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Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Wot No Blog!

   Sadly there have been no blog entries recently, this is due to illness. This service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Be seeing you

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

All At Sea With No.6!

    Whenever I watch Number 6 on his voyage of discovery in ‘Many Happy Returns,’ I cannot help think how easy he has it. Always a calm sea, at times we can see the seabed, and with fair winds. He constructs his homemade compass, keeps a daily log. He is observed shaving, and eating corned beef from a tin. But a man can only go without sleep for so long, and before long tired, exhausted, and from lack of sleep Number 6 collapses unconscious, leaving the raft to drift on the tide, carried along by the current, and blown by the wind. Of course we see but only a fraction of Number 6’s 25 days at sea. But it’s the impression the film gives, indicating that Number 6 had it pretty easy during that voyage, and by no means indicating the hardship he would have had to endure. I have made much of Number 6’s sea voyage in my book The Prisoner Dusted Down, which deals with what we see on the screen. However recently I have had the opportunity to examine the script for Many Happy Returns to see how it was originally intended. So after the disappointment of “Don deron doy doy,” I turned my attention to Number 6’s experience at sea.
    The script is far more descriptive of Number 6’s sea voyage than could be shown in the actual episode. To indicate this, for those of you who have not read the script, I shall insert a few extracts to indicate how Number 6 had it much harder at sea than at first thought.

    “The raft is on the open sea. No land. No village, nothing but sea. P is starving. From one of the boxes he takes bread, cheese and ham. The sail is flapping cheerfully in the wind.”

    “The sail hangs limply. The boxes of food are only half-full. P, looking far from cheerful, stares for sight of land.”

    “The raft is swinging a bit, so P has to hang on. But at last the sail is full. He looks very tired as he goes to the food boxes. But they are empty. He takes up the last can of orange-juice, thinks of opening it but changes his mind and puts it back. He takes out a fishing line with five hooks and plays it into the sea. Then stretched on the raft and the end of the line about his wrist. He waits.”

    “P is staring thirstily at the can of orange-juice again as the line suddenly tugs at his wrist. Excited, he pulls in the line, the fish swinging it from side to side. Then just as he is about to land the fish, the line snaps. So does his temper. He grabs up the orange-juice, pierces the can angrily with a knife and drains it. He wipes his stubbly chin as he throws the empty can back into the box.”

    “P is stretched on the raft, his arms over his face to shield it. He wakes and pulls himself wearily to the boxes. But they are empty. He sits there, bearded now haggard, staring at the sea. He takes up the empty can and leaning over, scoops up sea-water, almost raises it to his lips but does not, lets it drain back again.”

    “A roll of thunder. The sky is thick with grey clouds.”

    “The first drops of rain are splashing on P. He struggles desperately to get the sail down. He does so and, as the rain really starts, he uses it to catch some.”

    “Even the sea is silent as the raft drifts through thick mist. P glances up at the sail, made into a bag and hanging from the mast by its four corners. The lack of movement irritates him and he slides into the water to swim and push the raft ahead of him. But one of his pushes is too strong and it vanishes. He forces down the panic, swims methodically until he finds it again. He clambers aboard and presses himself flat against the logs.”

    “A stiff wind is spinning the sail-less raft. P is hanging onto the mast for dear life. Suddenly the raft heaves and the mast snaps. The bag of water vanishes into the sea. The mast hits P knocking him out. So he does not see that some of his lashings are coming apart. As he lays there, one of the logs drifts off with its two oil drums. What is left of the raft is at an angle now and P’s lower half is in the sea. This wakes him. He clings to the upper edge desperately, at the end of his strength. He takes out his knife and cuts free the remaining oil-drums. So that the raft, even if very low in the water, is at least level. He knows he is near the end and, with the rope thus freed he lashes himself to the stump of the mast.”

    “Close on P. He looks very rough now, his beard some three weeks’ growth. He is still, he could be dead. The raft beneath him rocks a little. Pull back. On either side of him is a pair of seaman’s boots.”

   So according to the script Number 6 had been at sea for three weeks, four days less than the recorded log in the finished episode. What’s more Number 6 does suffer far more in the script than we see on the screen, and had it all been filmed and included in the finished episode it may have dragged on a little, but would have added realism to the sea voyage.
   Finally I have often wondered from where Number 6 obtained that thick seaman’s jersey he wears during his sea voyage. It was suggested that perhaps he took it from the General store along with all the other items he obtained there. But clothing is not sold in the General Store. The script for Many Happy Returns has it that Number 6 took it from the wardrobe in his cottage. But that is far from satisfactory, as it doesn’t answer my question!

Be seeing you

Village Life!

    “Warm for the time of the year.”
    “Yes I was only thinking that myself. Do you know we’ve hardly had any rainfall for almost a month now.”
    “The last time it rained was on August the twenty-third, and although it rained for two days we had less than two inches of rain. In fact we are due for another fine spell of weather that’s likely to last another month. The thing is The Village enjoys an temperate climate, which means we have a less than moderate rainfall. We have less than the average rainfall at this time of the year, with only a twenty percent chance of rain.”
    “You don’t say.”
    “It’s my job to check the rain gauge.”
    “That can’t take you very long!”
    “I’m going to have a rain gauge set up at the front of the Town Hall so that the citizens can check the rain gauge for themselves.”
    “They will be thrilled!”
    “I should say so. Do you know it often rains over the mountains, but hardly ever here.”
    “Remind me what you do again?”
    “I work for the weather bureau, it’s my job to forecast the weather.”
    “Well I don’t mind telling’s starting to rain!”

Be seeing you

A Favourite Scene In Checkmate

    Except this is from ‘Arrival,’ film stock footage which was never used in the episode. How can we be sure? Well that’s the Brass Band coming out of the Pink Pavilion, and there’s the Prisoner in his charcoal grey suit. This is the scene in ‘Checkmate’ just moments before the white squares of the chessboard are laid out, making it appear quite miraculous how it is that one moment there is no chessboard, and the next there is, and all the chess pieces are ready to take up their positions on the board. There is another shot from ‘Arrival’ just after the Prisoner had walked on the grass and climbs the steps onto the Piazza. Its scenes like these that in reality make a mockery of the Prisoner, not having enough film stock footage to insert during the editing process, but by then of course it was all too late. But I suppose this kind of thing all helps ‘the Prisoner’ to be ‘the Prisoner.’ But to me it all seems to have been rushed, the filming at Portmeirion, it’s a pity that they were restricted to a month on location.

Be seeing you

Monday, 14 January 2019

Dangerous Assignment

    The helicopter approached the Village from the far side of the estuary, the tide was out, so a large number of villagers were entertaining themselves on the beach as the helicopter flew over and circled the Village twice. A man sat alone on a bench in the Piazza, as villagers promenaded around the pool and fountain. Two cyclists peddled by riding canopy covered bicycles. And two white Mini-Mokes one with its candy striped canopy up, the other with it down. The scene was perfect, almost idyllic. The man sitting alone looked up at the helicopter shading his eyes from the afternoon sun. The helicopter was gone out of sight, but it could still be heard as it flew out over the estuary before turning back on itself to land on the triangular lawn by the sea wall.
    A taxi stood waiting, the driver sitting patiently waiting, having been despatched to collect the passenger in the helicopter. Its rotor blades were still spinning, but slower now that the engine was silent. A cabin door opened and a lean tall man stepped down onto the float, then onto the lawn, which he crossed somewhat briskly. The taxi driver got out of the white Mini-Mike and quickly collected the man’s suitcase, putting it into the back of the taxi as her passenger climbed into the front seat.
    The taxi moved off up a slope towards the Old People’s Home, then took a hairpin turn and up the road towards the Town Hall where it stopped.
    “Is this it?” the passenger asked.
    “This is where I was told to drop you sir.”
    “This...this is the Green Dome?”
    “No, this is the Town Hall.”
    It was then that a tall man dressed in a double breasted blazer, grey flannel trousers, with a scarf wrapped around his shoulders and carrying an umbrella shooting stick appeared on the steps of the brick building.
    “Ah Colonel, glad you could make it.”
    “I wasn’t given much choice in the matter.”
    “Indeed, that unfortunately for you, could not be helped.”
    “And you are?”
    “Number Two, Chief Administrator. But let’s not stand about here all day, shall we go inside?”
    “I would offer you lunch, but sadly time is of the essence.”
    Number 2 led the Colonel into the Town Hall, a few doors led off from the foyer, and a staircase led upwards. Number 2 opened a pair of doors, and immediately a set of steel steps led downwards.”
    “This way” said Number 2 leading the way.
    A pair of steel blast doors slid open, Number 2 and the Colonel stepped through onto a steel gantry. The pair of doors slid shut behind them.
    “This is the Control Room Colonel, the nerve centre of the Village.”
   Roughly two thirds of the domed chamber was decorated in a map of the world, the rest was covered by an astral chart of the stars. There was also a large wall screen. In the centre of the chamber was a steel see-saw device, one man sat on one end and another at the other, as it rotated round and round, as well as up and down. Five men and women sat at monitors.
   “They are the Observers, and the bald-headed man pacing the floor is the Supervisor.” Number 2 explained “Shall we?”
    Number 2 led the way down the steel steps to the floor of the Control Room. The Supervisor crossed the floor and approached the two men.
    “Is this him?” asked the Supervisor looking the Colonel up and down.
    “He’s not much to look at, is he up to the task?”
    “I don’t know” said Number 2 “I’ll ask him. Are you up to the task Colonel?”
    “What’s my assignment?”
    “Dangerous” the Supervisor replied.
    “I would have sent one of my operatives, they sent me instead!”
    “Seeing as who they are, you should feel very gratified.”
    “I’m curious to know what my assignment is.”
    “Of course you are.”
    “We’ll have to go and see the doctor.”
    “Why aren’t you feeling very well?”
    “I’m fine.”
    “Then why the visit to the doctor?”
    “It’s you he’ll be giving the once over to!”
    “Once over?”
    “Your medical.”
    “I am perfectly fit thank you very much.”
    “Yes......but one has to be sure, doesn’t one?”
    At the hospital the Colonel was put through a rigorous medical. And was declared.......
     “Absolutely fit, fit in fact for any contingency” pronounced the doctor.
    “Do you have anything in mind?” asked the Colonel.
    “Now we go to the laboratory, if you would follow me Colonel.”
    It was but a short taxi ride from the hospital to the densest part of the woods. Ahead was a set of high rocks, in those rocks was a solid blast proof steel door. The taxi stopped, Number 2 and the Colonel alighted and walked towards the rocks.
    “Where are we going?”
    “To the laboratory, its top, top secret.”
    The six inch thick steel door opened and both Number 2 and the Colonel stepped through, the steel door closing behind them and they walked along a corridor to a pair of steel doors at the far end. The doors slid open to reveal a large laboratory where technicians in white coats were busy at their work.
    “What is this?” the Colonel asked.
    “It’s why you are here........ah Professor how does it proceed?”
    A grey haired man, quite short and in his late fifties turned and pushed his spectacles on top of his head.
    “It goes very well, preparations are almost complete, we’ll be ready in two hours.”
    “Is this the man?”
    “Yes Professor, this is the Colonel.”
    “He has been briefed on the assignment?”
    “Ah no, not yet.”
    “He realizes that this is a dangerous assignment?”
    “He does, and he’s just about to undergo a briefing, if you would Colonel.”
    Number 2 indicated a small room just off the main laboratory.
    “What is all this equipment?” asked the Colonel as they crossed the room.
    “It’s all for you.”
    Number 2, the Colonel, and the Professor entered the room, and closed the door.
    “You are about to undertake a most dangerous assignment. Sit down Colonel.”
    The Colonel did as he was asked.
    “You saw the machine?”
    “The one with the curved steel spikes you mean?”
    “That Colonel is a time displacement machine, it displaces time and makes time travel possible” Number 2 began.
    “Time travel? No it’s not possible.”
    “On the contrary” said the Professor “It is very possible, as previous experiments have shown.”
    “Previous experiments?” asked the Colonel.
    “Of course, you don’t think we would send you back in time without first making sure the machine works do you?”
    “Colonel, you are to go back in time, and stop the evacuation of The Village” said Number 2.
    “Even if I believe you, back in time to where?”
    “The Village.”
    “Here? But I’m here already.”
    “Yes, but now, and not then.”
    “No this can’t be right” the Colonel protested.
    “There is no such word as can’t Colonel. You can go the easy way, or we’ll have to send you back to the Village the hard way. Which is it to be?”
    The Colonel sat gathering his thoughts.
    “Professor if you would continue with the preparations.”
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “What am I to do?”
    “You will be sent back to the Village in nineteen sixty seven, you will go to the Green Dome and make yourself known to Number Two. You will make him or her aware of the current imminent danger. Now everything is set in place, we have taken a great deal of time and care to set all this in motion for you. Now if you would please change out of your clothes and put these on, I shall be waiting for you in the Control Room.”
    “Why should they believe the ravings of a man whom they do not know?”
    “It is up to you to convince them.”
    Left alone the Colonel changed out of his grey suit and into beige trousers, a grey turtle neck jersey, and blue blazer with grey piping. The number 21 was pinned to the lapel. He left the room, crossed the laboratory to the Control Room, which Number 2 and the Professor were just leaving.
    “Ah Colonel we are almost ready for you.”
    “This will work won’t it?” the Colonel asked nervously.
    “There is no need to be nervous, all systems and circuits have been run and tested. Everything is on the top line, nothing can go wrong” the Professor said completing his check list.
    “Colonel if you would please take your position on the centre disc.”
    The Colonel stood looking at the machine.
    “I am being sent back to the Village in order to stop an evacuation. Why is the village to be evacuated, and why must I stop it?”
    “In order to put things right of course” said the Colonel “now if you would.”
    “How do I get back?”
    “Get back?”
    “To the village?”
    “Don’t worry Colonel, we’re about to send you back now.”
    The Colonel approached the machine and stood on the centre disc, while everyone retired to the Control Room.   
    “Bring up the power to maximum, set the time displacement reactor” the Professor ordered.
    Suddenly the laboratory was filled with arcs of electricity, which grew with intensity. The three points of the time displacement machine began to glow, there was a sudden clash of thunder, and the Colonel stood there no more.
    The pain intense, his whole body tingled and burned. The Colonel lay prostrate on the leafy ground. Slowly he sat up and began to study his surroundings. He was in a woodland, it was daytime. He got to his feet and stumbled forward along a path which eventually brought him to steps which led down to a road. There were people, people dressed in colourful clothes. Then the sound of a two tone horn and a white Mini-Moke with a candy striped canopy went passed. Then a girl on a bicycle, also with a canopy, and a chap riding a tricycle and holding up an umbrella.
    “Lovely day” the Colonel said from the bottom step.
    “Showers later” the cyclist said peddling passed.
    There was a woman walking along, wearing a blue trilby hat and a striped cape. The Colonel addressed her.
    “Excuse me madam. But could you direct me to the Green Dome?”
    “Up the street, up the steps on your left, you can’t miss it” the woman instructed.
    “Thank you” and with that the woman went on her way, as did the Colonel.
    Once on the balcony of the Green Dome the Colonel wasted no time in approaching the door, he paused and pulled on the wrought iron bell pull, the bell tolled once. He stood there expecting something to happen, it did. The door opened and there stood a diminutive butler. The Colonel looked at him.
    “I’m here to see Number Two.”
    The butler waited a moment, said nothing, then gestured the Colonel inside. There was an anti room, a table stood in the centre, there was a fire place, and a comfortable looking armchair, and pictures of sailing ships adorned the walls. The butler opened a pair of doors which led to a ramp and a pair of steel blast proof doors which opened as the butler approached. Slowly the Colonel stepped forward and followed the butler.
    “Who are you?”
    “The Colonel.”
    “I don’t know you, what do you want?”
    “I was sent here to see Number Two. Are you Number Two?”
    “I am the acting Number Two.”
    “Well I guess you’re the man I need to see. I’ve been sent to the village.....”
    “Well we all were at one time or another.”
    “No, you don’t understand.”
    “How did you get here?”
    “I was sent back to the Village.”
    “Oh you’ve been here before.”
    “Not exactly. I was sent back to the village by Number Two.”
    “I don’t understand.”
    “I was sent from the village back to the village, in order to stop an evacuation of said village.”
    “Evacuation, what evacuation?”
    “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.!
    “I don’t understand, that’s Number Two’s voice!”
    “I thought you were Number Two?”
    “I said I was the acting Number Two. Number Two is somewhere holding a closed security session. Something to do with a democratic crisis, he cannot be reached at this time.”

    Outside there was complete chaos as the command “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate boomed through the public address system, people running this way and that, helicopters taking off from all corners of the Village, white Mini-Mokes racing through the streets and across the beach their sirens blaring out.
    “Well Professor?”
    “As can be expected Number Two.”
    “Tell me does anything feel different to you?”
    “Has anything changed at all?”
    “No.....I do not think so. I am still here, you are here, the laboratory is here, so too the Village.”
    “Unfortunately it can mean only one thing.”
    “It hasn’t worked!”
    “I shall have to recalculate, and recalibrate.”
    “And try again? Number One isn’t going to like this!”
    “I shouldn’t think the Colonel will be too chuffed about it either!”
    “Or indeed any of the others!”
    “Yes, but none of the others went through. The Colonel was the first.”
    “But still something went wrong.”
    “Perhaps he never arrived, or arrived too late. I must recalculate, and recalibrate. Yes, perhaps the timing was out!”
    “Professor, we have your next subject, isn’t that right Number Fourteen!”

Be seeing you

Saturday, 12 January 2019

A Brief Encounter!

    There he is, Number 6 washed up on a beach on the south coast of England, although he didn’t know that at the time. Just off shore a red and white striped lighthouse. Exhausted Number 6 pulls himself together and gets to his feet, the shingled beach is deserted, the lighthouse appears to be an automatic one and unattended {although in reality the lighthouse at Beachy Head wasn’t fully automated until 1983} Walking along the beach Number 6 gazes up at the chalky cliffs, as it happens there has been recent cliff erosion which makes it easier for him to scale the cliff face. Once reaching the top of the cliff he walks inland and come across a rough looking man with his whippet. Number 6 follows the man to a Romany gipsy camp. There he is treated to the first genuine act of kindness since his abduction to the village, when an attractive young Romany woman who smiles warmly at him, gives him a cup of tea or broth. He asks her where is there a road. She replies pointing {and forgive the spelling as its unsure} “Don deron doy doy.”
   Towards the end of last year I was very kindly given copies of all the Prisoner scripts. And so I thought to work my way through them as there were a few things I wanted to check out in the scripts against what takes place in the finished episodes. Number 6’s encounter with the Romany’s was one of them. It was with eager anticipation that I turned the pages of Many Happy Returns to the required scene. Imagine my disappointment when I read that in the script the young woman doesn’t say “Don deron doy doy” at all, but speaks with a broad cockney accent! The Prisoner says he’s a long way from home, and that he wants to get to
England, “I…have……get…to…England. England? Inglaterra? Grande Bretagne? I…have…to…get…to…England.”
    “Just as well the, nt it? That’s where you’re at.”
    Number 6 asks where about he is,
Kent is the woman’s suggestion. Number 6 then asks how he gets to London. The woman replies “Dunno. Never go there. There’s a road that way” and she points the way.
   It’s not the same as pointing and uttering the incomprehensible “Don deron doy doy,” and to be quite honest I’m not sure which version I prefer. But I was interested to see how Don deron doy doy would have been spelt, that interest soon turned into disappointment!
   I suppose the change in dialogue for that scene must have been at the last moment because there is no indication of the change in dialogue on the page in the script. Perhaps it was thought that giving the location in
Kent was giving away too much information. And yet Beachy Head lighthouse is a well recognized landmark, and really that should have told Number 6 instantly where he was. However I soon recovered from my disappointment and turned my attention to the rest of the script for Many Happy Returns, and found that Number 6 had a much……… well for those who have read the script you will already be aware. However for my own satisfaction, and that of those who have not, I shall tackle Number 6’s sea voyage of discovery another time soon.

Be seeing you

The Interrogation

    “This is the ninth day, usually they talk after the third day, after the third day they want to talk, some we can’t shut up they want to talk so much. But you...............”
    “You’re doing a fair amount of talking yourself. I expect you’re one of those who likes the sound of his own voice, well let me tell you I’m not so keen on it myself!”
    “You think they’ll pin a medal on you, is that what it is? I held out for nine days and didn’t talk.”
    “Really, did you?”
    “Did I what?”
    “Hold out for nine days without talking.”
    “No I didn’t.”
    “Then you talked on the third day?”
    “I didn’t talk at all, in fact it’s not me we’re talking about, it’s you!”
    “Well I’ve nothing else to say.”
    “You will my dear fellow you will!”
    “You think so?”
    “I could have you tortured until you talk.”
    “Physical torture?”
    “Bit barbaric don’t you think?”
    “There are more subtle ways.”
    “Mental torture.”
    “Yes, the girl you helped.”
    “Is that her name?”
    “Number Fifty-five if you prefer.”
    “If you do not give us what we want, it will be all the worse for her.”
    “You wouldn’t, no, I can see that you would.”
    “Do your worst!”
    “You are very stubborn. This is Number Two, take Number Fifty-five out and shoot her.”
    “Please I’ve done nothing wrong. I did what Number Two asked of me, you wouldn’t, no please.................
    The sound of gunfire.
    “How do I know she’s dead?”
    The body of the girl is brought in a laid on the floor of the interrogation room.
    “Well, are you ready to talk?”
    “She’s dead, you can’t hold her over me anymore.”
    The girl stands up.
    “I told you it wouldn’t work!”
    “He’s not like the others.”
    “If you’re not going to talk we might as well put you up against the wall and shoot you!”
    “There is another way Number Two. Use the hollow leg treatment, pour some Vodka down him!”
    “What would be the point in that, it’s non-alcoholic!”
    “Well take him to the Therapy Zone, I’m sure the brewer will have a special brew.”
    “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside I do like to be beside the sea, as I walk along the front.........”
    “So, how do you feel?”
    “Me? I feel fine, this is Vodka?”
    “It’s strong stuff eh?”
    “You show me the man who says it isn’t!”
    “So what about this new weapon?”
    “What the blistering bomb?”
    “Is that what it’s called?”
    “Shhhhhhhh, its top secret!”
    “Yes I know, but you can tell me.”
    “What makes it so secret?”
    “Because of what it does.”
    “What does it do?”
    “Don’t tell a living soul.”
    “I won’t.”
    “Cross your heart and hope to die.”
    “I cross my heart and hope to die.”
    “It burns as it bursts as it blisters!”
    “Is that it?”
    “What else do you want it to do, destroy everything within a five mile radius?”
    “That would be a bonus.”
    “Actually it’s fifteen miles, and do you know what?”
    “Know what?”
    “They are going to drop it on this place, here, on the village. I’m an automatic signal, I swallowed a transmitter which fixes my precise location.”
    “Oh I doubt I’ve time to explain all that again. If I’ve judged this about right the village and everyone in it will cease to exist in less than two minutes.”
    “What’s that sound?”
    “Well would you believe it, my watch is slow...................

Be seeing you