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  • In the May issue of Best of British

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Best of British is the UK’s premier nostalgia magazine covering every aspect of life from the 1930s to today.

Every issue is packed with features that celebrate classic entertainment, transport, food and drink, and the great British countryside. Our readers are at the heart of what we do. As well as taking their suggestions on board, their voices are heard through our Yesterday Remembered memoir section, along with the Postbag and Question Time pages.

We hope you like reading our magazine as much as we love compiling it. In the meantime here is this month’s letter from our Editor, Simon

“What, from here?”
With so many great comedies continuing to be produced in this country, it simply isn’t possible for me to pick a favourite show. But ask me to come up with a Top 10, then Porridge would certainly be somewhere towards the top of that list.

The much-loved sitcom was truly Ronnie Barker’s finest hour, showing off a talent that had been schooled in weekly rep. While the likes of Open All Hours and The Magnificent Evans at times feel like extended Two Ronnies’ sketches, Porridge is in a world of its own.

I’ve said it before but I still find it difficult to believe that Norman Stanley Fletcher is played by the same chap who made us laugh through sketches such as Swedish Made Simple, Pismronunciation and Round of Drinks.

But for all of Barker’s immense talent, we mustn’t forget the work of writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who crafted the believable world of HMP Slade and its inhabitants, as well as other quality series such as Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

This issue, we get to speak to Dick Clement, one half of that writing powerhouse, about those shows mentioned above, and how as a result of Porridge, he and La Frenais got to live and work in Hollywood. Today, the pair continue to write comedies and TV screenplays together, and are in much demand as “script doctors”, beefing up average scripts to create box office gold.

A world away from Slade prison perhaps, but then again, they worked on Pearl Harbor – a film starring Richard Beckinsale’s daughter Kate – and Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery’s 1980s James Bond comeback, which “recycles” a familiar line from the first episode of Porridge.

It’s a great line and you can see why its writers would want to reuse it. And as to who gave the better performance of the line, then it’s safe to say that nobody did it better than Ronnie Barker.