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The Prisoner (1967)

This section is a complete guide to the original cult classic 1960's TV drama - The Prisoner.

Click on the items below to find out more about the world of Number Six and The Village.

Up until the last disappointing installment, Clan Murphy has been pretty staunch Harry Potter supporters. The movie versions have been entertaining but uneven, and not least because of the woeful, woeful miscasting of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. The guy can be fantastic (check out his good ol’ boy Big Tobacco CEO in The Insider), but since the third Potter movie, he’s been a blight on an otherwise impressive landscape of British thespians (Alan Rickman, Ken Branagh, Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, et. al) doing their level best to bring Potter to onscreen life.

Gambon, cast after the sad death of original Dumbledore, Richard Harris, was unfit to tie the shoes of Harris, much less step into them. Instead of the unflappable, benignant, kindly old professor of the books (whose dignified self-confidence comes from the fact that he’s the world’s greatest wizard) we get, as incarnated by the grumpy, goofy Gambon, a Dumbledore who is short-tempered (he nearly strangles Harry in Goblet of Fire), fidgety, easily disconcerted, and basically out-to-lunch. Gambon has claimed in interviews that he sticks on a beard and plays himself.

Which makes a recent discovery all the more painful in the “Oh, what might have been” way. As the Dude says, “new information has come to light, man.” I came across this info via Jim Emerson’s blog. He’s the editor of Rogerebert.com, and mentioned — in passing while blogging on the whole “gay Dumbledore” uproar — that the part of Dumbledore had originally been offered to Patrick McGoohan, even before Harris.

This was news to me. McGoohan was the star, and frequent writer/director, of the classic cult TV series, The Prisoner, a long-time inclusion in the Murphy pantheon of Greatness. It was his brainchild, and boy does that guy have some brain behind his prominent forehead. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Brilliant show, way ahead of its time, and for my money the single best series ever to appear on TV.

But I digress. McGoohan, with his twinkling blue eyes and air of quiet authority, would have made a wonderful Dumbledore. Not so much the kindly old soul Harris portrayed, but a man whose gentle exterior hides a razor-sharp intelligence and unprecedented wizarding power. I don’t know why McGoohan turned down the part (he was also offered the lead in an obscure little spy series, James Bound or James Blonde, or something), but the man clearly cares little for the spotlight, and I admire him for it. Still, considering we have to suffer through two more Gambon-starring Potter movies, I can’t help but wonder what could have been…

Read more...

Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man or Prisoner?, a new biography by Roger Langley has been released, featuring over 450 rare and exclusive photographs and a whopping 340 pages about the great man!

Patrick McGoohan changed the face of television with his landmark series The Prisoner. Many TV series since have cited The Prisoner as an inspiration, including Lost. However, there is a lot more to McGoohan than The Prisoner. This renowned actor has an impressive CV of stage, screen and TV productions, and is often declared to be one of the best actors to have ever come out of Britain. Yet, his obsessive protection of his privacy and the often conflicting and provocative remarks made to the press over the years have created a need to set the record straight. This first ever biography of McGoohan does just that. It chronicles a career that begins on the Sheffield stage and ends with international stardom.

The book details McGoohan’s classic television series Danger Man and The Prisoner; it explains why McGoohan was top choice for James Bond, and why he turned down the role ; it explores the impact he had on both actors and directors he has worked with; and highlights McGoohan’s friendship with Peter Falk (who has written the foreword for this book) which has gained him two Emmy Awards.

In Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man or Prisoner?, Roger Langley unravels the myths, separating the man from his on-screen creations. McGoohan attracts thousands of admirers around the globe and this book reveals why. Roger Langley has been a principal organiser of the Appreciation Society for The Prisoner during its thirty year life. He has written The Prisoner in Portmeirion (1999), The Prisoner Series Guide (2005) and the latest US Prisoner DVD Megaset booklet. Langley has produced numerous periodicals devoted to The Prisoner and continues to publish the Appreciation Society's magazines.

“This must be for McGoohan fans - that most eagerly awaited of all books... a biography... and what a biography! This well structured work glitters, every page well composed, literate, and absorbing, every fact meticulously researched and detailed. Does this work do justice to this most private and retiring of actors? The answer is an emphatic 'Yes' ... McGoohan will even be quietly pleased. Believe me, this is a book that you'll certainly be reaching for, again and again. Don't think twice.” So spake David Barrie, Founder of the Prisoner Appreciation Society.

Read more...

This weekend, the American Civil Liberties Union would like to throw a hood over your head and haul you to an undisclosed movie theater to see Rendition, director Gavin Hood's fictional treatment of the U.S. "extraordinary rendition" and torture-by-proxy practices. The irony is that, according to the slams and pans dished out by Rotten Tomatoes' critics, the film itself is a form of torture-by-proxy. Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep -- oh my, I do feel like I'm drowning. This isn't to make light of the issue; it does need to be seriously debated in the public sphere. I just prefer my human-rights violations without all the star-studded sugar.

So, when the ACLU comes knocking on your door, you can tell them, "No, thanks. I'll take my torture at home, please."

For your home-viewing pleasure, here are some other recommended renditions of the rendition theme:

The Prisoner
In the 1960s, England's most expensive television series to date was itself based around the concept of rendition. Patrick McGoohan, the original British hard-arse, plays a no-named secret service agent, who, to the rhythm of a rousing drum beat, slams his resignation letter on the desk of his bureau chief. He goes home, packs his suitcase full of travel brochures, and is promptly sleeping-gassed and kidnapped. He wakes up in "The Village," a dystopian community for individuals with sensitive information, located god-knows-where. He's assigned a number, Six, and spends the rest of the series (unsuccessfully) attempting to escape and (successfully) persevering under bizarre forms of torture and interrogation perpetrated by the The Village mayor Number Two. It's a long series that spirals into annoyingly self-indulgent surreality in the final two episodes, so I'm not going to recommend you watch the whole thing at once. Instead, grab the first episode, "Arrival," (usually available for free rental at your local library) plus any of the next five or six, and then skip to episode 11, "It's Your Funeral," which is my absolute favorite, if only because it features the trampoline-boxing sport of "Kosho." You'll want to see this series regardless of your interest in rendition since Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins) is hoping to direct the film adaptation.

Chronicle of an Escape (2007)
If Rendition is ACLU's pick, then Chronicle is Amnesty International's. According to Amazon, this film (Cronica de Una Fuga, in its native Spanish) is indeed available on DVD, but you'll probably need to make the extra trip to the independent video store, you know, the one with all the Kieslowski films that you've always meant to watch. Set in Argentina during the 1970s military junta, the film follows a young, innocent soccer player who is accused of being a member of a radical guerilla organization. The reason he's been identified as a radical is because the junta is torturing other radicals and tortured people will basically say anything to stop being tortured, even if means ratting out a guy who had nothing to do with it. The soccer player, Claudio, is kidnapped by the Argentinian secret police (dressed and mustachioed like Starsky & Hutch extras) and spirited off to an ominous Amityville-like horror house, where he and a dozen other innocent men are tortured, beaten, interrogated, starved until they lose all semblance of hope and humanity. But, as the title implies, this is a film with a happy ending, where one last burst of desperate bravery carries them to freedom. In many ways, it feels like the film Alive, in part because of the desperation, but also because, yeah, it is set in Latin America. Unlike Rendition, this is not only a true story, but based on public testimony given by the characters after the junta was overthrown.

Read more...

 

The car used in The Prisoner was a Lotus Seven series II, which was available as a kit or assembled (hence why the Prisoner claimed he built it in Many Happy Returns).

KAR 120CThe original KAR 120C Lotus (a demo model series II) was used and eventually sold to an Australian.

When "Fall Out" was filmed, a quick mock up from a series III was used. Lotus, desiring to terminate production of the car after their failed attempt at marketing a series IV, sold all existing kits, molds, manufacturing rights, and the name "Super Seven" to Caterham Cars, their biggest dealer at the time. Caterham went back to the series III shape, and have been developing and manufacturing the Super Seven ever since.

If you are seriously considering purchasing a Super Seven, it is important that you find a reputable source. There are at least two such sources in the U.S. which will provide you with an assembled vehicle that you can register in most states as a composite or kit car.

Pontiac Sports Cars
467 Auburn Avenue Pontiac,
MI 48342-3213
(810) 335-1511
 
Sevens and Elans Mr. Chris Tchornicki
248 Hampshire Street Cambridge,
MA 02139
(617) 497-7777
 
Caterham itself can provide you with additional information. The address of their sales office is:
 
Check out their website:
http://www.caterham.co.uk

Seven House
Town End
Caterham Hill
Surrey
CR3 5UG
UK 01883 346666

The cost is around £17,000. There are three basic models and numerous options. Delivery is about 6 months. The car looks very much the same as it does in the show, but the top of the range now has a 2 litre 185 BHP Vauxhall engine, 5 speed gearbox and De-dion suspension.

The car is extremely fast (0-60 in 4 seconds), and can be painted any colour you like. An interesting side note is that the car DID have a problem history of overheating in traffic, just like the Prisoner mentions in "Many Happy Returns".

While the Caterham Seven is clearly the most accurate replica of the original Lotus 7, a number of UK Kit Car manufacturers produce very close facsimiles.

Some of the replicas are: Westfield SE/SEi/SEiW Dax Rush Robin Hood S6/S7 Tiger 6 Vindicator Sprint (including engine and transmission) are available from �4999.99 (for a basic 1600cc SE) and complete cars, factory-built, start at around � 13,000. (Factory built models are the ZEi and the ZEiW.)

It is also possible to buy the car at various build stages. It too, suffers from overheating in traffic. Build quality is usually good, especially on factory built cars.

Information and sales :
Westfield Sports Cars Ltd.
Unit 1 Gibbons Industrial Park Dudley Road
Kingswinford West Midlands
DT6 8XF
UK Phone: (+44) 01384 400077

Main Cast (in credits order)

Patrick McGoohan:- Number Six
Rover in crowdAngelo Muscat:- The Butler
Peter Swanwick:- The Supervisor (7 episodes)
Leo McKern:- Number Two ('The Chimes of Big Ben,' 'Once Upon a Time,' 'Fall Out')
Alexis Kanner:- Number Eight ('Living in Harmony'), Number Forty-Eight ('Fall Out') & Photographer ('The Girl Who Was Death')
Colin Gordon:- Number Two ('A, B, and C,' 'The General')
rest of cast listed alphabetically
George Baker :- The New Number Two (episode "Arrival")
Guy Doleman:- Number Two (episode "Arrival, The")
Paul Eddington:- Cobb (episode "Arrival, The")
Kenneth Griffith :- Number Two ('The Girl Who Was Death'), President ('Fall Out')
Fenella Fielding:- Loudspeaker Announcer (uncredited) (voice)
George Markstein:- Man behind desk in title sequence (uncredited)
Robert Rietty:- Number 2 in title sequence (7 episodes) (uncredited) (voice)
 
Throughout the 17 episodes various famous faces pop-up. This is a complete list of the guest appearances in The Prisoner. Some you�ll know, most you won�t!
 
"Arrival"
Jack Allen:- Doctor
George Baker:- New Number 2
Christopher Benjamin :- Labour Exchange Manager
Peter Brace :- 1st Guardian
Guy Doleman :- Number 2
Paul Eddington :- Cobb
David Garfield (II) :- Orderly
Oliver MacGreevy :- Gardener/Electrician
Virginia Maskell :- The Woman
Keith Peacock :- 2nd Guardian
Frederick Piper :- Ex-Admiral
Stephanie Randall :- Maid
Denis Shaw :- Shopkeeper
Patsy Smart :- Waitress
Barbara Yu Ling :- Taxi Driver

"The Chimes of Big Ben"
David Arlen:- Karel
Hilda Barry :- No. 38
Christopher Benjamin :- Number Two's Assistant
Finlay Currie :- The General
Nadia Gray:- Nadia
Lucy Griffiths :- Third Judge
Jack Le White :- First Judge
John Maxim :- Second Judge
Leo McKern :- Number 2
Frederick Piper :- Ex-Admiral (uncredited)
Kevin Stoney :- Colonel J.
Richard Wattis :- Fotheringay

"A, B, & C"
Sheila Allen:- Number 14
Peter Bowles:- A
Peter Brayham :- Thug
Annette Carell :- B (as Annette Carrell)
Georgina Cookson :- Woman at Party
Bill Cummings :- Henchman
Colin Gordon :- Number 2
Katherine Kath :- Madame Engadine
Bettina Le Beau :- Maid at party (as Bettine Le Beau)
Lucille Soong :- Flower Girl
Terry Yorke :- Thug

"Free for All"
Kenneth Benda :- Supervisor
George Benson:- Labor Exchange Manager
Harold Berens :- Reporter/Number One Hundred Thirteen
Peter Brace :- 1st Mechanic
John Cazabon :- Man In Cave
Holly Doone :- Waitress
Rachel Herbert:- Number 58/The Real Number Two
Alf Joint :- 2nd Mechanic
Eric Portman:- Number 2

"The Schizoid Man"
Earl Cameron:- Supervisor
Gay Cameron :- Number Thirty Six
Gerry Crampton :- First Guardian
Pat Keen :- Nurse
Patrick McGoohan :- Curtis/Number Twelve (uncredited)
Jane Merrow :- Alison/Number Twenty Four
David Nettheim :- Doctor
Dinny Powell :- Second Guardian (as Dinney Powell)
Anton Rodgers :- Number Two

"The General"
Peter Bourne :- Projection Operator
John Castle:- Number Twelve
Ian Fleming :- Man at Cafe/First Man In Top Hat
Colin Gordon :- Number Two
Peter Howell:- Professor
George Leech :- First Corridor Guard
Al Mancini :- Announcer
Betty McDowall :- Professor's Wife
Michael Miller:- Man In Buggy
Norman Mitchell:- Mechanic
Conrad Phillips:- Doctor
Keith Pyott :- Waiter/Number Thirty Six

"Many Happy Returns"
Grace Arnold :- Maid
Nike Arrighi :- Gypsy Girl
Richard Caldicot :- Commander
Patrick Cargill :- Thorpe
Dennis Chinnery :- Gunther
Georgina Cookson :- Mrs. Butterworth/Number Two
Jon Laurimore :- Ernst
George Markstein :- Man in office (uncredited)
Donald Sinden :- The Colonel
Larry Taylor:- Gypsy Man
Brian Worth:- Group Captain

"Dance of the Dead"
William Lyon Brown :- Second Doctor
Denise Buckley :- Maid/Number Thirty Four
Bee Duffell :- Psychiatrist
John Frawley:- Flowerman
Lucy Griffiths :- Lady In Corridor
Duncan Macrae :- Doctor/Number Forty (as Duncan MacRae)
George Merritt:- Postman
Aubrey Morris :- Town Crier
Mary Morris:- Number Two
Michael Nightingale :- Night Supervisor/Number Forty Five
Patsy Smart :- Night Maid/Number Twenty One
Norma West :- Observer/Girl Bo-Peep
Alan White (III) :- Roland Walter Dutton/Number Forty Two

"Checkmate"
George Coulouris :- Chessmaster/Man With The Stick
Rosalie Crutchley :- The Queen/Number Eight
Basil Dignam :- Supervisor/Number Fifty Six
Terence Donovan:- Sailor of ship, M.S. Polatska
Bee Duffell :- Second Psychiatrist
Romo Gorrara :- Second Searchlight Tower Guard
Patricia Jessel :- First Psychiatrist
Shivaun O'Casey :- Nurse
Victor Platt :- Assistant Supervisor/Number Two Hundred Forty Nine
Ronald Radd :- Rook/Number Fifty Three
Geoffrey Reed :- Skipper of ship, M.S. Polatska
Denis Shaw :- Shopkeeper
Danvers Walker :- Painter/Number Forty Two
Peter Wyngarde :- Number 2

"Hammer Into Anvil"
Margo Andrew :- Shop Kiosk Girl
Derek Aylward :- Replacement Supervisor/Number Sixty
Patrick Cargill :- Number Two
Jack Cooper (II) :- First Guardian (as Jackie Cooper)
Arthur Gross :- Control Room Operator
Fred Haggerty :- Second Guardian
Hilary Heath :- Suicide Victim/Number Seventy Three
Basil Hoskins :- Number Two's Assistant/Number Fourteen
George Leach :- Fourth Guardian
Victor Maddern :- Bandmaster
Eddie Powell :- Third Guardian
Norman Scace :- Director of Psychiatric Department/Number Two Hundred Forty Nine
Susan Sheers :- Female Code Expert
Victor Woolf :- Village Shopkeeper Assistant

"It's Your Funeral"
Annette Andre :- Watchmaker's Daughter
Grace Arnold :- Old Woman/Number Thirty Six
Michael Bilton:- Master of Ceremonies Councillor
Mark Burns:- Number Two's Assistant
Gerry Crampton :- Kosha Game Opponent
Mark Eden:- Number One Hundred
Charles Lloyd Pack :- Artist
Martin Miller :- Watchmaker/Number Fifty Four
Derren Nesbitt :- New Number Two
Andre Van Gyseghem :- Retiring Number Two
Wanda Ventham :- Computer Attendant
Arthur White:- Stall Holder

"A Change of Mind"
Michael Billington :- Second Woodland Man
Kathleen Breck :- Number Forty Two
Angela Browne :- Number Eighty Six
Michael Chow:- Second Member of Social Group
Joseph Cuby :- First Member of Social Group
June Ellis :- Number Forty Eight
John Hamblin :- 1st Woodland Man
Thomas Heathcote :- Lobo Man
Michael Miller:- Confessor/Number Ninety Three
Bartlett Mullins :- Committee Chairman/Number Eighteen
George Pravda :- Doctor
John Sharp:- Number Two (as John Sharpe)

"Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling”
Fredric Abbott :- Potter
James Bree :- Villiers
Clifford Evans :- Number Two
Patrick Jordan:- Danvers
Gertan Klauber :- Cafe Waiter
Lloyd Lamble :- Stapleton
Henry B. Longhurst :- Old Guest (as Henry Longhurst)
John Nolan:- Young Guest
Hugo Schuster :- Prof. Seltzman
Nigel Stock:- The Colonel/Number Six
Danvers Walker :- First New Man
Zena Walker :- Janet
John Wentworth:- Sir Charles
Lockwood West :- Camera Shop Manager

"Living in Harmony"
Michael Balfour :- Will
David Bauer :- The Judge/Number Two
Leslie Crawford :- Second Gunman (as Les Crawford)
Bill Cummings :- Second Horseman
Monti DeLyle :- Town Dignitary
Eddie Eddon :- Third Horseman
Max Faulkner :- First Horseman
Valerie French :- Kathryn Johnson/Number Twenty Two
Alexis Kanner :- The Kid/Number Eight
Frank Maher:- Third Gunman
Bill Nick :- First Gunman
Gordon Sterne :- Bystander
Gordon Tanner:- Town Elder
Larry Taylor:- Mexican Sam

"The Girl Who Was Death"
Christopher Benjamin :- Potter
Harold Berens :- Boxing Master of Ceremonies
Michael Brennan:- Killer Karminski
John Drake:- Bowler
Max Faulkner :- Scots Napoleon
Joe Gladwin :- Yorkshire Napoleon
Kenneth Griffith:- Schnipps/Number Two
Alexis Kanner :- Photographer/Chief's voice (uncredited)
Justine Lord :- Sonia/Number Eight
John :- Welsh Napoleon

"Once Upon a Time"
John Cazabon :- Umbrella Man
Leo McKern :- Number 2

"Fall Out"
Kenneth Griffith:- President
Alexis Kanner :- Number Forty Eight
Patrick McGoohan :- Number One (uncredited)
Leo McKern :- Former Number 2
Michael Miller:- Delegate

The title sequence of The Prisoner is very distinctive and tells the pre-story of how Number 6 came to be in the Village. It was used on all but 2 of the 17 episodes. Ron Grainer composed the theme tune after versions by Robert Farnon and Wilfred Josephs were rejected. Grainer is also known for his themes for Steptoe and Son and Doctor Who.

Click on the link below to view the opening sequence video of The Prisoner in full.

You require
Windows Media Player to view the video, download the latest plug-ins if you are having problems.

 

The brown and orange awning on the sign posts, mini mokes, parasols, newspaper stands and other Village paraphernalia is very distinctive. It is seen in almost all episodes but is most evident in episodes with a lot of time spent in the Village.

Should you wish to re-create it the colours are:

Orange: FF9900
Brown: CC6600
White: #FFFFFF
Black: #000000

  Labour Exchange
 
 

Sign for the Labour Exchange with Number 6 entering on the right.

 
  The Cafe  
 
 

Sign for The Cafe as seen in Arrival.

The Prisoner is very quotable. These are some of the more famous quips from the show.

Number 6Number 6: I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or Numbered. My life is my own. I resign!

Number 6: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Village.
Number 6: What do you want?
Number 2: We want information.
Number 6: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling, we want information, information information.
Number 6: You won't get it.
Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number 6: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Number 6: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are Number 6.
Number 6: I am not a Number, I am a free man!
Number 6: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are, Number 6.
Number 6: I am not a Number. I am a person.

Number 6: Everybody votes for a dictator.

The Admiral: We're all pawns.

Charles Curtis: The only trouble with science is that it can be perverted.

The Professor's Wife: One learns only when the mind wants to and not at set times.
Number 6: I am not a Number. I am a person.

Labour Exchange Manager: Good, you are honest. That is of use. Honesty attracts confidence, and confidence is our core of our business. See how honest I am being with you?

Number 6: Bad habit of mine, playing with lighters. I'll probably start a fire one day.

The Professor's Wife: Construction arises out of the ashes of destruction.

Engadine: Men always evade questions. All my husbands did.

Number 6: If I knew where I was sailing from I could calculate where I was sailing to.
Number 2 is describing the Village.
Number 2: What in fact has been created? An international community. A perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realise that they're looking into a mirror, they'll see that this is the pattern for the future.
Number 6: The whole world as the Village?
Number 2: That is my dream. What's yours?
Number 6: To be the first man on the moon.


Number 6: Last week, Number 14 was an old lady in a wheelchair. You're new here, and you're one of them.

Number 6: I also have a problem. I'm not sure which side runs this Village.

Villager: [first time line is spoken] Be seeing you.

Villager: It's very cosmopolitan. You never know who you'll meet next.

Number 2: [Shouting] Why, why, why did you resign?

Number 6: Be seeing you.

Number 6: Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.

Number 48: Thanks for the trip, dad.

The Prisoner has been referenced, featured and spoofed many times in films and other TV shows.

Homer and Number 6Referenced

Columbo: Identity Crisis (1975) (TV)
Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The (1988)
Killing Zoe (1994)
Double Team (1997)
Truman Show, The (1998)
Alan Davies: Urban Trauma (1998) (TV)
Fight Club (1999)McGoohan in The Simpsons
High Fidelity (2000)
Cast Away (2000)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Matrix Reloaded, The (2003)
The Simpsons (Various epidodes)

Featured

Forty Years of Science-Fiction Television (1990) (V)
Matrix, The (1999)
100 Greatest TV Moments, The (1999) (TV)
100 Greatest TV Characters, The (2001) (TV)
Kate & Leopold (2001)


Has been considered a sequel to:

"Danger Man" (1960)
"Danger Man" (1964)
Koroshi (1966) (TV)


Spoofed In

Laughing Prisoner, The (1987) (TV)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
The Simpsons: Various Episodes (TV)

 

An early call from Number 2 brings breakfast on a tray, carried by Number 58.

Today is the start of the election campaign. The citizens make their choice every twelve months, is Number 6 going to run? Like blazes, the first chance he gets! But Number 2 means 'run for office', his for instance. Number 6 accuses him of having a delicate sense of humour.

Free for All'Humour is the very essence of a democratic society' returns Number 2. Number 6 decides to 'run for office', well he might as well while he's waiting. And if he wins Number 1 may no longer be a mystery to him! Both candidates make their first speeches from a balcony of the Gloriette, and Number 6 receives much applause and cheering from the citizens and at one point is showered in confetti. A taxi and driver is made available to Number 6 for the duration of the election. Number 58 is the driver, but Number 6 is far from happy, as she doesn't speak English!

Number 6 is expected to attend the dissolution of the out going Council at the Town Hall. On the way Number 6 is questioned by a member of the press for the Tally Ho newspaper.

The reporter asks several questions, and when Number 6 replies with 'no comment' the reporter writes down answers to his own questions! In the Council chamber of the Town Hall, Number 6 stands before the Number 2 and the Council members. The final resolution of this out going Council is a vote of thanks to Number 6. It is carried unanimously and there is no further business at this time.

Number 6 is allowed to ask questions, like 'Who do you represent?' 'To what place or country do you owe allegiance?' 'Whose side are you on?' And further, accusing to proceedings to be a farce, the village to be a 20th century Bastile! Accusing the member's of the Council as being nothing more than a bunch of 'Tailors dummies' and 'brainwashed imbeciles!'

For this Number 6 has to face 'The Test', this in order to make sure that his intention to run for office was genuine. During this truth test the Labour Exchange manager is warned 'not to damage the tissue!'

Number 6 then leaves the Labour Exchange in something of a brainwashed state of mind, and the mass of the citizens appear to be on his side, ready to vote for him and only him!

But the effect of this brainwashing does not lasting it soon begins to wear off as Number 6 makes a bid for freedom, via a speed boat. Over powering the tow men on board and setting off for the open sea. Only to be pursued by Number 2 in a Helicopter and have his impromptu escape attempt thwarted by the village guardian.

After further conditioning Number 6 returns to the election with renewed vigour. In his speech from the Stone boat, Number 6 promises the citizens 'every conceivable, civilised amenity within their boundary'. 'They can enjoy themselves and they will. Apply to him and it will be easier and better!'

Evening comes and Number 6 is in the 'Cat & Mouse Club' wanting an alcoholic drink. But only non-alcoholic Gin, Whisky, Vodka are served here.

Number 58 knows where he can get a drink, in 'The therapy Zone', a cave on the edge of the village. Here Number 2 is quietly getting drunk, as 'The Brewer' brews his brew. Number 6 states that he wants a double, without water and takes a seat opposite Number 2 who makes a toast, 'to hell with the village!' But this is only a front, Number 2 is not an alcoholic, and Number 6 has only received a drug in his drink, exact proportions to carry him through the elections.

Election day arrives, all the speeches have been made, and now it up to the electorate to decide. Number 6 is elected with a unanimous majority, as the new Number 2 and is duly taken to the Green Dome by Number 2 and Number 58. If the new Number 2 wants to know anything, 'just press a button'. Left alone in the office of Number 2, Number 58 and the 'new' Number 2 {Number 6}, begins to press buttons on the control panel of the desk. Pictures appear on the wall screen, chairs rise up through the floor and all at the touch of a button!

Then comes a high pitched sound, and colourful lights appear on the screen. Number 2 comes into an immediate trance and is put facing the screen by Number 58, who then turns him away and slaps his face over and over. This slaps Number 2 on the face several times, snapping Number 2 out of his trance like state. 'This is their chance' he shouts into two telephones, his voice bellowing out across the village via the public address system.

'This is our chance, obey me and be free. Listen to me you are free, free, free to go, free to go'. But the citizens take no notice of the voice booming out at them all over the village, they simply go about their lives and business. In the end Number 6 is a beaten man. It is not he who is the 'new' Number 2, that position has been filled by Number 58!

She looks down sternly at Number 6, 'will you never learn, this is only the beginning, we do not wish to damage you permanently. Are you ready to talk?

Number 2 has a plan to get Number 6 to talk. He will brainwash Number 6 into thinking he is Number 12 - who has a moustache.

Do they intend to make Number 6 talk by making him wear a moustache? No, of course not. That would be an obvious, childish ploy. It's far more devious than that.

The Schizoid ManBecause Number 6, who thinks he is number 12, is then told he has to impersonate Number 6. Why? Because there is another Number 6 in the village and Number 2 wants to get him to talk.

But who is this number 6? He's really number 12. Confused? If you're not confused, you're not following this properly. I'll explain again.

Number 6 has been brainwashed to believe that he is number 12, who has been sent to the village by number 2 to get number 6 to talk, by pretending to be number 6 even though he is number 6, whilst the number 6 he's trying to get to talk isn't number 6 at all but is, in fact, number 12 working for number 2.

Number 6 sees through this obvious, childish ploy. He pretends to be number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6, when in fact he is number 6 being number 6 being number 6. Because he's worked out that number 6 is in fact number 12 pretending to be number 6 and is therefore not number 6 because number 6 is number 6 and number 12 must therefore, by a process of elimination, be number 12.

Number 6 decides that, to escape the Village, he should pretend to be number 12, which means he has to pretend to be number 12 pretending to be number 6, rather than number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be 6. So he is now number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6.

Look, they're wearing different coloured jackets, okay?

However number 2 sees through this obvious, childish ploy. He knows that it's not number 12 pretending to be number 6 pretending to be number 12. He knows it's number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6. How? Because he tests number 6, and number 6 gaffes by saying 'report back to "The General"'. So Number 2 lets number 6 go on a helicopter ride - straight back to the Village.

And that's Patrick McGoohan's scowl rushing towards me, cue prison bars, the end.

The clue that makes number 6 realise he is number 6 and not number 12 pretending to be number 6 is that he has a bruised thumb. His thumb was bruised when a lamp fell on it knocked by the perky bust of girl photographer Alison. Bras were pointier in the sixties. Casualties were inevitable.

Number 2 is played by Anton Rodgers who is, I think, the only actor is television history ever to wear prescription long-sighted-ness glasses in a prime-time sitcom. Except Sam Kelly.

This is the episode which has two Patrick McGoohans. The split-screen effect is remarkably effective. They develop a real on-screen chemistry, McGoohan and McGoohan. There's a real will-they, won't-they thing going on. Occasionally it looks like Patrick McGoohan is going to steal the scene, but then Patrick McGoohan steals it back again.

To be honest, though, it is one of the best bits of one actor performing dual roles I've ever scene. It's astonishing. It's staggering. It's fabulous. That Patrick McGoohan. He really knew how to play with himself.

 
BBC - Cult - Classic TV - The Prisoner (1967-1968)

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