I AM NOT A NUMBER, I AM A FREE MAN! .... you are number 6.....
THE PRISONER was a television series that ran in Britain from 1967 to 1968. Most of the series was created, written and directed by Irish actor Patrick McGoohan. This was one of the first television shows to become a cult classic. Some people hated it because they couldn't understand it and a lot more people loved it for that exact reason.
Cable channel AMC produced a miniseries/remake, filmed in Namibia, Africa, which starred Jim Caviezel and Sir Ian McKellan. The show was broadcast in 2009, and can now be watched on DVD. it makes quite a few changes from the original, but keeps a lot of the relevant paranoia and updates it for the modern age.
This lens will let you explore the history of the Prisoner and details some of the more popular facts and trivia.
How I Found THE PRISONER
It was 1991 and the tv show TWIN PEAKS had just ended. I was working swing shift, doing light-industrial assembly at my second post-college job. I was on the line one night, lamenting to one of my co-workers how frustrating I'd found the end of the Twin Peaks series.
"Oh man," my friend Dan said, "you've never watched THE PRISONER...." He told me it was a show from the UK and that the San Jose PBS station KTEH was about to run the entire series again. He said I'd really "get off" on the weirdness and the psychological angles. The man knew how to recommend something so that it sounded very appealing to me.
I went home that night and looked at the TV schedule. Due to my swing shift employment, this was going to have to be a VCR-assisted effort. And for the next few months, I'd set a tape every Tuesday before going to work, and then race home that night to watch the next episode. I felt hooked just after watching "Arrival" the very first episode. I had terrible trouble sleeping on a swing shift schedule, and this show sure wasn't helping, but I didn't care. Not one bit.
Each Wednesday Dan and I would try to get some time on the same production line next to each other so we could talk about the show, or he'd find me during breaks. I could tell he was enjoying watching me get pulled into the show. I have to admit, still to this day, it was one of the best TV recommendations I've ever been given.
Finally, one Tuesday he said to me "It's the last episode tonight, huh?" "Yeah..." I answered. He just smiled back at me.
He found me shortly after we came on shift that following day. "Well," he asked, "how did you like THAT ending?" I admitted that I'd loved it, as much as it had confused me. And I felt a lot better about how Twin Peaks had ended too. And I was about to run the entire thing over again now that I had it all down on tape.
Guides to THE PRISONER
Here are some books that gather production info and explore the creation and fandom of the series. This is one of those tv shows where it can really be of benefit to have a guidebook or two to help puzzle things out.
This is the book that I have in my collection. It's an episode guide with some other reference and production notes.
Explore the World of THE PRISONER
- Six of One - The Prisoner - Patrick McGoohan - Home Page
THE PRISONER OFFICIAL APPRECIATION SOCIETY - SIX OF ONE "The Prisoner" cult 1967 TV series has its own worldwide unique following. You too can join the only official appreciation society, established since 1976. Patrick McGoohan is the Honorary Presi
- RetroWeb Classic Television: The Prisoner
An in-depth web page on the classic British television series The Prisoner
- BBC - Cult - Classic TV - The Prisoner
The Prisoner - Patrick McGoohan's hit Sixties cult series. With Classic clips from the BBC's archives - part of the BBC Cult Website
- THE PRISONER FAQ Volume 1
This is Volume I of the FAQ for _The Prisoner_. I have tried to make it accurate and spoiler-free, but I can guarantee neither. Still, it is probably safe to read this document even if you have never seen the show.
- The Prisoner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Prisoner was a controversial 1967 UK fantasy-drama television series, starring Patrick McGoohan.
- Portmeirion - The Prisoner
Patrick McGoohan not only starred as Number Six, the leading role in the The Prisoner, he was also the creator and driving force behind the 17 episode series.
- The Unmutual - Prisoner / McGoohan / Portmeirion Home Page
Unmutual Website - dedicated to the TV series The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, and Portmeirion. News, reviews, links, events and more!
- Prisoner, The
The Prisoner, an existential British spy/science fiction series, was first aired in England in 1967. Actor Patrick McGoohan conceived of the idea for the series, wrote some of the scripts, and starred in the central role.
- The Prisoner: Joe Brae's Ultimate Village Experience.
Joe Brae's Ultimate Internet Resource For The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan's brilliant 1960s television series. Read Prisoner interpretations, and add your own! Many images, and links. Be Seeing You!
- Liverpool Group Prisoner fanzine TPF
Hello there and Well Come, you have found TPF on the web - dedicated to Patrick McGoohan's 1960s TV series "The Prisoner".
- The Prisoner
The Prisoner Produced by Everyman Films for ITV Productions Filmed in the UK in 1966, 1967
- The SF Site Featured Review: The Prisoner -- The Official Companion to the Classic TV Series
The Prisoner was a 17-episode British television series that first aired at the peak of the 60s counterculture, reflecting that era's artistic experimentation, as well as some of its silliness, in warping various genre conventions into a complex and
- Unmutual Prisoner Car Guide
Some of the most enduring images from The Prisoner TV series are those provided by the use of various vehicles involved. The Lotus 7 crossing Westminster Bridge, a Mini-Moke driving along the sands of Portmeirion, a Jaguar E-Type and Lotus Elan racin
- Ball Chair by Aarnio Eero - the original
The original Ball Chair of Eero Aarnio's fibreglass collection, better known to PRISONER fans as the round chair sat in by Number 2 in the control center of the Village.
The Premise of THE PRISONER
The opening credit sequence at the start of each episode sets up the basic premise of THE PRISONER. We see a man, resigning from his job, which appears to be for the government. He goes home to his house, he's obviously packing to leave. We see gas coming into the house from under the door and he collapses, unconscious. When he awakes he is in the Village where he is informed he is number 6.
And really, that's it for the background. For the entirety of the 17 episodes, we never learn this man's name. We never learn just what his work was about, or what it is that he knows that made his superiors send him here instead of letting him resign. In fact, for the entire run of the show, Number 6 tries to learn who contols the Village and how to escape, while those who do run the Village try to learn what it is that Number 6 really knows.
The closest we get to seeing who is "in charge" is a succession of people in the role of Number 2. Each one winds up engaging in a psychological battle of wills with Number 6. As the episodes progress, the methods used on Nubmer 6 escalate and border on torture, but he always prevails.
As far as Number 6's physical attempts to escape go, he's always thwarted a large white ball controlled by the warders that can travel over land or water. The residents of the Village refer to this device as "Rover." Although Rover kills a few others who attempt to escape, Number 6 is too important and he's always brought back unharmed.
Be Seeing You! - that phrase was the customary Village farewell saying
One of the most debated points of the series is the episode order. Everyone agrees that "Arrival" is the first episode, and that "Once Upon A Time" and "Fall Out" are the 16th and 17th ones. However, the original ITV viewing order and subsequent television showing have differed.
Patrick McGoohan originally envisioned the series as just a set of seven episodes and these are considered the most important by fans. They are (in his order) Arrival, Free For All, Dance of the Dead, Checkmate, Chimes of Big Ben, Once Upon A Time, and Fall Out.
You can find lists of suggested episode order on many of the fan sites listed under "Explore the World of THE PRISONER."
THE SIMPSONS Parody THE PRISONER
The TV show THE SIMPSONS has parodied THE PRISONER not once but twice.
In the episode, The Joy of Sect, Homer and the family join a religious group called the Movementarians. Only Marge is suspicious, and when she escapes the compound, she is chased by a large white ball that comes up out of the river, much as Rover in the Village came up out of the ocean.
In the episode The Computer Wore Menace Shoes Homer sets up a web page and runs stories of town gossip that he's made up. When his revelation that flu shots encourage holiday spending turn out to be true, he's gassed and brought to "the island" which is a replica of the Village. He manages to escape by popping Rover, but once at home, the dog gasses the whole family and they all get sent to the island. Marge's comment is "Once you get used to the constant druggings, this place isn't so bad." The video clips below are from that episode, and feature guest star Patrick McGoohan providing the voice for none other than Number 6.
The Prisoner DVD Megaset - explore the entire series
With the megaset, you can watch in whichever episode order is your preferred favorite! Having the entire series on DVD really allows for a complete exploration of the show.
The New Number Two
One of the main questions that Number Six has about the Village is "who is Number One?" He doesn't get an answer to his question until the final episode.
The person he most puts this question to most often, and who is in charge of the Village, is Number Two. This character changed from week to week, providing a new foil for Number Six regularly. Each Number Two had their own way of trying to crack Number Six. Some play to his hopes and then dash them. Some play psychological cat and mouse. In the end, Number Six manages to endure or outwit them all.
The various actors who portrayed Number 2 are listed below along with the episode titles. (in original US broadcast order)
1. Guy Doleman - Arrival
2. Leo McKern - The Chimes of Big Ben
3. Colin Gordon - A. B. and C.
4. Eric Portman - Free For All
5. Anton Rodgers - Schizoid Man
6. Colin Gordon - The General
7. Georgina Cookson - Many Happy Returns
8. Mary Morris - Dance of the Dead
9. Clifford Evans - Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling
10. Derren Nesbitt and Andre Van Gysegham - It's Your Funeral
11. Peter Wyngarde - Checkmate
12. David Bauer - Living In Harmony
13. John Sharpe - A Change of Mind
14. Patrick Cargill - Hammer Into Anvil
15. Kenneth Griffith - The Girl Who Was Death
16. Leo McKern - Once Upon A Time
17. Leo McKern - Fall Out
SHATTERED VISAGE - The Prisoner "Sequel" - a graphic novel continuation of the tv series
DC Comics put forth a curious trio of issues that had a female government agent stranded in the Village, obviously many years after it's abandonment. What happened to #2 and #6? What was the purpose of the Village? Did this woman just get lost and find the Village by concidence, or was she sent there on purpose as she was about to retire from a sensitive government job?
I found this story and exploration very interesting, although I will say, it raised as many questions as it answered. It fleshes out some of the threads left dangling at the end of the last episode of the tv show, but still remains as elusive and mysterious.
This is the bound edition of all the comics.
Life In The Village
The day to day routine in the Village had some specifics and peculiarities to it. All telephone and taxi service was "local" only. Residents were encouraged to be social, with strong individual tendencies frowned upon. Those living in the Village had a variety of activities and amusements with which to pass the time.
- Art Show - In "The Chimes of Big Ben" the Village is having an art show with many residents participating. Interestingly, every single one of them except Number Six makes some piece of art that has Number Two (Leo McKern) as the subject matter.
- Chess - There are a lot of residents who like to play chess in the Village. In addition to the coventional board game version, the Villagers also play chess on a field in the town square where humans take on the various roles of the chess pieces. The episode "Checkmate" not only takes its name from the game of chess, but the human-sized version features prominently.
- Kosho - this is a very bizarre game/sport/martial art unique to the Village. Two opponents are on trampolines on either side of a tank of water in a narrow space and they attempt to knock each other into the water. It is seen in the episodes "It's Your Funeral" and "Hammer Into Anvil."
- Masquerade Ball - In the episode "Dance of the Dead" the Village has a masquerade ball, which they call a "carnival." Number Six wear a simple tuxedo, and winds up looking exactly like the lead character from Patrick McGoohan's previous tv show, SECRET AGENT. Number Two, who is a woman in this episode, dresses like Peter Pan. The show script notes say that if a man had been cast as Number Two for this show, his costume was to have been Jack The Ripper.
The Ball Chair of #2
This is the type of chair that #2 has in the Village control room at his desk.
THE PRISONER Videos
Interviews with series writer/director/actor Patrick McGoohan, clips from the show and film taken in Portmeirion, Wales. See the Village in Second Life!
Experience The Village
Want to experience the Village? Take a real or virtual journey as you wish.
- Arvin W. Casas' "Village" - WARNING!
Arvin W. Casas's Village - a sound and graphics rich site set in 'the Village' from the 60's classic television show 'The Prisoner'
- Quicktime VR of The Village
To coincide with the celebration of Number Six's birthday, here is a set of Quicktime VR panoramas of the Village. They were photographed on a warm, sunny day in October 1995, in and about the Village. They are "free for all" to download and examine.
- Prisoner Convention Portmeirion Six of One McGoohan Home Page
The Prisoner Portmeirion Village Official Convention, based on the cult 1967 television show, starring Patrick McGoohan, hosted by Six of One, be seeing you!
- Build the Village
Instructions and pictures on how to build your very own replica of the Village from THE PRISONER tv show with vehicles and details, made entirely from LEGO! (lensmasters note: this is brilliant, bloody brilliant!)
- Portmeirion - Welcome to the official Portmeirion Village website
Welcome to the official Portmeirion village website. This site is available in Welsh and English.
THE PRISONER Miniseries
After a lot of on-again/off-again reports, the remake of the Prisoner is underway. It will take the form of a miniseries and is currently in production in Namibia. (you know, that country where Angelina Jolie hid to have her first baby with Brad Pitt)
Number Two will be played by Sir Ian McKellan.
Number Six will be played by Jim Caviezel
Be seeing you!
The 2009 mini-series of the The Prisoner will feature six one-hour episodes, all written by Bill Gallagher
- AMC - Blogs - The Prisoner - Ian McKellen's Blog
Ian McKellen's Blog from AMC's The Prisoner Blog
- The Prisoner's Sonic Shadow Looms Large | Listening Post from Wired.com
Four decades after its short run concluded in controversy, Patrick McGoohan's brilliant sci-fi miniseries The Prisoner remains one of television's most influential shows. But its speculative tentacles reach deeper, inspiring
- Ian McKellen Invites You To The Village In New Prisoner Promo
AMC has released the first promo for its upcoming remake of Patrick MacGoohan's The Prisoner. The promo showcases the show's Namibian exteriors, the many dapper costumes of Ian MacKellen, and three legendary words.
So, do you love THE PRISONER? Hate it? Just confused as all heck?