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Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Prisoner – It’s Childs Play! II

   During the episode of ‘Hammer Into Anvil,’ Number 6 goes down onto the beach in order to send a message in Morse code by heliograph. Number 6 has his Observers closely watching Number 6. As Number 6 sends his message, Number 2 orders an Observer to get the Morse code down. When Number 2 asks the Observer if he got the Morse code down and what it said, the Observer read what he had written but appeared reluctant to do so “Pat a cake, pat a cake bakers man, bake me a cake as fast as you can.” Number 2 assumed it must be a special code. In the cipher room Number 2 had the message put through a computer in order to break the code, and what came out was “Pat a cake pat a cake……” but that is what was put in, and that’s what came out! If it is a new code it appears the computer isn’t programmed for it!

    “Pat a cake, pat a cake, baker’s man
bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Pat it and prick it and mark it with a ‘B’,
And put in the oven for baby and me.”

 “Pat a cake pat a cake baker’s man” is perhaps one of the oldest, and perhaps most widely known of all English nursery rhymes, it was an old folk song. The earliest traceable publication of this nursery rhyme appears in Thomas D’Urfey’s play ‘the Campaigners in 1698, in which a nurse says to her little charges; “Pat a cake pat a cake Bakers man, so I will master as I can, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and throw't into the Oven.”
   The song pat a cake is always accompanied by a clapping game much loved by children everywhere, and the actions which accompany pat a cake are probably representative of patting the cake as bakers do, or for the ritual of passing this particular song from one generation to the next.
   Next time, ‘The Girl Who Was Death,’ and nursery rhymes which are far from Childs play!

Be seeing you


  1. Hi David,

    I too noticed that there are a lot of nursery rhymes used in The Prisoner.
    I think they are Patrick McGoohan's little joke in one way, becauae he is telling us "children" a story in each episode...
    Perhaps he was telling us that we are like children and have to be entertained...
    Perhaps he was using the nursery rhymes in certain scenes as a tool to illustrate innocence...or childishness...or to pick up the pace of the story.

    I think the scene where Little Bo Peep is told that she always knows where her sheep are, was a home Number 6 is letting her know that he knows that she hasn't been able to keep tabs on HIM !



    1. Hello Karen,
      We all reach second childishness eventually according to William Shakespeare, and we all love a good story, and that’s the thing about ‘the Prisoner,’ each episode is a self contained story. What’s more, apart from ‘Arrival,’ Once Upon A time,’ and ‘Fall Out’ its possible to place the remaining episodes in whatever order one chooses, and it doesn’t ruin the series. In fact ‘Fall Out’ could easily be placed before ‘Arrival’ as well as keeping it at the end. And yes we do like being entertained, so at times it’s good not to think about ‘the Prisoner’ and watch it as pure escapism!
      Over time I have come to the opinion that ‘the Prisoner’ is best viewed through the eyes of a child, because as adults we do tend to over complicate the series!

      Yes, that’s very good and you might well be right in regard to Number 6’s remark to Number 240, that she hasn’t been able to keep complete tabs on him. If she and other Observers had been able to keep tabs on Number 6 all the time, he’d never have been able to get away with anything!

      Be seeing you