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Wednesday 8 June 2016

Hooked on The Prisoner

  Before the Prisoner there was ‘Danger Man,’ and John Drake was my boyhood hero. So that when ‘Danger Man’ finished in 1966, and when ‘the Prisoner’ came along in 1967, to my mind Number 6 was John Drake. Yes there was a change in the character, but then incarceration in The Village would cause a change in anyone’s character. But at the time I never thought about that.
    And then there was the opening sequence, strong and powerful, my attention was captured with the first clash of thunder, dark clouds in the sky and a green, yellow nosed Lotus Seven {in black and white at the time} racing along that deserted road, or runway, depending on how you look at it. Little did I know then as I watched, riveted by the opening sequence, that I too had become a Prisoner!
   The whole series captured my imagination. And at that time it was uncomplicated to a child’s mind, it was an adventure. Yes there were questions, of course there were questions. Who was Number 2? Why did the Prisoner resign? What was the white balloon supposed to be? I don’t remember being frightened by Rover, after all I had watched ‘Quatermass and The Pit,’ on television and it did not frighten me, so why should a balloon be all that scary? I just wanted to know what it was. As I wanted to know which side ran The Village, and would Number 6 finally escape at the end.
   I remember thinking that during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ Number 6 and Nadia had actually escaped The Village. And felt deflated when Number 6 returned to his cottage. And then later ‘Many Happy Returns,’ and Number 6 did actually escape The Village. A dangerous sea voyage, and the gun runners were just that. It never occurred to me at the time that they might be working for The Village. But in the end he did return to his home in
London. Yes there was Mrs Butterworth, a kind lady who helped him on his way. It came as a shock to see her turn up in The Village as Number 2. It was also deflating to see Number 6 returned to The Village so easily, after having undergone such a struggle to escape in the first place. But at least Number 6, and more importantly, I knew the location of The Village!
   And so the episodes went on, and each week I was very eager to see what he would be going to do each week, what would happen to him next. At school there was no-one in my class who liked the Prisoner as I did. My parents didn’t like it, my father hated the series, so really it was a wonder I was allowed to watch it at all. Probably it was simply because we would watch all the ITC series at that time. But how was it all going to end? Well the Prisoner did come to a sudden pause, due to the fact that the screening of the series had caught up with the production, and so two episodes of ‘Danger Man’ ‘Koroshi’ and ‘Shinda Shima’ were screened to plug the two week gap. I cannot remember how I felt about this, I think I took it all in my stride, disappointed of course because of the break in the screening of ‘the Prisoner.’ But eventually there came ‘Fall Out,’ and the promise that all the questions generated by the previous sixteen episodes would be answered. I thought I would discover the identity to be that of John Drake, seeing as his name had never been used in the entire series. And it did puzzle me that no-one, not even Janet Portland would use his name. But alas I found that hardly any of my questions would be answered. Yes I did discover who Number 1 was, Number 6! And then the moment was gone! And when Number 6 was invited to address the members of the Assembly I thought right, now I’ll find out what all this is about. And was thoroughly disappointed when Number 6 said practically nothing! Then there was Rover, it seemed to me that it came from another planet, seen in a crater amid a misty atmosphere of an alien environment during ‘Fall Out.’ A touch of Quatermass II I thought in later years. An alien creature, being grown in a large dome!
   But then there it was, the closing credits to ‘Fall Out,’ and I was left more perplexed than I was before that final episode came along. If it wasn’t bad enough before, I was left trying to get my head round what I had seen in that final episode. And it was difficult trying to remember what I had seen, let alone make any sense of it. And there is was…..gone. It would not be until 1976 when I would see the series again, but ‘the Prisoner’ remained with me up until that time. I couldn’t remember all the details of the series of course, I had just general remembrances which remained in my mind. But there was one thing that was etched in my memory and that was the theme music. That I did not forget.
   The Prisoner had a profound effect upon me. At the time there were no deep meanings for me, it was more of an adventure. But since the age of 12 I have always kept The Prisoner in mind, I have never forgotten.

Be seeing you           

A Few of My Favourites And Least Favourites!      
Favourite Episode: For me that just has to be "Arrival." It sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the series.
Favourite No.2: Leo McKern, followed by Colin Gordon.
Favourite Actress: Nadia Gray.
Favourite Actor:   Colin Gordon
Favourite Scene:    The taxi scene in ‘Checkmate’ Number 6 has stolen a Mini-Moke and Number 8 after him.

Favourite Piece of Dialogue: From Arrival.
   Waitress “We’ll be open in a minute.”
   Prisoner “What’s the name of this place?”
   “You’re new here, aren’t you?”
   “Do you want breakfast?”
   At which point I always find myself saying “Yes, full English, with tea toast, and marmalade.”

Favourite character: No.51 the watchmaker, if only for that immortal line, “Must get on with my work!”

Least Favourite Episode: ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ there are far too many holes in the plot!

Least Favourite Character:
Janet Portland, she seems superfluous to the plot!

Least Favourite Moment: Nigel Stock playing the Prisoner

Be seeing you

1 comment:

  1. Hi David,
    Same history with Danger Man and The Prisoner!
    I never forgot Rover or those opening scenes or the wonderful music and the mystery that surrounded The Prisoner.
    I still like John Drake a whole lot better than any other spy...he's more intelligent, resourceful and a gentleman to the ladies.

    I sometimes wonder if The Prisoner was Patrick McGoohan's allegory of how he felt with all the public attention after Danger Man became so popular.