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Monday 19 March 2012

The Prisoner In Production

    A question was raised the other day when I was asked about what information there is regarding the behind the scenes of the Prisoner, and information on the production of the series.
    There are certain books which have been written which might help with this subject, although any written in-depth research on the matter of the production of the Prisoner series is somewhat thin on the ground. However you might wish to acquire such books as; The Prisoner of Portmeirion and Portmeirion Prisoner Production both by Max Hora. The Prisoner in Portmeirion by Roger Langley and The Prisoner In production again by Roger Langley. Also Inside the Prisoner by Ian Rakoff, and there are certain issues of the magazines 'Number Six' and 'In The Village' which contain transcripts of interviews of members of the cast who worked on the production of the Prisoner all of which gives some small incite into the production of the series.
    Alternatively you can search out copies of a number of video documentary productions produced by a certain individual Mr. Steven Ricks under the name of TR7 Productions. The first of which was the two volume video The Prisoner Investigated Vol.1-2 hosted by Actor Peter Howell-the Professor in The General, with Actor James Bree and special guest Kenneth Griffith-No.2 in The Girl Who Was Death and the president in Fall Out. And contains interviews with some of the crew members who worked on the series, along with certain film footage never before seen at the time.
    The Prisoner Investigated was quickly followed up with the Prisoner In-Depth Vol.1-6. Again more interviews with members of the cast, and containing two of the unused Prisoner scripts The Outsider and Don't get Yourself Killed.
    The Prisoner Inspired which breaks away from the production tapes to look at what inspired Patrick McGoohan to make the Prisoner series.
    The Prisoner In production uses some of the rarest Prisoner film in existence Steven Ricks re-traces events surrounding the location shoot.
    And finally the Prisoner In Conclusion which draws a close on the extensive research carried out into the production of the Prisoner.
    The above listed video's I have watched over a period of time. Their content can be recommended, if not the standard of video and production quality, and it has to be said that I could not stand to watch any of the video's for much more than an hour at a time. This can be put down to the fact of the matter in hand, that many, in fact nearly all of the interviewees, are sat down in a chair with a camera pointing at them as questions are asked of them, which does nothing to help hold the viewers attention for long spells at a time.
    However despite the faults of the production quality of the videos, and those of the interviewers filming techniques, Mr. Steven Ricks is to be heartily commended for his work in preserving such behind the scenes information, behind the scenes film footage, amateur film footage taken at the time of filming on location at Portmirion. The time, trouble Mr. Ricks went to in tracking down, and persuading actors and actresses who worked on the Prisoner to become involved with the project, and of course amassing film footage of the interviews with members of the cast and crew who worked on the Prisoner. Without endeavour and dedication such as this, there would be no kind of record of the production of the Prisoner series at all. This because most of those interviewed are long deceased.

Be seeing you


  1. Many segments from those video's are on youtube, or have been. I agree that the assemblage of interview material is admirable.

    But....... much of the *story* the commentary tries to tell is at odds with what the people say. One clip I particularly recall has a long preamble about how there was a "writers guide" painstakingly put together by our friend George Markstein, and then there is interview footage with the various script-writers - Tilsley, Feely are two of them I recall - every one of whom denies ever seeing a "writers guide"... :-D))


    Watching that video snippet is quite odd because the preamble commentary is seeking to present "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling" as having been written sometime after the Spring of 1967, when it is made apparent by Mr. Tilsley's opening words that he actually had the script in the Autumn of 1966. The video commentary is often poor journalism.

    Having made that complaint however, the Ricks Tapes are far more useful than the appalling, but commercially produced "Prisoner Companion" videotape.

    Unlike you, I actually think the Six Into One documentary that Channel 4 produced, is probably the best single piece of historical accuracy. The presenation is a little fey, but the content generally very accurate and succinct (with a few errors/misunderstandings). It does also include George's big moment in a taxi-cab..... :-D

    1. I was only 21, it was the 1990s and edited on linear domestic video. Give us a break.

    2. Hello Steve,
      Good to hear from you after all this time. I trust you are well.
      If it had not been for you, and your sterling work regarding 'the Prisoner', then so much would have been lost forever.

      I understand you are doing other things these days, have found yourself a new niche, good for you.

      Very kind regards

  2. Hello Moor,

    I understood that each scriptwriter was supplied with a writers guide, but we know how stories get exaggerated, taken out of context etc, and we can really only take what people say. I don't know about a writers guide, but I do actually have a copy of ITC'S 'Guide To The Prisoner,' a 25 page document about the series. Also a copy of 'Story Information: The Prisoner,' also produced by the ITC {Incorporated Television Company LTD}.

    Thank you for the video link from YouTube. I do have all of the interviews with production crew, members of the cast, and scriptwriters all on video in the video series 'The Prisoner In Depth' 'The Prisoner Investigated' 'The Prisoner in Production' 'The Prisoner On Location' 'The Prisoner In Conclusion.' they are not of the best quality, but they do contain a great deal of information. And as you say, are more useful that that absolutely appalling 'Prisoner Companion' video, I watched it once........

    I was disappointed with that 'Six Into One' documentary. There was too much messing about, and were trying to be too clever for their own good. I recall sitting up late one night when it was originally screened after 'Fall Out.' I thought I was going to learn something, well I did a bit. But generally I thought the whole thing being a waste of time, and of a good opportunity.

    Kind Regards
    Be seeing you