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Tuesday 2 August 2016

Playing Their Part!

    “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts……….”
                                             {William Shakespeare}

    It’s the same with ‘the Prisoner,’ actors and actresses have their exits and entrances, and in their time may play more than one part. In ‘Arrival’ Oliver MacGreevy for example, he enjoys two entrances as both the electrician, and a gardener. The question is, in playing the electrician and gardener is MacGreevy playing the one role or two? The electrician and gardener are either identical twins, clones, or doppelgangers, so we may assume that MacGreevy is playing the same role but in different situations. While Dene Cooper plays Number 113b the photographer in ‘Free For All,’ as well as Number 113c the operator of The Tally Ho dispenser. Again the photographer and dispenser of The Tally Ho are either identical twins, clones, or doppelgangers. So is Dene Cooper, like Oliver McaGreevy, playing two separate roles, or the same role twice? The same relates to Patrick McGoohan in ‘The Schizoid Man,’ but we know that McGoohan plays both roles, but at the same time so does his stunt double Frank Maher! The three actors named here have one thing in common within ‘the Prisoner,’ they all play the same character twice in the same episode! Two further actors play the same character of Number 2, but in separate episodes, Leo McKern and Colin Gordon. Obviously there can be no mistaking Leo in both Number 2 roles, however there has been some discussion of whether Colin Gordon’s Number 2 in ‘A B and C’ is the same character in ‘The General.’ I would say there is no question of that at all, after all both Gordon’s Number 2 drinks milk, in all probability suffering from a stomach ulcer. Admittedly there is a difference in confidence between Number 2 of ‘The General,’ and ‘A B and C,’ but after the events of ‘The General’ I would have been surprised if his confidence had not taken a beating. And then he was faced with extracting information from Number 6, seeing as ‘The General’ was produced before ‘A B and C.’ While actress Bee Duffell also plays the same character, a psychiatrist, in two separate episodes, ‘Dance of The Dead,’ and ‘Checkmate.’
    Georgina Cookson is perhaps a unique actress in ‘the Prisoner,’ as she plays the same character in the same episode ‘Many Happy Returns,’ but in two different locations! In London as Mrs. Butterworth, and in The Village as Number 2. Mrs. Butterworth has a housemaid by the name of Martha played by Grace Arnold, Grace later appears in ‘It’s Your Funeral’ as Number 36 who has a sweet tooth, and therefore unable to go a day without her sweets. I like to think that Grace plays the same character in both those episodes. However that would depend on whether or not Mrs. Butterworth brought her housemaid with her to The Village, or left Martha behind when she left! And writing of house maids, in ‘Dance of The Dead,’ Patsy Smart plays a housemaid who makes Number 6 his nightcap of hot chocolate. Previously Patsy played the role of a waitress at the café who offers the Prisoner breakfast and coffee on the morning of his arrival in The Village. However Patsy is dressed differently in both scenes, also the number and badge are different. Both are indications that Pasty Smart plays two different characters in two different episodes. Whereas Dennis Shaw, the shopkeeper Number 56, or is it 19, in ‘Arrival’ does play the same character again in ‘Checkmate,’ of that there can be no doubt. And yet in the case of Michael Miller as Number 93 a one time self confessed disharmonised citizen, he was previously Number 250 a guardian or prefect. Later to take his seat on the benches of the Assembly in ‘Fall Out,’ who takes to his feet in order to describe Number 48’s shortcomings! It appears that Michael Miller has three entrances in three different episodes as three different characters, as the change in number might suggest. Either that, or its the same character who having fallen from grace as a guardian, finds that confession is good for the soul, and mending his disharmonious ways, finds himself promoted to a position on the Assembly as a delegate for anarchists!
    Lucy Griffiths plays two unrelated characters in different episodes. As Number 50 one of the three members of the Arts and Crafts Awards Committee, and in the later episode of ‘Dance of The Dead’ she plays Number 30 a medic who encounters Number 6 masquerading as a doctor in a corridor in the Town Hall. She hands him a white envelope containing a termination order against Roland Walter Dutton which he promises to pass on to Number 2 when he sees her. Another actor who appears to play two apparently unrelated characters in two different episodes is Patrick Cargill. As Thorpe in ‘Many Happy Returns’ he is a sceptic, while as Number 2 in ‘Hammer Into Anvil’ he’s a paranoiac. Patrick Cargill said that Thorpe is not supposed to be the same character as Number 2. That may well be true, however Number 2 had to be recruited from somewhere within the British Civil Service, so why not recruit a man who had had a previous dealing with Number 6, man who might relish dealing with Number 6 in The Village. But sadly life was not kind to Thorpe in The Village, because he was afraid of failure, he was afraid of his masters, which in turn affected him so badly that it brought on a paranoid sate of mind. In effect it wasn’t enemies and conspiracies against The Village he became paranoid about. It was supposed enemies and conspiracies against himself! So according to Patrick Cargill he may have been playing two different characters in two different episodes. Fictionally they could have been the same character, but later played with a character flaw, as life in The Village may not have suited Thorpe. It might not have been what he had expected!
    Christopher Benjamin makes his first entrance in ‘Arrival’ as Number 20,’ later appointed assistant to Number 2 during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben.’ And later still, having escaped the confines of The Village, Benjamin appears as Potter in ‘The Girl Who Was Death.’ Benjamin once said of the character of Potter, that he is not the same as Potter in ‘Danger Man’s’ ‘Koroshi,’ which is fair enough. But there’s no reason why the character of Potter cannot also be the Labour Exchange Manager, or Number 2’s assistant. Either that or Christopher Benjamin is playing three different parts in ‘the Prisoner.’ I suppose it’s a question of interpretation, which in that case it could be either! Another actor to have three entrances and exits, or should that be four, in three separate episodes of ‘the Prisoner,’ is Alexis Kanner. As Number 8, and the Kid, then as a cockney photographer, and finally as Number 48, of whom it was said that he was with them, but that then he went and gone. It might be imagined that Number 48 in ‘Fall Out’ could have been the former Number 8. But Number 8 committed suicide in ‘Living In Harmony,’ so that’s not possible. So Alexis Kanner actually played several parts in ‘the Prisoner,’ certainly more than most! Kenneth Griffith makes a brief appearance as a frustrated Number 2, who has to sit comfortably and listen to Number 6 telling all those watching, a blessed fairytale! And yet Kenneth does make another entrance credited as the President, or British High Court judge. Finally there is Peter Swanwick as Number 26-the Supervisor. He has several entrances and exits throughout ‘the Prisoner,’ even though it’s not in person! Because on two fronts Peter is rather unique. Firstly, as a character he is the most constant of Supervisors, and secondly as an actor he appears throughout ‘the Prisoner,’ from the moment he stood in the Control Room watching the wall screen showing the maid-Number 66 with the Prisoner in his cottage, to the moment he takes his seat on the assembly in ‘Fall Out,’ even when there are times he appears only through the use of stock film footage, or snippets of film taken from previous scenes.
    Basil Hoskins makes his entrance as Number 14, not only as Number 2’s willing assistant, but also during the bout of “Kosho” with Number 6, and makes his exit through the French door of Number 6’s cottage! However Basil Hoskins must surely be unique in playing his role as Number 14, because he is the only actor in ‘the Prisoner’ to appear in exactly the same scene in two separate episodes of ‘Hammer Into Anvil,’ and ‘It’s Your Funeral.’ Also the appearance of the character Number 14 appears to be replicated in ‘It’s Your Funeral’ by actor Mark Burns as Number 22. Although the numbers are different, there is a distinct likeness between Hoskins and Burns, what’s more the two characters are dressed identically!
    Frederick Piper who plays the part of an ex-Admiral-Number 66 in ‘Arrival,’ sits at a table on the lawn of the Old People’s Home awaiting a chess opponent {later he plays chess with Number 6} claiming to have sailed the Stone boat many a time. And yet when it comes to the character of the Ex-Admiral-Number 66 making an appearance by the Free Sea in the same episode, he is played by someone else!
   John Cazabon who plays the character of a chemist supposedly living in a cave on the outskirts of The Village, who administers a drug to Number 6, through his alcoholic drink during the election. Then in the ultimate episode of the series John makes another entrance as Number…..well we cannot see his number as it’s obscured by the umbrella, his hand and the handle of the umbrella he is holding, hence John is simply credited as “Umbrella man.” {Nothing wrong in that, it might be quite fitting really, as in the series of Twin Peaks’ an actress is credited as “The Log Lady,” because she carries about with her a log, to which she also speaks}. It is improbable, but not impossible, that the chemist and the “umbrella man” are the one and the same character, because the one is of a confident nature, while the other is of a nervous disposition, as he is afraid of anyone who “enquires!”
   To the best of my knowledge the majority of actors and actresses who have played more then their part in ‘the Prisoner’ have been listed within this article. There are of course other numerous actors and actress who have made their exits and entrances on but one occasion, and they are no lesser for that, as everyone plays their part. Otherwise they are to be found amongst the film extras, some of whom also appear throughout ‘the Prisoner,’ no doubt playing the same Village citizens appearing in various scenes throughout the series, whether via live film, or in stock film footage.

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