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Friday 9 December 2011

Patrick McGoohan - Is the Man Behind The Bars!

Patrick McGoohan – Is The Man Behind The bars

    "It ends this week.... the nightmarish cat-and-mouse game of spirit sapping tortures, subtle, scientific brainwashing and malignant mind probing"

   Such was the description written by Anthony Davis for an article written for the TV Times, published in 1968, and went on to write;
             "The last episode of the Prisoner, the most bizarre thriller series ever, is at hand. The moment when viewers will expect the answers to the questions they have been asking since this intriguing. two level blend of special agentry and science fiction began sixteen curious episodes ago."
    The Prisoner is Patrick McGoohan's series. He devised it, after the original idea of George Markstein's which he also shared, he was executive producer, starred in it, wrote some of the episodes, had a hand in direction and even helped with the composition of the Prisoner theme music. Never before or since has one man been so responsible for a television series, let alone a television series as remarkable as the Prisoner. Before it all began McGoohan said "If people don't like it  only one person to blame - me!"
     So with that in mind its not so much a question of the Prisoner-No.6 behind the bars, but that of Patrick McGoohan himself. Because when he is asked about the Prisoner he can be the most exasperating man. Volunteering nothing, answering laconically, or with one or two questions of his own for the one asked! When asked what his feelings were his feelings now that the series has come to an end? McGoohan responds;
           "I've done a job, I set out to make a specific number of films. I've made them. The series has come to an end. It's just the end of a job, that's all."
    Well I can see where he's coming from, because that is just how cast members of the Prisoner series feel about working on it "Its was simply a job. I worked on the Prisoner for 10 to 14 days. I finished and then went on to the next job, if there was one of course" or words generally to that effect. Of course for the majority of the cast working on the Prisoner series it was just that, a job. But for Patrick McGoohan to say that he's done a job, having made a specific number of films, that the series has come to an end, it's just a job, that's all. This is very surprising to read of him under playing his hand in such a way. but then his reasons for the Prisoner was never for self-publicity I should have thought seeing just how much he was in control of every aspect of the Prisoner series, how much of himself McGoohan had actually put into the character of the Prisoner. Perhaps too much at the end of the day, having worked both cast and crew hard, and himself even harder!
    And did Patrick McGoohan achieve all he had hoped to achieve when he originally embarked on the project? Well of course it was a very controversial series, certainly the most controversial series of its time. You either loved or hated it. But love and hate are simply different sides of the same coin, "But if it did fail in some respects then it's a pity" as McGoohan put it "but I don't think it has." Letters which McGoohan received at the time were not at all complimentary, fascinating, but not at all complimentary. "However the pros out weighed the cons."
     Was Patrick McGoohan stirring up of controversy his main aim? Well I would have said yes, but as he said to Anthony Davis "Who said so?" Pat demanded. "Are you saying that?" Oh you're asking."
    the Prisoner series was asking the question "Has one the right to tell a man what to think, how to behave, to coerce others? Has one the right to be an individual?" The series was meant to get people talking about it, love it or hate it, say what you want, but get people talking about it, which of course they did, and they complained at the time to the company ATV. To get people talking about it, to provoke them, he certainly achieved that. They questioned and they argued for years after the original screening, they argued and discussed the Prisoner for years and years. In fact they're still at it today, those who are still finding the Prisoner for themselves today, new fans with fresh ideas and theories as to what's it all about!
    When it comes to the question of continuity between the episodes, or the rather the lack of it, that there is really no logical progression in his captors and their extraordinary attempts to break him, his mind, body or spirit. there seems no logical pattern to his escape attempts, but there wouldn't be in this case, and no logic to anything else. But then if its logic you're looking for, then the Prisoner is the last place you'll find it!
    What Patrick McGoohan had to say on the matter was this, or rather to ask two questions; "You're living in this world? You must answer "yes" to that. "Do you always find it logical?" "No!" And that is your answer to that.
    How the ending of the Prisoner series would be, brings a clear answer at last from McGoohan. He envisaged it from the beginning:
    "In a series like this, you have to know at the outset what you're aiming at. You have got to know the ending before you begin. So I had the idea for the final episode first of all and took it from there."
   Hang on a minute, if McGoohan had known all the time how the series was going to end, then what's all this about him having a meeting with Lew Grade and not knowiing how the series was going to end?
    And what about the "riddles" would the final episode answer these? "What riddles?" was McGoohan's demand. Those of who run the village, where the village is located. Who No.1 is, why the Prisoner resigned? Which side was he on?
    Apparently not, and McGoohan said as much in the interview with Anthony Davis. "No, no it doesn't."
   Well that was straight answer from McGoohan if ever there was one! It was a programme company spokesman who was more informative on this matter;
      "The answers are there in fact, but not in black and white, not answered straightforwardly at surface level. The viewer will still have to use some imagination and read between the lines."
   And that is something I have been saying for years, that the answers to the questions posed by the Prisoner and his village are in the Prisoner. All you have to do is look for them, and arrive at an understanding which is perhaps not best best suited to anyone else, but to yourself.

   As a footnote, when Patrick McGoohan was asked by Anthony Davis "Will the Prisoner ever return?" "Definitely not" was the reply.  

       {I should think McGoohan had had quite enough by the end of Fall Out}    Be seeing you


  1. Have the Jammers been busy? The quote has been *interfered* with.............

    In the magazine this paragraph actually reads:

    "The Prisoner is Patrick McGoohan's series. He devised it, was executive producer and starred in it. He had a hand in writing every script and directed a number of episodes. Never before has one man been so responsible for a series, let alone such a remarkable series."

    I don't know how much else in your quotes is changed, but there is no doubt this quote has had a change of mind. Where did you get it from? They have changed History!!

    The original magazine is in pdf form in here:
    but sadly the webmaster has made his site so that you have to seek it out for yourself, and I cannot give you a direct link.

  2. Hello Moor,

    Compliments of the season to you.

    Well I'm sure the Jammers are always up to their tricks in some shape or form. I did get the quotes from a reproduction of that TV Times article in an issue of 'Number Six' magazine in 1997, you can read it in todays 'Out Of the Archive.' as for other quotes used, I quote them as I find them. I may be many things, but I'm certainly no Jammer....nor do I have any real interest in domestic science, although I do like music.
    I shall check out the link you gave me.


  3. The archive piece seems to match the original okay. It is your transcription that seems to have developed extra bits, inserted into it. I think I may have misunderstood when you were "quoting" and when you were instead re-interpreting the original.

  4. Hello Moor,

    Yes I see what you mean now. To be perfectly honest it has been a while since I originally wrote that piece, I used quotes from various places, and added them, in places my own interpretation. It was never meant to be a straight transcription, which has confused the issue. The important thing is it is being read, and you took enough notice so to comment about it. I would rather have someone as your good self to say "Hey, you've not got that quite right," than for a piece of blog to go by unnoticed.

    Kind Regards
    Be seeing you