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Wednesday 18 January 2012

Number Six - The Greatest Living Englishman?

    After delving into a collection which has grown into something of an archive, this whilst looking for inspiration for a Prisoner article here, I came across a back number of The Tally Ho and an article there in, under the title of 'Greatest Living Englishman' and subtitled 'No.36 - Patrick McGoohan as Number Six'.
   Described as being a man even Jeremy Paxman would have struggled to get information out of Number Six. and Patrick McGoohan as being a stroppy bugger in the Prisoner, yet he did give us the most memorable opening sequence in TV history. The article goes on to describe what goes into making a cult television series; the villages numbered penny farthing badges, the canopied penny farthing bicycle. The village Mini-Moke taxis,tthe village guardian 'Rover.' Piped blazers such as the one worn by Patrick McGoohan throughout the whole series. And that greeting "Be seeing you," all this together with the bizarre setting of Portmeirion.
    In the article much is described of the Prisoner and his village, in the way that citizens are only superficially happy, because beneath the brass band concerts, the "Arts & Crafts" societies and brightly coloured umbrellas, anyone who deviates from the accepted norm was found to be guilty of disharmony by the committee, sedated and given a quick lobotomy known as "Instant Social Conversion." In the seminal episode Number Six was declared as being 'unmutual' as part of the village's drive towards a 'social conscience.' And more descriptive appreciation for the Prisoner followed, descriptive appreciation with which we will not concern ourselves with here at this time.
   As I read this articles in a back number of The Tally Ho, an article which originally appeared in the magazine 'Loaded,' as part of their 'Greatest Living Englishman series.' Well I began to wonder just exactly how either Patrick McGoohan or that of the Prisoner-Number Six actually made it to the No.36 position in the first place? There is a final paragraph of the article in question which I shall reproduce for you here;
     Yes, Number Six was an inspiration to anyone who's ever jacked their job in - or been told they're "unmutual". Patrick McGoohan, Number Six, not a number but a Greatest Living Englishman.
   Yes, well I'm sure that this was meant well, but if we deal with the Prisoner Number Six first. He cannot be the Greatest Living Englishman, because whatever we think of the Prisoner series, we are talking about a fictional character here. Yes I know that Patrick McGoohan put much of his own character into the Prisoner, but essentially we are dealing with a fictional character who couldn't possibly have lived! So that's why you can't have the Prisoner-Number Six as a Greatest Living Englishman, the fact being that he's not alive in the first place!
   Secondly, looking at it through the position of Patrick McGoohan, the Greatest Living Englishman, well McGoohan was an American-Irish, so that counts him out. And if you count the fact that much of McGoohan's own character is of the Prisoner-Number Six, well that's twice you can't have him as a Greatest Living Englishman!
   It's all a bit tongue-in-cheek, and not to be taken too seriously. But if such articles have to be written, such authors really should get the facts straight..... don't you think?

I'll be seeing you


  1. Looking at the cover, most of them were dead, and the Honey Monster?....... :-D))))

    I do give them credit for specifying "Number Six" however. He was quite "English" really - continually complaining and only happy when he was left alone......... :-D

    Being English has changed somewhat since his days of course.

  2. Hello Moor,

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha {Laughter in the style of No.2-Leo McKern}

    I enjoyed your comment, particularly about how Number Six was continually complaining, and only happy when he was left alone.
    Yes, I have always thought Number six to be English, but there are times when I have my doubts. The use of American falpjacks being No.6's favourite dish. Okay, they are actually pancakes in the episode 'The Schizoid Man.' Then there is the use of the word 'inauguration' of Sir, mentioned in 'Fall out,' that's an Americanism isn't it? And in 'Free For All,' Number Six is going to 'run for office,' another Americanism, not 'stand for election' as we would say in Britain. And of course during Number Six' electoral speech from the stone boat in 'Free For All,' Number six uses the words 'winter, spring, summer, or fall.' Fall instead of autumn. And in 'It's Your Funeral' Number six buys Number thirty-Six a bag of candy, but in Britain we say bag of sweets! However if we'd seen someone bump into Number Six in the street, and Number Six had appologised, that would have proved he was English!

    But you are quite right, being English has changed since Number Six's day. And Great Britain has, over the ensuing years since 'the Priosner', has become somewhat Americanised!