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Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Prisoner Under The Spotlight


The spotlight more often than not is upon the Prisoner-No.6, seen here as himself dressed in his own clothes, well he's happier that way it seems.
   There is much to this man that is an enigma. Even as a child there was something in his brain which was a puzzlement! But at least we did learn one thing, the reason behind his act of resignation - that is was a matter of conscience, as well as for peace of mind because too many people know too much, he certainly knew too much about No.2 and told him so - to his face and saw him as an enemy at the same time!
   The Prisoner was originally brought to the village because he had resigned from his highly secret, and confidential job, or was he? Yes, No.2 wanted to know why No.6 had resigned, but as he once said "If he will only tell us why he resigned, all the rest would follow." So the reason why No.6 resigned was really only a starting point from which to gain all the other important knowledge inside his head, to be extracted rather than protected!
   Whilst here No.6 is not induced into taking up a working position, when at the Labour Exchange which when not being conditioned, under threat of being posted Unmutal, undergoing a Leucotomy, in a hallucinatory drugged state of mind, tranquillised, running for office in the elections, trying to escape, attempting to bring down the village from within, or being put on trial. Undermining No.2, intervening in an assassination plot, and generally poking his nose in where it's not wanted. Working out in the village gymnasium, or his own private gymnasium in the woods, there's his semi weekly Kosho practice, chess matches down on the lawn of the Old People's Home, No.6 would have a good deal of spare time on his hands
   Yet as time goes on it is somehow decided that they don't want to break No.6, that the "tissue" must not be damaged. they don't want a man of fragments, he is not like the others, he must be "Won over." And then having survived the ultimate test of Degree Absolute, he is then not to be called No.6 or indeed any number at all "Sir" is his new title. And the reason behind his resignation no longer seems to matter to the Assembly, as "Sir" is offered ultimate power, and the chance to meet No.1. But it avails him nothing. Because you see No.6 is just as much a prisoner at the end as he is at the beginning, just like you and me really. Except that the spotlight is more on No.6 than it is us, which is just as well really. Because there's nothing wrong with living a quiet existence, I've found that no-one bothers you
    You might have wondered about the names, and numbers, of some of the people who receive billing in the Prisoner, or why some names do not appear. Or even to whom some of those names belong. It is possible to gain certain information by the study of the credits of the series, yet certain oddities and omissions sometimes occur.
    Arrival is the best place to commence. We see that George Markstein, as well as being credited as script editor for the series, is also credited as co-writer of the episode. However on the screen Markstein actually appears unaccredited - as the man sitting behind the desk to whom the Prisoner hands in his letter of resignation. This cameo role is repeated in almost every opening sequence for almost every subsequent episode, including Many Happy Returns. Yet Markstein never receives any recognition for this role. {Well it was a sort of Alfred Hitchcock moment for George Markstein, appearing in the Prisoner without actually being credited}.
    On the other hand , the Arrival credits contain the names of Peter Brace and Keith Peacock as 1st and 2nd Croquet Players. {It was originally intended from the original script that there should be two men on the lawn playing Croquet. But this scene was later cut, but apparently the Croquet Players remained credited in the end credits. Obviously someone forgot to tell the film editor in the cutting room!}. And there is an extra in Arrival - one Lillian Llewellyn sporting the badge No.61 - who greets the Prisoner with the words "Beautiful day" but receives no credit for.
   ‘Arrival’ also introduces us to the female voice of the village announcer - Fenella Fielding, who was responsible for such public announcements as the ice cream flavour of the day, weather forecasts, while informing us during ‘The Chimes of Big Be,’ that the Arts and Crafts exhibition is just six weeks today, and that "Your local council, and remember that it is your local council has a great new painting competition - seascapes!"
   On the music side to the Prisoner, Bob Dearberg is credited as Music editor, with Ron Grainer and composer of the title theme. Later on Albert Elms gets a credit for "incidental music," yet there seems to be a fair amount of overlap between their roles.
    Before leaving The Arrival as the episode was originally titled, it should be noted perhaps that during the famous and powerful opening sequence, where the Prisoner is seen running across the beach, actually features stunt man and co-ordinator Frank Maher and stunt double for Patrick McGoohan. {This because McGoohan twisted his ankle whilst running on the sand. Frank Maher did point out to Patrick that it's not easy running on sand, but McGoohan would do it. And so twisting his ankle, McGoohan had to allow Frank Maher to perform part of the beach scene.
   In subsequent opening sequences, the voice of the incumbent No.2 is not always heard. In some cases it is Robert Rietty who provides the voice of No.2 during the opening dialogue. ‘Dance of the Dead’ has the voice of Robert Rietty who provided the diabolic voice and demonic laughter of No.2, but in point of fact it was Mary Morris who is No.2 in the episode ‘Dance of the Dead.’ But then originally Trevor Howard was supposed to have been No.2 in this episode, but who had to drop out through illness. {The use of Robert Rietty for the voice of some No.2's can probably be put down to trying to save production time. But it would have been more interesting to have had each individual actors/actresses voice used in the opening dialogue "Where am I? etcetera, etcetera.}

Be seeing you

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