What’s it all about?…..The Prisoner….an explanation……as such!

One of the most enduring qualities about The Prisoner is it’s enigmatic production values…..many people still don’t understand what it was all about, who was number one? Where was the village? Why was the ending ‘so weird’?

The Prisoner Postcard

The Prisoner Postcard- 1998

Well now I’m going to try and explain the Prisoner from my point of view….and that’s all it is My Point of View!

To start with its important to note that The Prisoner directly followed on from Patrick McGoohan’s previous role as John Drake….aka secret agent DANGER MAN. So it’s reasonable to assume that the ‘resigned’ No. 6 is in fact John Drake. The village is the place where ‘they’ put dissident secret agents. The Prisoner was produced in 1966 at the height of the cold war. Patrick McGoohan originally conceived of The Prisoner as a seven episode mini-series. During production Lew Grade contacted McGoohan and  asked him if he could do 26 episodes as ‘a package’ to sell to American TV networks. Eventually only 17 episodes were made.

Patrick McGoohan said: “Initially, I proposed only seven episodes, not as a series but as a serial…..I only wanted to do seven……Out of all the scripts there are seven that I would pick and put in line and I’d just keep those and throw the rest away”

 Patrick McGoohan’s seven in order:

  • 1: ARRIVAL
  • 2: FREE FOR ALL
  • 3: DANCE OF THE DEAD
  • 4: CHECKMATE
  • 5: THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN
  • 6: ONCE UPON A TIME
  • 7: FALL OUT or conclusion!   

 Original screening order:

  • 1: ARRIVAL
  • 2: THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN
  • 3: A B & C
  • 4: FREE FOR ALL
  • 5: THE SCHIZOID MAN
  • 6: THE GENERAL
  • 7: MANY HAPPY RETURNS
  • 8: DANCE OF THE DEAD
  • 9: CHECKMATE
  • 10: HAMMER INTO ANVIL
  • 11: IT’S YOUR FUNERAL
  • 12: A CHANGE OF MIND
  • 13: DO NOT FORSAKE ME OH MY DARLING
  • 14: LIVING IN HARMONY
  • 15: THE GIRL WHO WAS DEATH
  • 16: ONCE UPON A TIME
  • 17: FALL OUT

I’ve highlighted the original seven in bold!

So as you can see the ‘original’ seven where shown out of context and in the wrong order with additional episodes shown in-between so the logical order of things became confused….if you have the series on DVD try watching them in the order suggested by Patrick McGoohan. It’s also worth noting that the final episode FALL OUT was not the original conclusion so should really be disregarded in the seven! Tell me if it makes any more sense.

The Prisoner Postcard

The Prisoner Postcard- 1998

Also the idea that most of The Prisoner was filmed in Portmeirion is not correct. In fact most of it was filmed in and around Borehamwood studio, London and only about a quarter of the series consists of actual Portmeirion scenes.

Who is Number One and what’s the significance of The Penny-farthing…..this is what Patrick McGoohan said: “I came up with the pennyfarthing bicycle because I thought it was an ironic symbol of progress. The feeling that we are going too fast……..I think we should pull back and consolidate the things we have discovered, as opposed to tearing off at faster speeds in bigger aircraft……I don’t see any merit in it at all. I think progress is the biggest enemy on earth- apart from oneself” perhaps then the number one is oneself? That would explain the final episode FALL OUT and the continual chant of IIIIIIIIII……

The Prisoner Postcard

The Prisoner Postcard- 1998

 Hope this make sense…..let me know if you have any other ideas…….

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This entry was published on March 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm. It’s filed under arts, culture, sci-fi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “What’s it all about?…..The Prisoner….an explanation……as such!

  1. I hate to be the one to prick the bubble, but McGoohan explicitly said the oft-claimed *seven* were never named by him, and indeed,denied the ones listed were his choice.

    “We were talking about the seven episodes which form the true basis of The Prisoner. Well, they picked their seven, but they’re not my seven. They claim they’re mine, but they’re not. Everything they claimed that I said, apart from two things, is inaccurate” – Patrick McGoohan quoted in a magazine interview – 1991

  2. Interesting thing about the Prisoner….it will never stop being ‘debatable’ 😉

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Philip Battle's Blog

  4. John Drake on said:

    Umbrellas, Black and White Checker Boards, Black Top Hats, OK Hand Signals (666), Keep Your Mouth Shut (Omuerto), There is no Escape from “Them” (Stockholm Syndrome), National Identities do not Matter, Numbers (Slaves) not Humans, Breaking Down Personal Identity (Freeze/Thaw/Freeze), Hospitals Bumping Off Patients, Rigged Elections, Media Diversions, Intelligence Operates the Facades…Does anyone else see the threads in The Prisoner?

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