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Tuesday 24 April 2012

The Therapy Zone

All Our Prisoner Days - Part One

   You know its all very well readers sitting at their computers and reading this blog, and all the Prisoner-blog articles that go with it. Fans of the Prisoner all craving information...information....information and it comes quite easy to you doesn't it? Well it wasn't all so easy, information being just a touch of the keyboard away as it is today, oh no. It all started with foolscap size sheets of paper under the title of Alert. Multi-coloured sheets of foolscap size paper but with the constant black text, with not always perfect printing results, and black text on blue paper does not make for perfect reading you know. But at the time of the late 1970's to early 80's fans of the Prisoner were grateful, because there was nothing else, and there were those, a handful of people who were prepared to seek out and supply any such information they could on the matter of the Prisoner.
   Yes, I suppose I am feeling a little nostalgic, I do some times you know, when I look back and think how things used to be. Newsletters and magazines as Alert, Spokes, Escape, Tally Ho {around 20 in various guises} Village Observer, Miscellany Magazine, Prisoner Magazine, Number Six, In The Village, The Globe, Information, Free for All, Times and Danger Man. And there were the early books published on the subject of the Prisoner, The Official Prisoner Companion by Matthew White & Jaffer Ali {1988}, an excellent book which covers the series with episode synopsis, observations and much more. Dave Rogers-The Prisoner/Danger man {1989} another excellent book, which was then followed by Le Prisonnier by Alain Carraze and Helen Oswald, this French book was soon translated into English and published here in Great Britain by Virgin Books, which I feel is the better of the three books, with more accurate episode synopsis and containing some wonderful colour photographs.

   So whilst I am on a nostalgic trip, allow me to point out some Prisoner related events which have taken place since 1976, when an address was added after the screening of Fall Out in that year. I shall not use this persons name because it would not be right without his permission. Anyway when those who had seen this address appearing on their television screens, some of whom hot footed it to the given address.... arriving at 2am, or so the story goes. This resulted in a one page circular letter being sent out form the origin of the address to other interested parties in 1976, which then resulted in a one page Tally Ho response letter. So in bringing like minded people together, these fans of the prisoner set about forming Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society which was born on the 6th of January 1977, the following month a two page Tally Ho special edition letter was issued, and this was followed by Alert-6, multi-coloured foolscap size pages which was the first quarterly issue naming Six of One.
    On the 10th of October 1977 Angelo Muscat died, just a few days before the mini-convention at Cheltenham Town Hall. This was the first of any form of Prisoner-Convention. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis died on 9th of April 1978 at the age of 98. Having been cremated, Sir Clough's ashes were loaded into a rocket which was exploded over his village of Portmeirion. On the 28th of April 1978 both Portmeirion and Six of One saw the first full weekend Prisoner convention with events. October of the same year saw the Six of One event at The Thatched Barn with guest Ron Grainer, and a few days later on October 6th saw the London recording of the Prisoner EP with Ron Grainer
    The next Prisoner convention to be held at Portmeirion was on June 16th 1979, when filming was carried out on the production of By public Demand, a film which even had a film premier at the London ICA on August 31st in 1980. And on September 1st the film By Public Demand received a press screening, also at the London ICA. To be honest after watching By Public Demand, I could never understand why so much was made of this amateur film production. In fact I couldn't understand the film, which I suppose was in keeping with the Prisoner series itself. In fact it was not until the man behind the films production, who once paid a visit to my home, and as we sat and watched By Public Demand as the film was explained to me, did I then understand what the film was all about!
    Private Number was an independent fanzine first produced by the Suffolk Group in the Autumn of 1979.
    1980 saw the first Prisoner computer game, and in the following year Ron Grainer sadly died on the 21st of February 1981. Later in June of this year the hotel at Portmeirion was burned down, the fire believed to have been caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette. And on August 8th 1981, Bolton saw a mini Prisoner convention at the Last drop Village. November saw the final issues of Alert to be sent out from Cheltenahm, this was to be followed by Escape magazine the successor to Alert.
    Spring 1982 saw the very first Prisoner pop video to be filmed in Portmeirion by the band Altered Images. And later in the summer of 82 at the Scala Cinema a marathon screening of all the 17 episodes of the Prisoner were shown on the big screen. Also in the summer of 1982 Precision Video released the first two ever Prisoner Video's, one containing episodes The Arrival & The Schizoid man and the second Many Happy Returns, and not only on video but also on Beta-max system. October 25th 1982 the television programme Greatest Hits enjoyed members of Six of One: the prisoner appreciation society in the studio, along with special guest Patrick McGoohan, who enigmatically said to Mike Smith's question "What do you think about fans like these here today?" "I think it’s marvellous. And if they understand the Prisoner, perhaps they could explain it to me!"
  Yes very good Mr. McGoohan, very droll I thought when I first saw a recording of that programme.
    1983 saw the opening of a Prisoner shop at Portmeirion. Where one could get a certain amount of information, buy a colourful village cape and a copy of the Prisoner EP record if so desired.
   And there I must draw the first part of "All our Prisoner Days" to a close, but I'll be back another day to help draw your attention to those events of early Prisoner-Appreciation.

Be seeing you next time.

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