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Friday 30 December 2011

The Outsider An Unused Script by Moris Farhi

    The script for The Outsider opens with the early morning, brilliant sunshine and No.6 acting in the most peculiar way. He's on the top of the cliffs and measuring the edge with a length of string with hooks on both ends. Then jots a figure down in a note book. There is a heading in the notebook Cliffs West and below the figure a segment of a geological map is taking shape. And Beach Area 18 and a completed map of the particular section scale 1:1000 and then suddenly there is the drone of an aircraft!
   No.6 reacts instantly at hearing the drone of a jet aircraft which instantly reaches a deafening crescendo. He cups his eyes whilst trying to spot the aircraft then the drone cuts out, instead a whistling whine, and an explosion tears the air. There is a geyser of smoke and fire shoots up in the distance. No.6 pockets his notebook and runs in the direction of the column of smoke, zig zagging through the trees. He finds the pilot who ejected before the aircraft impacted with the ground.
    Finding the pilot, who's first instinct is to go for his gun, but then thinks better of it seeing as how the approaching figure is unarmed. He addresses No.6 in some indistinct language, a cross between Latin and Nordic. No.6 asks the pilot if he is the only one, but there comes no reply. He asks if the pilot speaks English, there is a moments hesitation, then his English is perfect and without any accent. A brief conversation breaks out between the two. The pilot works for an outfit The Meteorological Bureau, weather observation you know. He saw a seaside Town.......... He asks if No.6 is a Forester?
   No.6: "No."
   Pilot: "A gamekeeper?"
   No.6: "No. A prisoner."
   Pilot: "Aren't we all? On parole?"
   No.6 examines the parachute
   Pilot: "A government issue!"
    "What government?"
    "How many have you got?"
   "How’s the leg?"
    "I'll survive."
    No.6 manages to get the pilot into a cave, its mouth well camouflaged with growth and foliage. Inside No.6 checks the walls for hidden surveillance, there is none. The cave is only home to the bats who reside there. The pilot has a survival kit, compass, which No.6 instantly sees as being useful and a map. The map depicts the southern tip of America, Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. Although the pilot is injured, No.6 ties him up in the cave, the pilot referring to himself as the Prisoner's prisoner!
    During the opening exchanges within the cave, the two men engage in a cat-and-mouse game about the supposed location of the village. The map found on the pilot suggests the southern tip of America, Argentina, Chile and even the Falklands Islands. Yet No.6 dismisses this theory by reference to the stars and specifically the Big Bear, which cannot be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. After this strange sparring, there is the odd scene in which the back of the pilot's map is rubbed on the wall of the cave to reveal a secret chart, the location is then identified as the Baltic. This was also the area identified as the village's location in The Chimes of Big Ben. It is possible that the area of the Baltic was intended to have been the original location for the village, behind the iron Curtain! in fact!
    The story  line then unfolds with No.6 determined to use the pilot to concoct an escape attempt. And the main village action of the script concerns a game of poker between No.2 and No.6, No.6's chair having been wired to a lie detector in the control room. But No.6 spots the wire and thereby spoiling No.2's plan. But this is a most interesting premise, the village could have probed No.6 for information about the crashed aircraft, and certainly about the whereabouts of the missing pilot. This under the guise of monitoring No.6's responses in a harmless conversation during the poker game.
    Then the action moves to "The Palace of Fun" which is never before used or even mentioned in any of the 17 episodes of the Prisoner, only seen on the "Maps of Your Village." In the Palace of Fun No.6 visits No.2 in the thermal baths. But No.2 confronts No.6 about the whereabouts of the pilot. But No.6 refuses to give any such information away, and is duly taken away to the hospital where he is subjected to five hours of torture in a "non-gravitational chamber". This torture would have involved in No.6 being left weightless and subjected to extreme temperatures, loud noises and psychedelic lighting effects.
    The climax of the story involves an intriguing plot which called for a helicopter to rescue the pilot using a transmitter beacon hidden in the pilot's flying suit. The transmitter having been activated and then hidden as a crafty decoy, while No.6 lights a bonfire on the hillside. However this would have been another decoy as No.6 and the pilot signal the helicopter by lamp from the beach.
    No.83 mysteriously turns up on the beach and joins No.6 and the pilot. No.83 who is said to be an undergraduate who is studying for her exams, and who has been assigned to No.6, and who he rejected in The Palace of Fun.
    No.83: "I've been searching for you, it is my duty to please you.... then I saw him" pointing to the pilot.
    Pilot: " I was outside looking for you, and there she was." Imitating No.83's voice "I have come to please you." What is she, mad?"
    No.83: "Pleasure Hostess!" Proudly.
    {This is the first insinuation of sex taking place in the village!}
    But the pilot isn't keen on taking the girl with them, in fact he wants to kill her, having taken out his gun. She's happy here, our world won't make her happy. And even No.83 wants to be killed
    "Please... I'm so happy... so happy. "Yes, kill me! Kill me! But please don't take me..."
    But No.6 is adamant that the girl goes with them. So the beacon on the beach it lit, a signal transmitted, and a helicopter despatched to make the rescue of the pilot, all carefully observed by No.2 and the supervisor in the control room. in fact the plan for the escape would have succeeded if only No.6 had not drank that cup of drugged coffee!
    It had all been one of No.2's little games. The pilot hadn't crashed at all, that had been staged, an explosion, plane wreckage scattered about. The pilots broken ankle, the cyanide capsule... all psychological warfare. The village never does anything by half measures!
   No.6: "I guessed as much. But one mustn't pass any chances. Good training. Was it worth your while?"
    Pilot: "Indeed. it should convince you there is no one you can trust, no one can help you. No way out."
    This after No.6 has awakened in the Georgian residence of No.2 who offers him tea. The pilot is now the new No.2! After a short interview No.6 leaves the Georgian house. Around him the village is coming to life. No.6 starts walking towards his cottage, a man unbroken. The camera moves to an aerial panoramic view of the village. Two prison gates suddenly clang shut in the foreground. In the centre of the screen we see a white dot coming at us like a bullet. It is the face of the Prisoner. It stops just behind the bars...... final fade out.

    There is no indication as to why this script was rejected. Indeed information has it that The Outsider was to have gone into production in January 1967. Moris Farhi was only told by script editor George Markstein at the very last minute that the proposed episode had been dropped. This on the word of Patrick McGoohan, on the premise that hero's do not bird watch. The script called for No.6 to observe the migratory birds so as to ascertain which part of the world the village might be. And during the torture scene of extreme temperatures, this would cause No.6 to sweat. As McGoohan thought it to be, heroes do not sweat!
   To my mind The Outsider would have made one of the strongest scripts for the Prisoner, a pity it was never included.



  1. "The other single-episode writer was Roger Parkes. He recalled being introduced to the project via Moris Farhi – indicating that McGoohan’s hopes about how the networking of writers would operate was at least slightly effective. Ironically, Mr.Farhi’s proffered script never made it as far as the series. It is instructive to note how disorganised the scripting process was however when he was asked for his contribution by George Markstein. In a memoir, Mr.Farhi recounted the events, “… George said it was a good idea… ‘Go away and work on it’… Then I was called by George…” Mr.Farhi then explains how he had to submit his synopsis on a Friday. On the Monday following he was then told he had to submit the completed script by the Friday of that subsequent week! When he protested this left him not enough time, George Markstein advised him to write one act per day! Fahri did manage to do this, then he had to make revisions on the Saturday, and then ‘clean it up’ on the Sunday. Despite this monumental effort his script was not used. The script-commissioning process seems to have been quite chaotic, and it would appear that this was only sometime around October, 1966. The project was six months old and scripts had evidently not even been commissioned in good enough time, never mind written."

  2. Hello Moor,

    Oh indeed, the script organision side to 'the Prisoner' was very disorganised, I could not agree more. Scripts not written, or even commissioned in time for the series, but while the series was in production. At times not enough free informatuon for the scriptwriters to understand what 'the Prisoner' was fully all about, and not enough time to develop a script.
    The more I have watched 'the Prisoner,' the more I have become to feel how 'the prisoner' series suffers because of too many scriptwriters, and I mean no distrepect to any writer who worked on the series. I might be wrong in thinking that all ITC series had different scriptwriters for each episode, but then 'the Prisoner' is not an ITC series, it was merely purchased by ITC. And would have done better I feel with only two or perhaps three scriptwriters, and I don't count McGoohan as one of their number. Had McGoohan not spent so much time writing scripts, he would not have put himself under so much pressure. He had to have control over everything, even the scriptwriters!


  3. Hi David,
    I found it interesting that McGoohan rejected this script ( IF indeed the reasons given were actually true) because he wouldn't bird watch ( He DID watch the birds migrating in Change of Mind...and he was sweating noticeably in quite a few of the episodes.

    I believe the real reason was because those "torture" scenes in zero gravity would have been too expensive to get on film...and I believe that I even read that explanation somewhere.


    1. Dear Karen,
      To be perfectly honest Number 6 isn’t exactly bird watching in ‘A Change of Mind,’ its just that birds of a feather flock together, and he’s an outcast, declared disharmonious! In ‘The Outsider’ Number 6 was to have studied bird migration in order to try and use that to ascertain the location of The Village.
      As for sweating Number 6 does that in most every episode, so what would one more have mattered to McGoohan?!
      And you are probably right about the Zero gravity being too an expensive effect!

      Be seeing you

  4. Hi David . .
    Ahhh...yes! You are right . ..absolutely right !
    I hadn't thought about the "birds of a feather" angle!

    I was thinking that he was watching the birds and wanting to be able to go with them!
    ESCAPE vs. fellowship for Number 6 was my thought process .
    It's so interesting to get other ideas about scenes from The Prisoner . ..great !