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    The Prisoners 

Norman Stanley Fletcher

  • Anti-Hero: Fletcher mostly means well, and isn’t truly a bad man at heart. However, he is a shameless thief and habitual criminal.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To Godber
  • Chronic Villainy: Fletcher is described as an "habitual criminal" in the opening narration, and has spent a large portion of his adult life in prison. Explored more in Going Straight, as Fletcher attempts to "go straight".
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Genre Savvy
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fletcher may be blunt, a criminal and a cheat. However, at heart he truly isn’t that bad a guy. A good example of his kinder side is him keeping quiet about the fact that he was responsible for forcing the troubled Reg Urwin to give up his gun despite the fact such an act could gain him an early pardon, specifically so that Reg would finally get some much needed psychiatric help.
  • Loveable Rogue: Fletcher has been in prison for much of his life, is described as a habitual criminal and is quite immoral. However, he is constantly supportive to the other newer inmates: he helps Godber adapt to his incarceration, made McLaren realise that his temper was causing him most of his problems, and wrote several of their letters to their lovers (including Lukewarm's boyfriend) due to the others were worrying that their imprisonment would wreck their relationships. Likewise, his quick wit provides a lot of the show's humour.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Fletcher is something of a master at manipulation, adapting his tactics depending on his target. He plays on Mr Barrowclough’s gentle nature and sympathy towards the inmates to get him to agree to things he shouldn't, such as letting him run off to town while out on a workday on a supposed mercy mission, when instead he sneaks off to the pub, or getting him extra blankets for his cell. With the Governor, he uses charm, and carefully pays attention to every piece of information he finds out about him. He finds him the perfect sized book to fix his wobbly cabinet distracting him long enough to steal several items off his desk. When it comes to the other inmates, Fletcher just convincingly lies, knowing most of them are too stupid to realize till it’s too late. For example, he gets Ives to believe that "Little Women" was about a tribe of sex starved female Pygmy's in South America, so that Ives would pay Fletcher to reserve the book for him.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Manly Man to Godber's Sensitive Guy
  • Team Dad: Due to most of the prisoners being younger than Fletcher and asking him for advice, Fletcher believes he's the "bleeding father figure". In the final episode, Godber explicitly says he's a "father figure."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With most prisoners, but especially Godber

Lennie Godber

Bernard 'Horrible' Ives

  • Butt-Monkey: Ives often suffers from this, for example getting badly stung by a rare insect while out on a working party, and he almost always brings it on himself.
  • Catchphrase: "'ere listen"
  • Dirty Coward: At the first sign things are getting serious, you can always count on Ives to try to get away.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Justified. None of the inmates like Ives, but they have to put up with him as they are all locked up together.
  • Jerkass: Ives is a lazy, cowardly, snivelling cheat and snitch; as such, he is despised by most of the prison. Even Mackay calls him "Horrible Ives."


  • The Big Guy: In the event anything physical needs to be done, such as dragging Harris to a mock trial or starting a riot, it always falls to McLaren to do it. Not that he complains.
  • Freudian Excuse: McLaren is aggressive and resorts to violence far too quickly. However, his life hasn’t been a happy one, growing up in Scotland as a half-black illegitimate orphan. Fletcher even acknowledges he’s had it “harder than most”.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: McLaren will get aggressive at the slightest provocation. It’s especially bad in his first appearance, where he even grabs Fletcher by the collar for simply knocking into him. Deconstructed, as this trait effectively ruined his life, and is the reason he’s in prison in the first place. Fletcher outright spells out to him how if he turned the other cheek a few more times he wouldn’t be in his present situation, and it isn’t worth sacrificing so much just for his pride. As such he mellows out in later appearances, but it never completely goes away.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When not in a bad mood, Mclaren can be quite friendly and cheerful.
  • Scary Black Man: McLaren really can be intimidating when he’s angry. Most of the other inmates are afraid of him when he gets riled up.
  • Violent Glaswegian: A Scotsman, McLaran is a physical angry young man, who jumps to violence far too quickly.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Fletcher

'Genial' Harry Grout

  • The Dreaded: Grouty is feared throughout the prison, simply because everyone knows displeasing him will end with him sending one of his many heavies after you, or worse. Even Fletcher is terrified of him.
  • Evil Is Bigger: While not huge, at six feet he still towers over the shorter Fletcher and most of the cast.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Grouty is charming, polite, and never even raises his voice. If he’s in a good mood he might even be willing to bribe you. However fail him, anger him or even annoy him, and he’ll happily send his goons in to beat you senseless.
  • Ironic Nickname: There is nothing genial about Harry Grout
  • Knight of Cerebus: Whenever Harry Grout makes an appearance, the stakes get a lot higher, and the show dips into a lot more Black Comedy.
  • London Gangster: Harry Grout is a high up east London mob boss, and is a very powerful man layered deep in organised crime.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: We see Harry Grout only three times, each time in his large, well-furnished cell. Apparently when he was extradited he paid for himself and the policeman to be bumped up to first class.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Do a job for him well enough, and Grouty will likely see you receive a little reward. He didn’t rise so high in organised crime without understanding the importance of business relationships.

Blanco Webb

  • Beware of the Nice Ones: Blanco is one of the gentlest inmates in the entire prison. However it’s revealed in his final appearance that he killed the man who murdered his wife and framed him for the crime years earlier.
  • Cool Old Guy: Blanco is a friendly, cheerful and in many ways a cunning man. He used his prison allotment to secretly make alcohol and he is quite well liked by most of the inmates.
  • Nice Guy: Blanco is among the friendliest and most likable inmates in Slade prison. Trying to cheat him in anyway will earn the scorn of the majority of other inmates.
  • The Old Convict: Blanco has been in Slade prison for over twenty years, partially due to him rejecting parole on the grounds of him protesting his innocence in killing his wife.

'Bunny' Warren

  • The Ditz: Warren isn’t really that bright. He often takes a while to realise he’s even been insulted.
  • Nice Guy: One of the nicest prisoners in Slade Prison.


  • Big Fun: Certainly on the hefty side, yet he is a likable fellow whom the other inmates get along well with.
  • Camp Gay: He is an openly homosexual man, who enjoys sewing, is the Team Mom, and speaks with a bit of lisp.
  • Nice Guy: Even for the cast, while certainly taking his part in Fletcher’s schemes. Lukewarm is generally friendly to everyone, to the point where he doesn’t even antagonise the guards like the others do.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: As one episode shows, Lukewarm is a master of this, managing to pinch Mackay’s wallet in passing and even Mr Barrowclough's watch with nothing more than a friendly two-handed handshake.
  • Team Mom: Lukewarm is pretty kind and nurturing towards the other inmates including sowing his friend’s socks. Fletcher even admits if he had had a mother like Lukewarm he would probably have turned out straight.

Cyril Heslop

  • Bald of Awesome
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappears after the end of the first series
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Cyril is childish, and has a very strange way a looking at the world. He commonly launches into random and often confusing anecdotes that rarely have any relation to what the conversation was about. It’s summed up best by the fact that upon hearing his birthday was April 1st (April Fools’ Day) Fletcher found it very appropriate.
  • The Ditz: Cyril is really quite slow. It often takes him to the end of a conversation to properly process the first thing that was said, often laughing at jokes minutes after they were told or asking questions about subjects the conversation has long moved on from. Mackay describes him as “thick as two short planks.”
  • Manchild


  • Asshole Victim: It’s entirely down to him being so repulsive that Grouty having his thugs torture him stays within in the sphere of Black Comedy.
  • Butt-Monkey: Generally his unpleasant deeds come back to bite him. He was even arrested when he tried to mug a little old lady, only for it to turn out she had a brick in her handbag.
  • Evil Redhead: Harris is a smug, cowardly bully with red hair, who only ever picks on people he’s convinced are weaker than him.
  • Jerkass: Even moreso than his predecessor Ives
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Ives

    The Staff of Slade Prison 

Mr Mackay

  • Anti-Villain: He may be harsh, but he sincerely believes it is in his prisoners' best interests.
  • Deadpan Snarker: For someone so straight faced, Mackay is surprisingly quick and witty.
  • The Dreaded: Amongst the Prison guards, he holds this reputation, as he is easily the harshest and toughest of them all.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: He was an actual drill sergeant in the Argyle and Southern Highlanders before becoming a prison officer. He certainly still acts like he is one, him constantly barking orders at the prisoners.
  • Friendly Enemy
  • Genre Savvy: Although not quite as good as Fletcher.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Mackay is an easy enough man to set off, especially when it involves Fletcher. It’s not helped by Fletcher often intentionally pushing Mackay’s buttons.
  • Hates Everyone Equally:
    I want you to know that I treat you all with equal contempt.
  • Hero Antagonist
  • Inspector Javert: Mackay is only doing his job and is often right in his suspicions that Fletcher is up to his tricks. If he wasn’t so harsh and strict it would be hard to disagree with him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When compared to the more harsh Wainwright
  • Large Ham: He has a habit of shouting the majority of his lines.
  • The Napoleon: Like Fletcher, Mackay is a bit short, especially compared to the much taller Mr. Barrowclough. He will also always make sure to assert his dominance wherever he goes.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Mackay is sometimes supportive of Godber due to his willingness to study and take part in physical activity, unlike Fletcher.
    • Despite claiming to hate all inmates, Mackay is shown to be softer on more well behaved inmates. He for instance was encouraging toward Kegan, even making him a trustee and giving him the job of serving the Governors coffee, despite him murdering his wife.
    • Following Fletcher revealing the existence of an escape tunnel to him and defusing a very tense situation between the inmates and the guards, Mackay gave Fletcher a bottle of Scottish Whiskey as a Christmas present.
    • A literal example is discussed where Mackay stroked the Governor's dog, but hilariously the dog bit Mackay.
  • Properly Paranoid: His suspicions about the inmates are so extreme, that he can’t watch a man tie his shoes without suspecting he’s hiding something in his sock. However, when it comes to Fletcher, he’s nearly always right.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To Fletcher
  • Verbal Tic: Tends to say the word "clear" a lot. Also puts a heavy emphasis on the word "move"
  • Violent Glaswegian: Downplayed. Mackay is never violent with the inmates, but he still has a very aggressive personality and is a Scotsman
  • Worthy Adversary: Fletcher views him as one, its mutual.

Mr Henry Barrowclough

  • Gentle Giant: At 6ft 3, Barrowclough is the tallest prison officer, and easily towers over the rest of the cast. Nevertheless he is an all-around gentle and friendly man.
  • Lovable Coward: Mr. Barrowclough is much more timid than Mr. Mackay, and lets his fear slip out during situations he believes to be tense. He is noticeably worried when Mackay leaves him alone to supervise the prison work party, and he spends his entire encounter with the unstable Reg Urwin trembling. However, he is such a nice and friendly guy it’s hard to dislike him.
  • Nice Guy: Mr. Barrowclough is by any standard a cheerful, friendly and kind hearted man. He even sees prison as more for rehabilitation than punishment.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Barrowclough is a fair and reasonable man, he even tells a new Prison guard not to ask what a new inmate is in for, as that would lead to you judging them for they have done instead of as a person.

Geoffrey Venables

  • Bald of Awesome
  • Lovable Coward: Really, the Governor has no stomach for anything remotely dangerous, but he’s still a fair and reasonable person.
  • Nice Guy: He is a cheerful and friendly man; he and Fletcher manage to strike something of a friendship. He even admits to taking pleasure out of finding the inmates jobs he believes they will enjoy.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: He means well, and tries his best, but really he’s too gentle and easily duped to be an effective governor.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Governor Venables is always willing to give the inmates the benefit of the doubt, is a firm believer in rehabilitation and in hearing both sides of the story.
  • The Teetotaler: In one episode, he refuses alcohol for moral reasons, despite hosting a Christmas sherry party at the end of the previous episode. As such, it distresses him when the inmates manufacture illegal booze around Christmas time.

Mr 'Napper' Wainwright

  • Arch-Enemy: He is this to Fletcher. Wainwright knew Fletcher from his days at Brixton prison and is back to make Fletcher's life a misery
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Even worse than Mackay, Wainwright can’t even talk to the inmates without either insulting them or barking an order.
  • The Dreaded: Quickly gains this reputation wherever, because of how harsh and strict he is.
  • Jerkass: He abuses the prisoners worse than Mr Mackay would ever have done and enjoys doing so.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: During the riot, every prisoner takes pleasure in pelting Wainwright with food
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Admits to outright hating the inmates, being bigoted against numerous groups (liberals, alcoholics, and basically every race under the sun), and considers them scum that he would keep locked up away from society forever if he had the power to.
  • Sadist: He really takes too much pleasure out of bullying and mistreating the inmates. He took noticeable satisfaction out of intentionally stamping on Fletcher's fingers.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Upon arriving, he makes everyone’s life quite a bit harder, even demoting Mr. Barrowclough to a miserable job on the farms. Unlike Mackay, who understands the importance of never pushing the inmates too far, Wainwright has no limitations and delights in their suffering.

     On the Outside 

Ingrid Fletcher

  • Ascended Extra: She's an occasional character in Porridge, but a regular in Going Straight.
  • Genius Ditz: She can be very naive, on one occasion taking her top off when visiting Fletch, but she has crafty moments too, such as her involvement in getting Fletch a weekend of compassionate parole he didn't need. It's not surprising that she and Godber proved an ideal match for each other.

Example of: