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Monday 5 October 2020

Watching The Prisoner - Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling


    Time to watch another episode of the Prisoner, as though in real time. The original script called ‘Face Unknown’ has ZM73 waking up on the morning he was supposed to hand in his letter of resignation. He wrote the letter the night before. But ZM73 thinks there is something different, out there, but there’s nothing different, nothing has changed, outside it’s just the same as it has always been. The London street, his Lotus parked outside. As he pockets the letter he heads for the door, and leaving the house rushed to his parked Lotus, climbs in, starts the engine, revs the engine. Of course its different, of course things are different. Because I am resigning…!”
This episode is easy to date to October 5th 1967 for the simple reason that ZM73 disappeared a year ago, having been abducted to the village. The last time Janet Portland saw her fiancé was at the final fitting of her dress, yellow silk, she hasn’t seen him since!
It is lucky for the village administration, and perhaps for Sir Charles, that No.6 was in the village seeing as he was the last to have contact with Doctor Saltzman, otherwise they would be in the impossible position, as they wouldn’t know where Saltzman was!

    One might imagine if No.6 wasn’t in the village, those “masters” who wanted to know where Saltzman {I use Salzman because that’s the original spelling in the script} is, they would have had ZM73 either seconded to the village, or abducted there in order to carry out their plan behind ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.’
It was about a year ago when ZM73 wrote to Saltzman in Scotland, and in keeping that location to himself, not divesting it to anyone, was ZM73 protecting Doctor Seltzman from even his own people? Was Seltzman part of the reason why ZM73 resigned? Perhaps it’s simply coincidence.

When the Colonel/ZM73 had selected the correct numbered slides according the name SALTZMEN 19-1-12-20-26-13-5-14 {that’s why they had to change the spelling of the name they couldn’t have two ‘a’s’ in Saltzman} he placed them all together in the projector. Then he takes a pair of spectacles from the breast pocket of his blazer adding two different coloured lenses. They are in fact sunglass shades used by people who have to wear spectacles. But that’s not important, what is important is, why is No.6 wearing spectacles when he’s never worn spectacles before! Yes they are the Colonel’s spectacles, but the prescription for the lenses wouldn’t be the right for No.6. Especially as he doesn’t wear spectacles for either distance or reading! As an added note, judging by the pink tinge to the Colonel’s spectacle frames, they look like National Health spectacles. And yet, seeing as ZM73’s handwriting is still the same, would he really need spectacles?

I mentioned imponderables before in a previous write-up for “Watching The Prisoner,” well this episode outstrips any other episode on those grounds, and indeed ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ is notorious for having so many unanswered questions.

Did Sir Charles Portland know of the village’s existence, was he one of those so called “masters?”

Was it Sir Charles who took the decision to have his future son-in-law taken to the village? If so it’s no wonder he didn’t tell his daughter where her fiancé was!

How did those behind the village acquire the Saltzman machine?

Why was it so important that Professor Saltzman had perfected the reversal process, when all that had to be done was put the same two subjects through the exact same process!

Was it really wise to have left that receipt for the roll of film with Janet Portland? That made it easy for her father Sir Charles to get his hands on it!

Where is Saltzman, and who wanted to know? We started off with Sir Charles and some of his colleagues looking at slides in his office. It is clear they want to know where Professor Saltzman is. Also there is a Saltzman machine in a laboratory in the village. So are we dealing with two separate entities, or just the one? If the British are behind the village then it’s British Intelligence, if not then there are two sides in the race to get their hands on Professor Saltzman!

In having acquired the Professor’s location ZM73 went on his merry way to Kandersfeld in Austria, followed by Potter, followed by an undertaker, an agent working for the village disguised as a chauffeur. Or as my wife likes to think, a tour coach driver! In the basement of the barber’s shop the Colonel/ZM73 is discovered by Potter. A fight ensues, however they are both subdued by the tour coach driver {undertaker}. The said undertaker eventually takes both Saltzman and the Colonel/ZM73 back to the village, would that be in a coach, or two coffins in the back of his hearse? If that wouldn’t have been difficult enough for one man alone, what of Potter? Was he left in the basement still unconscious from the affects of the nerve gas, was he also to one day wake up in the village having been taken back there along with the Professor and the Colonel/ZM73? What a task that would have been for the undertaker all on his own!

If Potter had been left behind still unconscious in the basement of the barber's shop, he’d certainly have some explaining to do to Sir Charles at having lost Professor Saltzman to the other side. But then if Sir Charles is behind the village………well its all very complicated, and as the original scriptwriter for of ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ Vincent Tilsley once said “they turned a bad script into an incomprehensible one.” That’s because messers McGoohan and Tomblin messed it about, making amendments to the script. If only they had left it alone!
    One final question, in the final mind transference when Professor Saltzman managed to change the minds of three people at the same time, how did the Colonel know when to pull the four jack plugs out of the EKG Simulator box?
The one thing we can be sure of regarding ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ we can be sure of nothing. Although this episode is unique in its quality of music, that music for me is the best in ‘the Prisoner’ series of any of the episodes.

Also this episode sees a change in the Prisoner, or perhaps a beginning if you prefer, in that ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ is the first episode of a second series which takes place more out of the village and more in the outside world a category ‘Many Happy Returns’ dovetails with very nicely.

Next time our friend No.6 tries living in Harmony, and finds both the judge and the town, not to his suiting.

Be seeing you


  1. Hi. Just read your interesting post on watching this great episode - as I'm currently rewatching them all myself. Bit stunned by your factual errors though, especially from someone who claims to be "an authority". Whatever the spelling of the name in the script, it's SELTZMAN in the episode, not SALTZMEN (sic) as you claim. Helpfully Nigel even writes it out in big red capital letters for us... It also doesn't matter how many 'A's are in Seltzman because the sequence of only four slides is determined by the alphabet number of the second, fourth, sixth and eighth letters in his surname: 5-20-13-14. So even if the name had two "a"s it would made zero difference as only one is used. And as for the film receipt, I doubt the agents used it or knew of its existence to pick up the slides, they just took what they wanted and the "mix up" was a convenient ruse. I don't mean to seem rude... BCNU. Hugh.

  2. Hello Hugh,
    I shall forgive your rudeness, and I do not claim to be “an authority” or Prisonerologist, they were bestowed upon my some years ago by fellow enthusiasts of the Prisoner. So I use it and make no apologies for doing so. As for the use of Saltzman, that’s the name which appears in the original script for ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ of which I have a copy and which was slightly amended for the actual episode. As for Nigel Stock spelling it out for us, I agree it wouldn’t have made any difference had they kept the spelling of SALTZMAN {as in the original script} because they could have used the first ‘A’ instead of changing the letter to ‘E’, and the second ‘A’ isn’t used. So why bother to change that one letter of the alphabet for another? After all the television viewer wouldn’t have been any the wiser.
    As for the use of the receipt for the transparencies, it is my personal way of looking at it. It might not suit you or anyone else for that matter, I might well be wrong, so I do not expect anyone to agree with me. The late Patrick McGoohan once said one thousand people might all have different ideas about the Prisoner, and they would all be right.
    The thing about DNFMOMD is, that the plot is full of holes. Personally I don’t see the reason for a reversal process regarding the Seltzman machine, simply put the same two subjects through the original process! I watch the first mind changing operation between No.6 and the Colonel, and then the second towards the end of the episode when Seltzman reverses that process. I don’t see anything different between them except for Seltzman’s intervention in changing the minds of three people at the same time! You may not agree with me, that is your prerogative.

    Be seeing you

  3. David,

    Thanks for your reply. Has anybody every mentioned that you are the spitting image of the actor Jeremy Wilkin? I was watching some episodes of UFO the other night and the similarity to your profile pic was striking!

    I hate to quarrel with someone I've never met, but you do claim to be a "Prisonerologist of the 1960's television series 'the Prisoner', a leading authority on the subject" - it says so at the top of every page on this blog, right under your name! As such, is it not important to get at least the basics right?

    Why should I trust your "expertise" on anything else you write and claim to be fact, when even a newbie like me can see it's just not right? I say this only because I'm disappointed. I was enjoying your blog. I've looked back through several posts and, now I'm looking, I find small errors all over the place. All because you got a silly thing like the code from DNFMOMD wrong... which is a real shame. I just started to get into the series via Britbox and thought your blog was a great guide, but now I'm not so sure.

    You are a prolific blogger on The Prisoner, but quantity and quality are not the same thing.

    I wish you well in your future endeavours.