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Friday, 6 March 2015

The Prisoner How Was It?

    Compelling I’d say, powerful, and mind captivating. ‘The Prisoner’ certainly captivated my mind and imagination the first time I saw it. Patrick McGoohan certainly knew what he was about when he came up with ‘the Prisoner.’ I will not say he created it, because there are many others who worked on the series who also had their input. Director David Tomblin, the many scriptwriters, and script editor George Markstein, they all made their contribution.
    Perhaps my mind was weak, impressionable, maybe that’s why I was so captivated by ‘the Prisoner.’ But surely not, after all, ‘the Prisoner’ was never meant as a children’s television series. So why did I watch ‘the Prisoner? Because I had watched ‘Danger Man, and John Drake was my boyhood hero. So it stood to reason having watched ‘Danger Man’ I would watch ‘the Prisoner,’ as to my mind John Drake was Number 6. It was as simple as that. Rightly or wrongly I’ve lived with that belief ever since. Well it seemed right to me at that age. And when one has lived with something for a very, very long time, it is virtually impossible to break that belief. And besides which, I shouldn’t have to.
    I remember watching ‘Fall Out’ and afterwards wondering what it was all about. The idea that there was anything allegorical about it never crossed my mind, in fact at that age I doubt I’d even heard the word. I did realise that the Prisoner had not escaped, but that was about all. And even years after when I managed to watch the series again, I still never figured ‘Fall Out’ to be anything else but a James Bond style ending, something which McGoohan claimed he didn’t want for the series. But there you go, you nail your interpretation to the mast and let others think what they like. No doubt you have  heard of the pied piper of Hamlyn, claiming to be a “rat catcher,” who promised the Mayor of Hamlyn to resolve the problem of the town’s rats. The Mayor promised to pay the piper for the removal of all the rats. Despite the piper’s success, by playing his pipe and luring all the rats to drown in the river. The Mayor reneged on his promise to pay the piper. To which the piper swore to have his revenge. While the people of Hamlyn were in church, the piper returned playing his pipe, and in doing so, attracted all the town’s children out of the town, and under the spell of the pipe they followed him into a cave and were never to be seen again! Well Patrick McGoohan never worked as a “rat catcher,” and as far as it can be said, didn’t play a pipe either. But perhaps Patrick McGoohan had the same qualities as the pipe piper, in the way he captivated so many young minds with ‘the Prisoner.’ Because I was not the only one of my generation at the age of 12 years to be so captivated. What’s more there were younger children than I who were watching ‘The Prisoner’ series at the time, who were also captivated by it, and have remained thus so. And it didn’t stop there. Children’s young minds over the years and decades since, have been captivated by ’the Prisoner.’ And so it goes on today 
   We all place different interpretations on ‘the Prisoner,’ perhaps we put too much interpretation into what is basically a television series. And yet there is the other end of the scale, enjoying ‘the Prisoner’ as pure entertainment and escapism. Escape to ‘the Prisoner that’s a good one, why on earth should anyone do that? Perhaps it’s just too fascinating to let go, I for one have found it to be so. Certainly The Village is a very attractive environment, just as long as its not you who is suffering at the hands of the doctors in the hospital. But as an ordinary citizen who no-one bothers, a simple painter or gardener there perhaps can be no better place to work. And yet is there not the danger of making the mistake of not distinguishing the difference between The Village and Portmeirion? They may look the same, but the one a place of fiction, and the other a holiday village.
    And so having been drawn to, and captivated by ‘the Prisoner,’ what has held me, and others like me, captive for these past 48 years? For myself, perhaps at one time there might have been something missing in my life, and its quite possible I found that missing something, that missing link perhaps in ‘the Prisoner.’ Whatever that link might have been. 


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