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Prisoner legend Patrick McGoohan obituary

The Prisoner

THE PRISONER has never seemed more appropriate to the times we live in than today.

THE PRISONER has been described as the greatest TV programme of them all. A big statement, but not one to be dismissed out of hand. Patrick McGoohan had really been a prisoner of DANGERMAN. This was a long-running successful series from the early to mid-'60s. It was felt that the Prisoner was really the John Drake character from DANGERMAN. Though under copyright the name could not be used in THE PRISONER, so No. 6 emerged, though the numbers idea was well-suited anyway to the idea of the series.

THE PRISONER was the ultimate protest series. To make a protest against bureaucrats entertaining was not the show's smallest achievement. Especially over 17 episodes.

Some of the most evocative images came by accident. ROVER was really a meteorological balloon, after the more sophisticated deadly guardian of potential village escapees was not ready in time when production was due to start. McGoohan happened to see one in the sky, consulted with production manager, Bernard Williams, and the rest was....

The sets were another notable feature. Still looking hi-tech in a cold, but colourful way. A psychologically calm-inducing torture room would sum up the office of No. 2. The computerised Control Room with all-seeing eye was the Orwellian nightmare in vision.

In contrast there were the simplistic taxis and the unisex horizontally-striped tops, and canvas shoes. The penny farthing bicycle image at the end of each episode summed up a place that despite its exotic technology was really living in a brutal, dominating past.

Epic episodes included ARRIVAL, when No. 6 sets out his stall; SCHIZOID MAN, where No. 6 forces his double to crack; THE GENERAL, where No. 6 wrecks a computer by asking it, "Why?" HAMMER INTO ANVIL was the favourite of the underdog. Here, No. 6 shows that to deal with a bullying bureaucrat requires guile. You can't work on their soul, only their mind. Minus another No. 2. FALL OUT was the mysterious ending. McGoohan had said, "I wanted to have controversy, arguments, discussion - people waving fists..." Unfortunately for Pat, he, personally, got attacked at his Mill Hill home, and subsequently left for the U.S. The picture of the little butler, Angelo, being dragged across a busy London street by No. 6 was high comedy, as high as the dramatic statement of trying to find the boss, who is really oneself. 'All You Need Is Love' and Carmen Miranda featuring in the last episode summed up the quintessential eccentricity.

Filmed on 35mm film, in colour, THE PRISONER was Script Editor's George Markstein's creation, with McGoohan's "own ideas about life". The Italianite village in Portmeirion, Wales, was beautiful and deceptively serene for the horrors within. McGoohan again, "The Village is our little world. Big Brother is here."

This Paul Rance article is amended from an article which originally appeared in issue 2 of EASTERN RAINBOW, in 1993. For more news of this publication, and other PEACE & FREEDOM PRESS publications, see the bottom of this page.


"Has one the right to tell a man what to think, how to behave, to coerce others? Has one the right to be an individual?" - PATRICK McGOOHAN.


Some more Prisoner Facts

12 million watched the original series in Britain.

The Producer was DAVID TOMBLIN.

Among the other famous names who appeared in the series were NIIGEL STOCK (No. 6 in episode 13), PAUL EDDINGTON, ALEXIS KANNER, and ROSALIE CRUTCHLEY.

ANGELO MUSCAT was the only person to appear in every episode, playing the mysterious butler.

THE PRISONER was originally screened on ITV from 29/9/67 - 2/2/68 (U.S. 1/6/68 - 11/9/68).

Prisoner Penny Farthing

Illustrations, The Prisoner graphic, and image manipulations on this page by Paul Rance


"The Prisoner captured its time perfectly - it took the restlessness of the late '60s and turned its distaste for authority into a work of art."

The Prisoner Logo

Patrick McGoohan As Number 6
PATRICK McGOOHAN/No. 6

'The Prisoner [40th Anniversary Special Edition] [1967] [Amazon.co.uk DVD]'
The Prisoner [40th Anniversary Special Edition] [1967] [Amazon.co.uk DVD] ~ Patrick McGoohan

'The Prisoner - Complete Series Megaset (40th Anniversary Edition) [Amazon.com DVD]'
The Prisoner - Complete Series Megaset (40th Anniversary Edition) [Amazon.com DVD]


"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own." - No. 6.


Surreal Prisoner

THE PRISONER NUMBER TWOs (episodes in which they appeared are in brackets)

GUY DOLEMAN/GEORGE BAKER (1)
LEO McKERN (2, 16, 17)
COLIN GORDON (3, 6)
ERIC PORTMAN (4)
ANTON ROGERS (5)
MARY MORRIS (8)
PETER WYNGARDE (9)
PATRICK CARGILL (10)
DERREN NESBITT/ANDRE VAN GYSEGHEM (11)
JOHN SHARPE (12)
CLIFFORD EVANS (13)
DAVID BAUER (14)
KENNETH GRIFFITH (15)
There was no No. 2 in episode 7......as such.

Number 2 Leo McKern
LEO McKERN -
played No. 2 in three episodes


EPISODES

1. ARRIVAL
2. THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN
3. A, B, AND C
4. FREE FOR ALL
5. THE SCHIZOID MAN
6. THE GENERAL
7. MANY HAPPY RETURNS
8. DANCE OF THE DEAD
9. CHECKMATE
10. HAMMER INTO ANVIL
11. IT'S YOUR FUNERAL
12. A CHANGE OF MIND
13. DO NOT FORSAKE ME OH MY DARLING
14. LIVING IN HARMONY
15. THE GIRL WHO WAS DEATH
16. ONCE UPON A TIME
17. FALL OUT

PRISONER GLAMOUR GIRLS INCLUDED

VIRGINIA MASKELL
NADIA GRAY
JANE MERROW
NORMA WEST
ANNETTE ANDRE
WANDA VENTHAM
ANGELA BROWNE
ZENA WALKER
VALERIE FRENCH
JUSTINE LORD


Be Seeing These - fine Prisoner sites

The Prisoner Appreciation Society (Six of One)
The Prisoner - Number Six
RetroWeb Classic Television: The Prisoner

Science Friction
Science Friction ~ A paperback anthology of poetry, prose and art available from Peace & Freedom Press

 

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