Porridge cast now – Sudden death, Coronation Street and Big Brother controversy

Classic BBC sitcom Porridge turns 58 years old this week.

The prison based comedy, which starred the late, great Ronnie Barker as prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher, ran between 1974 and 1977 – even landing its own hit film version in 1979.

It starred some of the greatest acting legends, including Richard Beckinsale as Lennie Godber and Brian Wilde as prison guard Mr Barrowclough, as well as cameos from comedy icons including David Jason.

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On the 58th anniversary of the beloved comedy series, Daily Star takes a look at where the cast are now.

Ronnie Barker (Norman Stanley Fletcher)

Ronnie Barker is a TV legend, appearing as prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher in both Porridge and spin-off series, Going Straight.

After landing his first acting roles in theatre productions including Treasure Island and A Midsummer Nights Dream, he landed his big TV break in 1966's The Frost Report.

While working on The Frost Report, he met future Open All Hours co-star David Jason, as well as long time comedy partner Ronnie Corbet, who he appeared alongside in The Two Ronnies.

Following a long acting career, Ronnie revealed on the chat show Wogan in 1985 that he had decided to retire due to health reasons, but made occasional appearances on TV in shows such as The Two Ronnies Sketchbook.

A comedy legend, Ronnie was also awarded a special BAFTA Tribute Award for his contributions to TV in 2004.

Away from the limelight, Ronnie was married to Joy Tubb from 1957, with who he welcomed three children called Larry, Adam and Charlotte.

Like her famous father, Charlotte is also a talented performer and appeared alongside Ronnie in episodes of Open All Hours, as well as crime series Maigret.

However, Ronnie died on October 3, 2005 at the age of 76 years old at Katherine House Hospice in Oxfordshire of heart failure, following a long health battle.

His Two Ronnies co-star and late comedian Ronnie Corbet led the tributes, telling BBC at the time: "Ronnie was pure gold in triplicate – as a performer, a writer and a friend."

He added: "It was 40 years of harmonious joy, nothing but an absolute pleasure. I will miss him terribly."

David Jason, who starred in Open All Hours with Ronnie, also paid tribute saying: "He was a very dear friend and someone for whom I had the greatest respect.

"Working with Ronnie was always a joy and were without doubt some of the best years of my career. The world of entertainment has lost a huge talent."

Richard Beckinsale (Lennie Godber)

Comedy favourite and TV star Richard Beckinsale delighted fans as Lennie Godber, the cellmate of Norman Stanley Fletcher, in Porridge.

After working as an upholsterer at a local bus company as a teenager and a pipe inspector at an ironworks, he was awarded a scholarship to study at RADA – with Richard later appearing in a number of theatre productions.

He later made his TV debut as a policeman in Coronation Street in 1969, before landing his breakthrough in sitcom The Lovers alongside Paula Wilcox.

One of his most famous roles was student doctor Alan in Rising Damp, where he formed a close bond with the late Leonard Rossiter.

Their Rising Damp co-star Don Warrington told Daily Express: "Len really loved Richard.

"He thought he was wonderful. Whatever mood Len was in, Richard would come in and his mood would change."

However, while filming Stephen Frears' film Bloody Kids, Richard began suffering blackouts, dizzy spells and in his final phone call, told friends he was suffering pains in his arms and chest.

The following day, his family and friends were devastated after the actor died in his sleep from a heart attack on March 19, 1979 at the age of just 31 years old.

A post-mortem later revealed he had a congenital heart defect.

Award-winning director Stephen Frears, who was working with Richard at the time of his death, told The Mirror: "It was such a shock.

"He was adorable – a wonderful actor and a very nice man. I was looking forward to directing him in future films.

"I think he would have gone on to be a movie star. He was very good-looking. He had it all."

Away from the limelight, Richard Beckinsale was married twice – first to Margaret Bradley from 1965-1971, with who he had a daughter called Samantha.

He was later married to Judy Loe from 1977, with who he had a second daughter – the Hollywood actress Kate Beckinsale.

Daughter Kate, who was only five years old when her father died, has since become one of the world's biggest acting stars in films including Underworld, Van Helsing and Serendipity.

Sharing a series of photographs of them together on Instagram, to mark the 43rd anniversary of his death, Kate paid an emotional tribute, saying: "I don’t remember what not missing him feels like. It is part of me, like my blood. Always aware of how life can shatter.

"May all the daddies, everywhere, come home safe. July 6 1947-March 19 1979. How much love you brought x."

Christopher Biggins (Lukewarm)

Christopher Biggins rose to fame in Porridge as prisoner Lukewarm.

As well as his roles in seventies sitcom Porridge and drama Poldark, he has toured the pantomime circuit for over 40 years, before deciding to retire in 2017.

That's not all, as he was also crowned King of the Jungle on ITV series I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! in 2007.

It's not just the jungle where Christopher has competed though – he also won Celebrity Come Dine with Me and took part in Celebrity Masterchef.

However, he was asked to leave the Celebrity Big Brother house after a number of controversial comments in 2016, including to fellow housemate Katie Waissel, which led to thousands of complaints to OfCom.

Christopher later apologised for his comments and to Katie, and said during an interview with The Sun that Katie had accepted his apology.

"I found Katie and said 'I am mortified. I would never do anything to upset you. I love you and I'm really sorry,'" he said.

Since 2006 he has been married to his partner Neil Sinclair, and was most recently seen in the TV film Saturday Knight Takeaway.

Sam Kelly (Warren)

Sam Kelly starred as prisoner Warren in Porridge – one of his many comedy roles throughout the decades.

After landing his first acting roles in films Carry On Dick and Carry On Behind, he later joined sitcoms including Allo Allo! and starred opposite the late Dennis Waterman in On The Up.

He also appeared in EastEnders spin-off Pat and Mo at Stan Porter, as well as Midsomer Murders, War And Peace, Inspector Morse, New Tricks, My Family and Agatha Christie's Poirot.

Away from the limelight, Sam was in a long-term relationship with journalist and psychotherapist Grace Pieniazek, but suffered a heartbreaking loss following her death in 2009.

While appearing in musical Wicked as The Wizard in 2013, it was announced that Sam would be leaving the show due to ill health.

One year later on June 14, 2014, Sam died at the age of 70 at a hospice, following a diagnosis with cancer.

Former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, who attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art with Kelly in the 1960s, paid tribute to the actor on Twitter, saying: "Cannot believe that lovely Sam Kelly has died.

"We were at drama school together – lovely, funny, talented chap. So sad."

Tony Osaba (McLaren)

Tony Osaba starred as prisoner Jim McLaren in Porridge, as well as an episode of Going Straight.

Like his fellow Porridge co-stars, Tony has also entered into the world of soaps, appearing twice in Coronation Street as Wesley McGregor in 1982, and as Mike Baldwin's boss Peter Ingram in 1990.

He has since led a long acting career, appearing in TV series including Minder, Bergerac, The Demon Headmaster, The Bill, Tanner and Planetfall, as well as Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks as Superintendent Smith.

In his personal life, Tony is married to wife Sally Osoba.

Brian Wilde (Mr Barrowclough)

Brian Wilde played long-suffering prison guard Mr Barrowclough in Porridge, as well as its hit film version in 1979.

Along with Porridge, one of Brian's most famous roles was as Walter "Foggy" Dewhurst in BBC sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine, before leaving the series in 1997.

His son Andrew, who he welcomed with wife Eva, also worked as a film editor on Last Of The Summer Wine from the early nineties until the sitcom's end in 2010.

Brian was married to Eva Stuart until his death on March 20, 2008, with who he also had a daughter called Sarah.

The actor is reported to have suffered a fall two months earlier in January 2008 and had never recovered, before dying in his sleep at the age of 79 years old.

Following his death, his agent Nick Young paid tribute to him in a statement, saying: "He will be sadly missed by colleagues and family alike. He brought a great deal of laughter into many people's lives."

Last Of The Summer Wine creator Roy Clarke also paid tribute, adding: "He was one of my favourite actors. He was absolutely impeccable with every line.

"You could give him all sorts of convoluted speech and he never made a fluff. A wonderful actor and a very nice man."

Fulton Mackay (Mr Mackay)

In contrast to Brian Wilde's softly spoken Mr Barrowclough, Fulton Mackay played the no-nonsense prison guard Mr Mackay in Porridge and Going Straight.

Like co-stars Richard Beckinsale and Sam Kelly, Fulton also trained at RADA before landing theatre roles with The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Along with Porridge, he also appeared in TV series The Avengers, Coronation Street, Z-Cars, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Doctor Who, as well as Jim Henson children's series Fraggle Rock.

He made his last appearance in Lovejoy, before dying on June 6, 1987 at the age of 64 years old from stomach cancer.

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