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Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Coliseum Cinema At Portmadog

   I have read on the Unmutual website that the Coliseum cinema at Portmadog is now up for sale, as either a going concern, or for re-development. The Coliseum is, as fans of 'the Prisoner' will know, very much part of the history of 'the Prisoner.' as it was at this cinema that each days film rushes of 'the Prisoner' were screened at night to Patrick McGoohan and other members of the production crew in September 1966, and the following March in 1967. It was Clough Williams-Ellis who organised a screening of 'Arrival' the very first preview of the episode at the cinema. Clough sent out invitations to all his friends, High Sheriffs, even the Chief Constable of Caernarfon, and Director/Producer David Tomblin also attended. Clough had sent for a 35mm print of the film, which was the only print in existence at that time, so extreme care had to be taken of it, being the only copy. The preview took place on a Sunday evening, even though the cinema had no license for six days, and they were not allowed to show films on a Sunday. But the event went ahead anyway, and was a great success, and that was the first screening of ‘the Prisoner’ anywhere, a world premier at Portmadog!
   In the late 1980's into the early 1990's screenings the 'the Prisoner' once again took place at the cinema on an annual basis during 'the Prisoner' Conventions. I recall how we would leave Portmeirion to assemble at the Coliseum before ten o'clock when the cinema closed after it's regular film screening of the evening, so that two episodes of 'the Prisoner' could be screened. Frank Ratcliff, a representative of Polygram attended each Convention, and brought the film of two episodes with him.
   It was always exciting to queue up outside the cinema, with the anticipation of watching 'the Prisoner' on the "big screen," sometimes to the ridicule of the local towns people! And it was thrilling to watch an episode on the "big screen," in fact 'the Prisoner' was made for it, as there is so much more detail that can be seen, which is sometimes missed on the small screen. I say one episode, because although two episodes were screened, because of both the lateness of the hour, and the fact that my wife and I had been busy all that day working on re-enactments, we used to fall asleep during the screening of the second episode!

Be seeing you


  1. Hello David,
    I was just perplexed as to why the local people would ridicule ?
    The Coliseum is a lovely Art Deco building and cheap at £300K - I guess it needs renovating.
    be in touch,

    1. Hello Anna,
      I'm afraid you had to be there to understand what I mean by ridicule, it's because of who we were, fans of 'the Prisoner.' Locals passing by used to shout things at us, especially from passing cars.

      I'm not surprised that the cinema was not saved. It closed simply because it could not attract enough customers, not even in the summer months. It is a lovely Art Deco building, and it might be cheap at £300k, but is the cinema really a going-concern? The cinema closed because it wasn't making money. I couldn't see that changing even if it was to remain as a cinema. Pity really, as it is a piece in the history of 'the Prisoner.'

      Very kind regards