Playing It By Numbers
Ronald Radd, No.53-the Rook in Checkmate. Pity the poor Rook, his mind tortured, his body tortured. Yet he preserves enough of his spirit to band together with his fellow conspirator, No.6. His is the portrayal of an anxious man who fears recapture by those holding captive, which is deftly carried off by Radd. His early nervousness comes off well, he is suspicious of everyone and has good reason to be. A man whose mind is almost at breaking point, who likes to obey the rules, and not upset anyone. He is a scared man, scared of saying the wrong thing, to be heard by a guardian saying the wrong thing.
His relief comes when he realises that he is being interrogated by someone like himself, a prisoner-No.6. Much of the performance of the Rook comes through tormented facial expressions and the actor with this part suitably deserves praise.
Christopher Benjamin as the labour Exchange Manager in Arrival, promoted as assistant to No.2 during The Chimes of Big Ben, and contact man to Mr.X in The Girl Who Was Death. Comedy and light relief are expertly provided by this actor. From twiddling that wooden contraption in his office of the Labour Exchange, to polishing Mr.X's suede shoes at his 'shoe-shine' stall. Benjamin brightens up the series with his performances. As for his role of "Potter," as contact man to Mr. X, Benjamin played a similar role in the Danger Man, episode of Koroshi, when he was Drake’s contact man, where incidentally, they met in a record shop!
It might very well have been Benjamin's performance in Danger Man which made him a natural choice for the Prisoner. In any event, it is a welcome decision, for his amusing antics add some dashes of colour to the sombre backdrop of the village.
John Sharp takes us from the amusing to the sinister and menacing with his portrayal of No.2 during A Change of Mind. A more sinister character you would not wish to meet. Your worst nightmares would be difficult to equal this man, whose rotund shape and chubby face may give off a kindly appearance, but it is the cold piecing eyes one remembers. There is something cold and brooding about this man, and we cheer with relief when he is chased through the village, after being denounced by No.86 as being unmutual!
When he speaks, the quiet tones of his voice sends shivers down the spine, even enough to freeze the blood in the veins of the listener. His is the face on the Orwellian style of poster, which at the same time is reminiscent of the First World War Kitchener poster. "Your Community Needs You."
This No.2 character who knows what is good for you, whether you like it of not.
Be seeing you