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Thursday 16 July 2015

Thought For The Day

    A friend of mine wrote in a letter to me that fandom for ‘the Prisoner’ is dying, and is in need of new blood! I’m not at all sure what he bases that on. As far as I am aware fandom for ‘the Prisoner’ is very much alive and well. Admittedly there are far fewer members in Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society these days to what there has been in bygone days. And fewer enthusiasts attend ‘the Prisoner’ Conventions these days. But can ‘Prisoner’ fandom be measured in those terms? All one has to do is to look at all the websites on the World-wide web to see how fandom for ‘the Prisoner’ is still alive and kicking. Perhaps the majority of enthusiasts no longer choose to become physically involved, but do so via the Internet, through forums, and social sites, and yes, in the reading of my blog. And then on the other hand there are the members of the German Prisoner Group. They are extremely active, holding their own meetings, carrying out their own activities relating to ‘the Prisoner, as well as a large contingent of that group attending the annual ‘Prisoner’ Convention in Portmeirion.
   But people do change, they do drift away from ‘the Prisoner,’ and move onto other new interests, I know of a few people who have lost all interest in the series over the past few years. And that is natural. Back in the late 1980’s and well into the 1990’s I recall how a strong support there has been in
France. For those years there was a far stronger fandom for ‘the Prisoner’ than there was here in Britain. Or if not, then the French enthusiasts had certainly taken ‘Le Prisonnier’ to there hearts more than we had in Britain. And perhaps that is true today, that fandom for ‘the Prisoner’ is stronger in countries abroad than it is here in Britain.
   I used to be a very active member of Six of One for fifteen years. But having since left that society, I have been quietly working away with ‘the Prisoner’ always in mind. And perhaps that is the same today of the majority of enthusiasts for the series. Maybe they do not wish to be part of a group, club, or society linked to ‘the Prisoner.’ And because of that there is the belief that fandom is dying. I do not believe that. Whether one is sitting alone reading material related to ‘the Prisoner’ on-line, or indeed watching the series on line. Or being a member of a group, club, or society, fandom for ‘the Prisoner’ is alive and kicking. Numbers do not matter as much as the individuals out there doing their bit in the name of ‘the Prisoner,’ in whatever form that might take.

Be seeing you


  1. Dear David
    A very interesting post which has made me think about this subject a great deal. I have to say I agree with your friend when he says that fandom for TP is dying, certainly organised fandom e.g. Six of One. Firstly, I think one of the main reasons is the internet. In days of yore if you wanted to find out more about a TV series, pop group etc then you joined a fan club (or appreciation society in the case of TP). I remember really looking forward to the quarterly Six of One mailouts for the articles and letters from other enthusiasts. Nowadays however I feel that websites, and in particular your excellent blog, are the best ways to find out about the series, or just immerse yourself in the ideas it generates. Therefore I think fans nowadays tend to be more insular and individual (perhaps more in keeping with the spirit of the series – freedom of the individual?!). But then again the organised events were great fun and created many happy memories, not just the society as a whole but also the numerous local groups (we even had one at Salford Uni – any ‘events’ we had tended to involve plenty of boozing! Ha, Ha! But we also found time to watch videos of the series, other 60s programmes etc ……..when we were sober!).
    Sadly, TP as with many other things I am fond of (e.g. 60s TV, hippy culture, 1980s music) are slipping further and further into the past. And no matter how positive we are, interest in anything does tend to wane with time. I can’t believe we are approaching the 50th anniversary of the TP, even though I am a 2nd generation fan who discovered the series during the 1980s. When the remake of TP (with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen) was being planned I hoped that this would lead to a whole new wave of interest in the original series. However, even though the remake was different and interesting I felt it lacked that ‘certain something’ which captivated me about the original. A combination of its charismatic and enigmatic star, the beautiful and mysterious village (Portmeirion), and also the fast-paced scripts and wittiness. As with The Avengers I feel that it was just a case of right people, right place, right time – something that just cannot be recaptured years later, however much you try. I think this explains why remakes in general don’t tend to be successful. In my mind there will only ever be one Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) and one John Steed (Patrick Macnee)!
    P.S. It would be interesting to see if a repeat of the original series on a popular channel at a reasonable time of day/ evening would generate any further interest.

    1. Dear Nadia, {Part one}

      I enjoyed reading your comment very much, and you make some very valid points. Certainly as you say, organised activities within Prisoner fandom is not as wide spread as it used to be. There was once a time when local groups attached to Six of One operated the length and breadth of the British Isles, but now they are mostly gone, I think one or two still remain. The London and South East Group is one, and the Birmingham Group although I’m not too sure about that one. And these groups although linked to Six of One, the groups acted independently of the society. But those were very different times. And since Six of One was formed somewhere in the area of 50,000 plus people have passed through their books at one time or another. And yet even at the society’s best it only boasted some 2,500-3,000 at any one time. But that was a gauge as to the strength of Prisoner fandom, but now it is impossible to do any sort of “head count.” Today Six of One has but one organised activity that of the Prisoner Convention, and even those are not as they once were. And I don’t think anyone could expect them to be when taking things into consideration.
      I myself was a member of Six of one for 15 years, and a very active one. Like yourself I enjoyed receiving the quarterly mailings which were always packed with material. I enjoyed reading the letters from fellow members and the varied articles within the Six of One’s: The Prisoner Appreciation Society’s magazine. In fact I would read each magazine from cover to cover, put it down for a while, then read it all again. However that all came to an end when I allowed my subscription lapse on purpose after 2001. But that didn’t stop my appreciation for ‘the Prisoner,’ in fact if anything my appreciation for the series increased dramatically. Over a time I have been contacted by enthusiasts for ‘the Prisoner’ who have never even heard of Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society, and others who do not feel the need to subscribe to such a society. And yet that doesn’t make them any less enthusiasts for that.
      As far as organised Prisoner related events go, back in May there was an organised Mind Mash event in London, with guests Ian Rakoff and John S. Smith. Also there was the usual London Prisoner locations walkabout, Borehamwood Prisoner location tour, and the ‘Danger Man’ tour.
      Yes the emergence of the Internet has had an effect on fandom for ‘The Prisoner,’ if it were not for the Internet I wouldn’t be writing my Prisoner based blog. And many, many other enthusiasts wouldn’t have been able to create their own websites for ‘the Prisoner.’ and yes I would agree with you, that nowadays fans are more insular and individual than they used to be, I’m one of them. In fact just because I no longer become “involved” with Six of One, I was once described by one member as being a “recluse!” Well I answer that with the fact that this recluse writes his Prisoner blog read in 158 countries all around the world. Have written 3 Prisoner based manuscripts which I look to have published. And spent four and a half years researching both ‘the Prisoner’ and related material, having made a number of new discoveries about the series. I would ask that particular member of Six of One what he has done since 2001 apart from going to Prisoner Conventions?! The point I’m trying to make is, that there are many, many, many creative enthusiasts for ‘the Prisoner’ out there, perhaps more than there ever has been. And they use the Internet to express their creative skills and enthusiasm. What’s more there are numerous celebrities who are fans of ‘the Prisoner.’ And new countries are discovering ‘the Prisoner’ for the first time, my blog readership statistics tell me that.

      More to follow

    2. Dear Nadia, {part two}

      With regard to THEPRIS6NER series of 2009 with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen, I realised very early on that the series was different. And I revelled in that, I was excited by it. And I hoped that enthusiasts for the original series would watch it with an open mind, and give it a chance. Unfortunately few did. I know of one person who switched off after a mere ten minutes! That’s not giving it a chance. If one watches THEPRIS6NER and at the end thinks it’s a load of old rubbish then that’s fair enough. But to hang it before giving the series a fair trial……And yet the early animosity towards THEPRIS6NER has been waning. A few people who have been reading my writings on the series say I’ve made the series sound exciting. So they watched the series again and now can appreciate it. And I know of a few people who have found the original series because of the 2009 series.
      I think that the days when ‘the Prisoner’ generates a new large wave of interest as it used to do in the past has gone. I should like to think that ITV will re-screen ‘the Prisoner’ at a reasonable time in the evening, on ITV1 for the 50 anniversary of the series. But it won’t happen. Over the years ‘the Prisoner’ has failed to generate the television audience enough to screen it on ITV1. It’s more likely, if at all, to be screened on ITV4. But even then that is unlikely to generate new interest. It’s not like it used to be in the days when ‘the Prisoner’ might be re-screened on Channel 4 so that we can watch the series. Since the series release on Channel 5 video back in 1986, the series has become more readily available on DVD, Blu-ray, and on-line. Anyone who is likely to become a fan of ‘the Prisoner’ no longer has to wait for the series to be screened on television.
      I agree with you that with ‘the Prisoner’ it was the right people at the right time, with Patrick McGoohan as the driving force. Something like that can never be recaptured years after, that’s why writer of THEPRIS6NER Bill Gallagher didn’t try to. He just reinterpreted, and re-visualised it. But there is more of the original series in the 2009 series than one might think, if you look for it. I too was once of the opinion that there was only one Number 6, Patrick McGoohan, I am no longer of that opinion.
      I do not expect you to agree with me, but it’s an interesting subject, fandom for ‘the Prisoner.’

      Very best regards