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Sunday 30 June 2019

Village Day - A Personal View

    After the difficulties of pre-production, I was more than happy to finally get to film on location at Portmeirion, no matter how daunting the prospect was. However before then the assistant director was promoted to director, who then had a sudden brainstorm! He told me that we could complete the filming at Portmeirion in a day and a half. I said a day and a half?! We would be taking advantage of people in village costume and therefore filming during a Prisoner convention! He didn’t know what he was talking about! Besides he told me the pair of cameras he was supplying, he would have to take back with him on the Sunday afternoon when he was due to leave, leaving me high and dry! It was over another matter that he offered his resignation, which I believe he was under the impression that I would not accept. He was wrong! I didn’t think twice about accepting his resignation, and as Executive Producer I made myself director, because I didn’t want to be messed about anymore! As it happened filming at Portmeirion began at 7 am on the Saturday morning of the Prisoner convention, and we only just completed at 5pm on the following Friday.
    So on a very personal level, there I was the writer, Executive Producer, and director, and it all lay on my shoulders to see the job done! I could not help it, and you reading this my call me arrogant to say it, but I truly felt that I was walking in Pat McGoohan’s footsteps. Many day visitors to Portmeirion thought that was who I was, McGoohan as he was at the time of the Prisoner. That gave me a buzz, and it did allow me strong control over the crowds of day visitors who were only too pleased to stand watching the filming.
A few asked if they could appear in a scene, which I was pleased to allow. One woman wanted to pay £20 just to stand next to the “big man” as she put it, meaning Patrick McGoohan…….meaning me! And someone heard in the Prisoner shop saying that they had seen McGoohan’s son filming down on the Piazza.
    Eventually we had to film on location in London, the chief location was Buckingham Place. Bill Lonnen had brought his Caterham 7 up from Bournemouth especially for the film. Not an exact replica for the Lotus 7 used in ‘the Prisoner,’ all I could do was to accept it. Bill had already crashed his 7 magnificently for the film, but now I was to get behind the wheel. Dressed as the Prisoner I climbed in the car behind the wheel, fired up the engine, engaged first gear, and drove off turning left into Palace Street, left again, left once more, and at speed along Buckingham Place just as the Prisoner does during the opening sequence. That was another personal achievement for me. I could allow myself to enjoy such personal goals simply because I was the man in charge, and had to be able to enjoy myself when the going was good.
    I have watched several Prisoner based films produced by enthusiasts, and although ‘Village Day’ has its production faults, it does stand out for one particular reason. I was determined that my film would have an interior set of the Green Dome, and ‘Village Day’ is the first film to achieve that since the production of ‘the Prisoner.’ But the Green Dome is another story, one reserved for the summer edition. Although ‘Village Day’ delivered me some very personal achievements and pleasure as I performed the role of the Prisoner-No.6, the film also brought a good number of people together, people who also gained pleasure from being involved with the film. Once the film was produced and had received it premier I was asked when I was going to produce another? I replied in the words of Mr. X, “One of those is quite enough!” And it was at the reception at the premier event in 1999 I got rather drunk. I think it was the relief, the relief that it was all over, done and dusted you could say!

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