Fictionally speaking is it a pity that ‘Many Happy Returns’ does not precede ‘The Chimes of Big Ben,’ because that way Number 6 would encounter the Colonel and Thorpe first. The roll of film, his photographic evidence of The Village, would have been developed, and Number 6 would have made his report of The Village during that de-briefing session. He would have been unaware that his former employers were involved with his incarceration in The Village. Then when Number 6 thought he had returned to London for a second time during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben,’ he encountered both the Colonel and Fotheringay and underwent another debriefing session, and he asked the Colonel “Don’t you know about The Village?” “Ah yes, The Village” said the Colonel. And perhaps because of the Colonel’s questioning, together with his apparent scepticism about The Village, perhaps this made Number 6 doubt the Colonel “Surely you know about it?” Fictionally speaking it could be interpreted that Number 6 is asking the Colonel if he knows about the Village, that surely he knows about The Village, because he as been de-briefed about The Village before. And because of that, there should be a file on The Village due to that de-briefing with the Colonel and Thorpe. But perhaps the Colonel hadn’t read The Village file, or maybe the file had been spirited away, filed away in one of those grey filing cabinets seen during the opening sequence of ‘the Prisoner.’
To sum up then, had ‘Many Happy Returns’ preceded ‘The Chimes of Big Ben,’ there would have been no need for Number 6 to make mention of his meeting with the Colonel and Fortheringay in The Village, because it wouldn’t have happened by that time. And with ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ following ‘Many Happy Returns,’ it’s reasonable to assume that Number 6 would assume that the Colonel in ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ should have known about The Village because of Number 6’s former report made to the Colonel in ‘Many Happy Returns,’ so there should have been no need for a second de-briefing. That would have accounted for Number 6’s apparent annoyance at having to repeat himself!
Of course ‘the Prisoner’ series is set in its screening order, or library order and there can be no disputing that. However, with each episode of the series being a self contained story, this makes it is possible for the viewer to screen 14 of the 17 episodes of ‘the Prisoner’ in any order.
Be seeing you