'Porridge' ended its final series in 1977 with 'Final Stretch' in which his cell mate Lennie Godber was released from Slade Prison. In 1978, it was Norman Stanley Fletcher's turn to be released from behind bars when writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais engineered a sequel entitled 'Going Straight'.Norman Stanley Fletcher, now 45 years of age, has decided that upon his release from Slade prison that he will be going straight from now on. However, it becomes clear that life on the outside isn't the bed of roses he thought it would be. In the first episode, on the train home, he meets Mr. MacKay who has retired from Slade Prison as well as an old friend and fellow criminal who tries to involve Fletch in his latest fiddle.As if the temptation of crime is not bad enough, Fletcher is also dismayed to return home and find that not only has his wife left him for another man, but his daughter Ingrid ( once again played by Patricia Brake ) has started a relationship with Lennie Godber, who is now working as a long-distance lorry driver. Adding to Fletcher's problems is the lack of interaction with his gormless teenage son Raymond ( played by Nicolas Lyndhurst ), who only ever really speaks to ask what time it is.Eventually, Fletch manages to put his life of crime behind him and secures himself a job as a night watchman at a hotel and in the final episode Ingrid marries Lennie.'Going Straight' was never going to rival 'Porridge' but as a show itself it was great. It was interesting to see what life would be like on the outside for the lovable ex-lag and it also gave Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement a chance to develop the relationship between Ingrid and Lennie ( which began in the 'Heartbreak Hotel' episode of 'Porridge' ). The show is also notable for having given future 'Only Fools & Horses' and 'Goodnight Sweetheart' star Nicolas Lyndhurst early television exposure.Barker and Beckinsale were as brilliant as ever together and Clement and La Frenais still came up with some razor-sharp lines, such as when Ingrid berated Fletcher for making her party dresses out of parachute material when she was a child. Fletcher retorts: ''Well, you would have been alright if you had ever fallen out of a window, wouldn't you?''. Another witty item, excellently delivered by Barker, had Fletch angrily rounding on his daughter after she questioned his ability to hold down his new job - ''I only took this job to prove a point to my family, but obviously now, the point is pointless, so what's the point, eh?''.Depsite being a ratings success, as well as scoring a BAFTA award, 'Going Straight' came off air after only one series. It was heavily slated at the time by the critics, who felt that it proved to be too tall an order and that it came too hot on the heels of 'Porridge'. The series was also further marred with the untimely death of Richard Beckinsale shortly after finishing production of the show. It is still genuinely entertaining in my opinion and for fans of Barker it can't be missed and is miles funnier than Barker's later sitcom 'The Magnificent Evans', which was written by Roy Clarke.In 1979, Fletcher was back, this time back inside for the feature film of 'Porridge'. No mention was made of his time on the outside, nor of Godber's marriage to Ingrid, so we must assume that it was set some time before 'Going Straight'.
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