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Thursday, 17 April 2014

What’s That Patrick McGoohan Up To?

    Patrick Mcgoohan "What's going on here then, I didn't say break for lunch!"
    People muttering between themselves in the crowd;
    "What's going on then?"
    "I think they want a crowd scene."
    "Well they've got that bit right!"
    "Who's that bloke in the piped blazer?"
    "Don't you know, that's Patrick McGoohan"
    "What are we queuing up for, have they brought rationing back?"
    "Someone said we were going to get paid today"
    "I don't think that can be right. I think something is going on over there."
    "Don’t know, I can't see."
    "Isn't it exciting?"
    "Being involved in something that one day will be a cult series"
    "I shouldn't get too excited if I were you. We'll only be in the distance, long shot!"
    "Yeah, either that or edited out and dropped on the cutting room floor!"
    “I was in a close-up shot yesterday.”
    “I played an old woman in a wheelchair.”
    “I’m wearing a tinted face visor!”
    “Yeah a group of us had to wear those the other day for a scene, like a welders mask they are. And we all had to stand in a rank and all had to march in a straight line.”
    “Why did you have to do that?”
    “I don’t know, they didn’t tell us.”
    "What do we shout again?
    "Six for two, six for two, then later on vote, vote, vote. Then we do a lot of cheering. Didn't you listen to what the director was saying?"
    "No, I was too busy watching what they were doing with that thing on wheels. It was kicking up an awful row!"
    "You mean that Go-kart thing."
    "Yeah I saw that. They put it back in the van. I heard someone tell someone to get rid of the bloody thing and go and get some balloons instead!"
    "What do they want balloons for?"
    "I don't know, someone said go and get me some balloons."
    "Did they?"
    "Well I saw this chap up in the woods blowing up a lot of balloons."
    "I saw one of them explode, a chap was covered in white powder."
    "I was looking out over the estuary the other day. I saw a frogman with one of those balloons."
    "What was he doing with it?"
    "He dived into the water taking the balloon with him. A few minutes later the balloon reappeared on the surface of the water."
    "Shouldn't we be taking photographs of all this?"
    "I did! I took a photograph of Patrick McGoohan with one of those balloons tied to the belt of his trousers!"
    "Why did they do that?"
    "I saw him walking along pulling the balloon behind him, then he sort of tripped and fell over!"
    "When's lunch, I'm hungry!"
    "Oh look we're starting again."
    "Hooray, hooray. Six for two, six for two. six, six, six, six, six for two........"

Be seeing you

The Prisoner Under the Spotlight

 No.6 Is All At Sea! It appears that the doctor in ‘Checkmate’ was not too far off with her Psychiatric report on No.6, showing a positive sign of abnormality, a total disregard for his personal safety, and a negative reaction to pain, that would take superhuman will power, not too sure about the abnormality bit though.. But  No.6 was a secret agent, and he did demonstrate both a negative reaction to pain and a fearlessness during ‘Hammer Into Anvil.’ This when No.2 pressed the tip of his sword against No.6's forehead. As for a total disregard to personal safety, well No.6 first demonstrated this when on the day of his arrival he attempted to escape when attacking the two men in the Village taxi down on the beach. He even openly attacked the white membranic mass of the Village Guardian, not knowing exactly what he was facing!
   During ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ No.6 and Nadia-No.8 set sail in the most rickety of boats. Made from a wooden hull and a flat bottom, complete with holes. A tarpaulin wrapped round it and secured with ropes, while the mast and spar looked to be the rickety of all the craft as they set sail for the Polish coast, 30 miles away. 30 miles, the craft didn't look as though it would sail 30 yards before it capsized and sank!
    But even this was not enough for No.6, as when finding the village deserted in ‘Many Happy Returns,’ and having built his sea going raft, No.6 quickly set sail. And for me this was No.6 most dangerous enterprise yet, because not only did he not know where he was sailing from, he couldn't possibly know where he was sailing to! The wind, tides and currents could have carried his raft anywhere, especially in the four hours he slept each day. This latest enterprise saw No.6's powers of endurance taken to the limit, collapsing from sheer exhaustion after some 25 days at sea. But at least when having navigated the Meteor jet aircraft to the actual location of the Village, meant that at least next time No.6 would know both the Latitude and Longitude of the village!
    That chance came during the attempted escape in ‘Checkmate.’ No.6 set the Rook-No.53 adrift aboard on nothing more than two flimsy lilos roped together, very un-seaworthy. This so that No.53 could send a distress signal just off shore so as to bring M.S. Polotska inshore to find the survivors of the downed aircraft "Trans Atlantic Flight D for Delta 250." Mind you it took a man to complete the task, as No.6 found the abandoned lilos on the sea shore. So he himself set off the continue transmitting the distress signal, and when boarding M.S. Polotska No.6 wasted no time in speaking to her skipper, only to find that the ship belonged to the village! Yet there was still plenty of fight left in No.6, and he surely wasn't going to give up so easily. But he sure took the chance of smashing the television screen, through which he and No.2 had been discussing a slight misunderstanding, between the Rook and No.6, who smashed the television screen with a glass ashtray. I should have thought the explosion would have been much louder and bigger, showering splinters of glass everywhere as the tube inside the television screen exploded. No. 6 could have been badly maimed, even blinded! But the television must have only been some kind of TV monitor, as there was no tube inside the television.
    On a final note, when No.6 was transmitting his mayday call, he hid the co-ordinates by crinkling greaseproof paper in his hand, to imitate static over the radio transmission. This was quite unnecessary, as he knew the co-ordinates and could have given both the Longitude and latitude he had discovered by navigation of the meteor jet to the location of the village in ‘Many Happy Returns.’ Anyway I could tell it was No.6's voice, so why not the Supervisor?

Be seeing you

Word Association Test

   At the hospital during ‘Checkmate’ Number 6 is put through a series of word association tests.
“Anchor?” queries the psychiatrist.
“The Hope and Anchor, it’s a pub I used to drink at” says Number 6.
For all
   The doctor said there are some unusual associations, although nothing significant. Well let’s see. Hope-anchor, the Hope and Anchor public house where the Prisoner used to drink at. As a matter of fact The Hope and Anchor is about two miles from Patrick McGoohan’s former school of Ratcliffe. It is not known that as a pupil at Ratcliffe McGoohan actually went drinking at The Hope and Anchor, although it is known that boys of the school did, and Patrick McGoohan would have been aware of that.
   Home-away that’s perhaps the Prisoner being away from the Village, and reflects his return as in ‘Many Happy returns,’ and again for the same episode away-return, meaning he was away and then he returned. Free-for all well that’s when the Prisoner stood as a candidate for public office, for the position of No.2.
   The rest of the words go together in pairs, like red sail, which could be associated with a song “Red sails In The Sunset” published in 1935. Game-love-game-game-tennis, and in tennis love is nil! And besides that No.6 is good at the game he plays against No.2, and that’s why No.14 tells him he plays a fine game, and has nothing whatsoever to do with chess!


Pictorial Prisoner!

    As soon as I heard that Catherine McGoohan was to attend the Prisoner convention this year I knew I had to ask a question via an old friend of mine, one that has been puzzling for quite a long time. It was Tony Sloman who was film librarian on 'the Prisoner' who said that it was Catherine McGoohan who stood in for Nadia Gray during that romantic scene on the evening of 'The Chimes of Big Ben.' I thought it strange as Catherine would only be fourteen years of age, and why use one of McGoohan's daughters for McGoohan to put his arm around?
   Anyway the question was asked of Catherine McGoohan and she confirmed that it is not her in that scene. Thus a long held myth has been dispelled, Tony Sloman was wrong!
    This brings me back to the woman in the light blue Jersey and dark blue slacks in the following picture, walking ahead of the parade during the 'Dance of the Dead' episode.
   The woman's build is the same as Nadia Gray, her hair the same colour as is the hair atyle itself. I don't know who this woman is, I can only imagine she is one of the production crew, and my money is on her as the stand-in for Nadia Gray.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Information and Observation

   You know I really do believe No.6 would have been much better off with flint axe and chisel rather than "Doing as the caveman did!" for his task of chopping down that tree, clearing it of its branches, and carving out the hull of that boat from the trunk. After all cave men did not use stone implements for chopping, cutting and scraping. Cavemen used napped flints!
    Sabotage, here in the village, what have things come to? And for a change No.6 is not who is at the bottom of it, but that No.12 of administration. It was he who deliberately sabotaged the electrics of 6 private, yet to suit both their purposes the blame was laid firmly at the feet of No.6. He was offered the possibility of imprisonment or a fine, No.6 said he would take the fine, to pay nothing. As was the fine of 20 credits units issued by the judge in the embryo room of ‘Once Upon A Time’ for speeding. "20 credit units, nothing." This rather than face solitary confinement, as he is already in one kind of prison!
    Have you observed how both the Butler and the observer-No.240 in ‘Dance of the Dead’ wear their capes inside out? True they do, the brown lining on the outside and the colourful stripes on the inside. Perhaps its a question of not wanting to look ridiculous, or worse this action being construed as a clear act of defiance to be different. After all the Butler is one, who like No.6, does not wear his penny farthing numbered badge of identification. And No.240 does protest against the sentencing of No.6 at his trial of ‘Dance of the Dead.’ "It's the rules my dear" No.2 tells Little Bo Peep-No.240. But what are they, has anyone ever seen these rules?
    In ‘Free For All’ it is No.6's predictability that sees him "run for electoral office," they knew what they were doing in having those placards prepared printed Vote for No.6 and those of No.6's face upon them in time for the election. Of course the village administration knew No.6 could not refuse to take up No.2's challenge, just as the Labour Exchange manager knew that once No.6 had been elected he would try and instigate a mass breakout. It was No.6's own predictability that was his own undoing here!
    Having viewed both ‘The Schizoid Man’ and ‘The Genera’l many times previously, I had observed that when No.6 pulls up the left sleeve of his blazer to show the mole which he hasn't got, that the stainless steel strap of his wrist watch is already open! this I found very strange, to be wearing a wrist watch with the strap undone. And No.2 in ‘The General’ puts his dark safety glasses on over his spectacles! I thought this cannot be right, No.2 must surely take off his spectacles before donning the safety glasses. However having gained the Prisoner on DVD I was able to put an end to such mystery, as a frame by frame the viewing of this scene in ‘The Schizoid Man’ on DVD revealed that No.6 did in fact unclip the stainless steel strap of his wrist watch. It is a frame you do not see when viewing it normally, and I was wrong about No.2 taking off his spectacles in ‘The General,’ he does put his sun glasses on over his spectacles. And where there is a frame of film missing, you will find, in some of the end credits to the Prisoner episodes an incomplete canopied penny farthing bicycle! I leave it to you to spot which they are, if you have not already long since done so that is.
    What a man No.2 is of ‘Checkmate,’ sitting crossed legged on the floor of his office, attired in judo outfit and a length of balsa wood placed on two blocks in front of him. "Kaaa!" And No.2 splits the balsa wood with one swift blow of the side of a hand, very impressive!
    How well do you know your alphabet? Poor old No.6, his mind housed in the body of the Colonel, and remember it is supposed to be the mind of No.6 and not that of the Colonel, nor actor Nigel Stock! In ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ No.6 has retrieved the photographic slides from the photographic shop, and after returning home, he closes the blinds and prepares to find the location of Seltzman through a number of slides. The number of the slides corresponds with the letters of SELTZMAN, the number of each letter of the alphabet 19, 5, 12, 20, 26, 13, 1, 14 No.6 calculates on one hand. This action has often been ridiculed by some people, but could you do better, I don't think I could, because I just had to write down the letters of the alphabet to make the same calculation as No.6! Mind you agents of No.6's calibre who deal with codes and ciphers are supposed to know, its all part of their training.

    You know it rarely rains here in the Village, the sky is blue, hardly a cloud to be seen. Yet there are warnings of intermittent showers later in the day. And if you greet a citizen with "Beautiful day" you get "Showers later" in response. The only time it does actually rain and a thunder and lightening storm with it, well to my knowledge, is during ‘A B and C’ when the slumbering No.6 is being taken to that secret laboratory somewhere deep in the woods.
    No.6 is a smoker,  something frowned upon in these modern times. In the Schizoid Man we learn that No.6 enjoys his own brand of cigar, that he has "Black Russian" cigarettes to hand. John Drake was a smoker, of both cigars and cigarettes, yet the only time we actually see No.6 smoking is during his spell in jail in the episode of ‘Living In Harmony,’ having been put into "protective custody!" No.6 whilst lying on his bunk in his cell, rolls himself a cigarette using a  liquorice paper. He lights the cigarette with a match and smokes it. It is the first and last time we see No.6 smoking, he coughed on the cigar in ‘The Schizoid Man’ because the cigar was rigged with a piece of plastic running inside its length, and that would make anybody cough!
    As a footnote to this, we can see by No.6's nicotine stained fingers that he is a frequent smoker, possibly even a "chain smoker."
   And that's it this time around readers, time for me to go and have my elevenses at nine! Take care, and remember to keep 'em peeled, remain alert and vigilant at all times, just as No.2 would have it.

Be seeing you

Why the Prisoner?

   That’s a very good question. I suppose if it hadn’t been ‘the Prisoner’ it would have been something else. Having been a fan of ‘Danger Man’ as a boy, secret agent John Drake having been my childhood hero, I suppose it was inevitable that I should take to ‘the Prisoner,’ seeing as how I saw it as a follow-on series to ‘Danger Man.’ Well that's how I saw it anyway. It was an easy association to make I suppose, given that Patrick McGoohan was the actor in both cases. Simple to see that John Drake had become fed up and disillusioned with the kind of work he had to do. And I suppose ‘the Prisoner’ triggered my boyhood imagination, and has held me prisoner ever since. A fine tribute to Patrick McGoohan’s method.
   Way back in the 1968 since ‘the Prisoner’ series came to an end, it has always remained in my mind, I have never forgotten it. But there was one problem, I had no-one to talk to about ‘the Prisoner.’ My parents didn’t like it because they didn’t understand it, and didn’t even try to understand the series. And at school, I seemed to be the only one to appreciate it. Oh yes and there was another drawback, there was no way I could watch the series again. So I was left with only that which I could remember. I had become a Prisoner in isolation!
   I had questions that were unlikely ever to be answered. My memories of each episode were mixed, I found it difficult to recall exactly what took place in each episode. But one iconic image of ‘the Prisoner’ remained, was that of the Village Guardian. And the theme music, that has always remained.
    I had to rely on what I could remember because it would be almost ten years before I would see ‘the Prisoner’ again. And when I did it was almost in triplicate, on three different regional television stations of ITV. One screening following on after the one before, it was great. I say almost in triplicate, because Yorkshire Television axed the series after about 7 episodes. I don’t know why, because it wasn’t screened until eleven at night! But it didn’t matter, I had seen ‘the Prisoner’ at least twice. But still none of my questions had been answered. I had to find my own answers, which is what the series is all about. You have to find your own answers, arrive at an understanding of ‘the Prisoner’ which best satisfies you.
   In time I began to answer my questions, in fact ‘the Prisoner.’ I had an understanding of ‘the Prisoner’ that I was happy with, even ‘Fall Out,’ which I came to see as a James Bond style of ending to the series. But what I found with watching ‘the Prisoner’ a second, third, and a half times, that it raised even more questions!     
   Yes, if it hadn't been ‘the Prisoner,’ it would have been something else. But then what else could it have been that has withstood such a test of time?

I'll be seeing you

A Home From Home!

   I am reminded in a letter from an old, old friend that the Village is not so different from the capital of London after all. With its dome of St. Pauls Cathedral, even that of the Old Bailey, St. Stephens Tower where the bell "Big Ben" is housed, and somewhere in between lies the Prisoner's home of No.1 Buckingham Place.
   So where do these structures fit in with the Village? Well obviously they wouldn't, not being of the scale of buildings that they are. However the Village does enjoy their equivalents, the Green Dome No.2’s residence, and the Campanile the Bell Tower and in between there is No.6’s cottage of  '6 Private.’ Although this cottage isn’t really a home from home, seeing as the cottage contains only the study of The Prisoner’s London residence. However using a little imagination the Village can be a real "home from home" even if the Village is made up of a mixture of architecture, Italianate, and a more pleasing atmosphere for the majority of its citizens. It's really only those of No.6's defying disposition who take against it! Everything No.6 could want is here, and so the Village is not so very different from home!

Be seeing you