to the likely lads. Interesting little story I found about the stars of the likely lads.

The last episode was filmed in 1974, for years it was assumed that Bolam and Bewes were on friends off screen as well as on, a pretence they kept up because their public expected it. It was finally blown in 2005, when the ageing Bewes published his memoirs, in which he revealed that they had comprehensively fallen out 30 years earlier and had not spoken since. He blamed Bolam’s fear of having his privacy invaded and of being eternally typecast.

The final breach, as Bewes told it, occurred after Bolam’s wife, Sue, announced to her husband, while he was driving, that she was pregnant. He almost crashed the car. Bewes repeated this story in a newspaper interview, thinking that it was already public knowledge, then got a frosty reaction when he rang Bolam to forewarn him. “There was this dreadful silence. He put the put the phone down. I called him back, He didn’t answer. He hasn’t spoken to me since,” Bewes claimed.

“He vetoed repeats of The Likely Lads for 18 years,” Bewes told the Daily Mail. “He justified it by saying, ‘It’s a retrospective step in my career.’ But eventually they did show the series again, and I’d love to have asked Jimmy: ‘Did you send the repeat cheque back because of your principles?’ It’s all terribly sad.”

Another thing Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais wrote was Auf Wiedersehen Pet which was the classic TV show in the 80’s revived in 2002. I think that box set will be next on my list. They dont seem to make comedy like they used to, but some of it like mind your language and love thy neighbour is very borderline to say the least.

So a busy weekend coming up with a wedding on Friday night and a footy match against the police again on Sunday so expect some blogs on that. I leave you with a clip from Porridge.


Fay x x


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