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Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Prisoner In The Spotlight!


    It is quite remarkable how much detail went into ‘the Prisoner’ and how much attention was paid to at least the first few episodes. For example there are the various issues of ‘The Tally Ho.’ Then there are the labels of the tinned ‘Village Foods’ not to mention the whole layout and the stocking of the General store. The magazines in the newspaper rack along with copies of ‘The Tally Ho,’ and the prices on the goods for sale in the General Stores. For example did you know that a broom costs 4 work units? Other labelling apart from ‘Village foods’ is ‘Village sweets’ ‘Village cooking oil’ ‘Village needles’ and ‘Village film’ most of which appears on the screen only briefly so that they are hardly noticeable at all, which makes such details all the more remarkable when you think of all the hard work gone into it by members of the production crew. With jars of sweets, boxes of chocolates, plastic boats, beach balls, lilos and the like, all for sale at various kiosks, along with the General Stores.
   Of course all these tiny details have been observed via ‘The General’ and DVD’s of the series. However back in the late 1960’s and 70’s there were very few home video recorders, and certainly no DVD’s and re-mastered film, which today enables such close scrutiny of ‘the Prisoner’ series. Back then in the good old black and white days of television it was all live transmissions so to speak. Once an episode had been transmitted and viewed it was gone. That went of course for the whole ‘Prisoner’ series, which left the view wondering what it was all about and having to wait until the next possible transmission of ‘the Prisoner’ which was for me some nine years.
   After I had watched ‘the Prisoner’ for the first time in 1967-68 it wasn’t until 1976 that I was given the pleasure of watching the series again three times, on ITV’s regional network via Anglia, Central and Yorkshire television. Living in the county of Lincolnshire I was able to tune into all three television stations, which fortunately for me showed it consecutively.
So at that time back then all that fine detail and hard work which was gone into ‘the Prisoner’ would, in the late 60’s into the 70’s, have been lost on the viewers, and that’s what is so remarkable about it.
    In addition there is always something happening in the background. Take Cobbs funeral in ‘Arrival’ for example; the cortege makes its way through The Village and along the beach to the cemetery. Number 9 who followed the cortege at a discreet distance now stands watching from the top of the cliffs.
    Number 6 is also present “Friend of yours, you knew him?”
    Number 9 “No.”
    “You’re crying.”
    “Funerals make me emotional.”
    “Even of those people you don’t know?”
    “Yes.”
    “I knew Cobb, I’d like to help.”
    “He’s dead!”
    “He was a friend of mine, we met some time ago” Number 6 tells her
    “How do I know I can trust you?” Number 9 asks.
    “Can I trust you?”
    “You know how he died?”
    “He jumped from a window….. sorry Had you known him long?”
    “No, just a short while.”
    “Where did you meet, here?”
    “Yes, yes.”
    “Cobb was a good man.”
    “Get back quickly” Number 9 tells him as a bell in the nearby lighthouse tolls.
    “When can we talk again?”
    “We’d better not” she tells him.
    “We must.”
    Twelve o’clock at the concert!” Number 9 tells him.
    Now all through this interview the funeral has been taking place on the beach just below the cliff and the coffin is actually placed into the open grave, which is then back filled by two grave diggers!
   What makes this so remarkable is that I myself had not noticed this background sequence in all the times I have viewed ‘Arrival.’

Be seeing you

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