September 29, 1967 – February 1, 1968
(17) one hour episodes (1 season)
in color on ITV (the 1st network in the U.K.)
Created by: Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein
Written and Produced by: Patrick McGoohan
- Patrick McGoohan … Number Six
- George Markstein … Man Behind Desk in the Opening
- Angelo Muscat … The Butler
- Peter Swanwick … Supervisor
“The Prisoner Theme”
Composed by: Albert Elms
(This is the first conversation between McGoohan and Number Two)
The Prisoner: “Where am I?”
Number Two: “In the Village.”
The Prisoner: “What do you want?”
Number Two: “Information.”
The Prisoner: “Whose side are you on?”
Number Two: “That would be telling. We want information. Information! Information!!!”
The Prisoner: “You won’t get it!”
Number Two : “By hook or by crook, we will!”
The Prisoner: “Who are you?”
Number Two: “The new number two.”
The Prisoner: “Who is number one?”
Number Two: “You are number six.”
The Prisoner: “I am not a Number! I am a free man!”
Number Two: (Laughs sarcastically)
This show for only being 17 episodes has developed a life of its own. Widely analyzed to the point that every character, every line of dialogue, every word uttered took on a hidden and deeper meaning. I even read one blog about the font used in the opening credits. Analysis of the show has been the subject of college level courses and doctoral dissertations.
Most believe that in fact McGoohan was trying to make some social statements with the show. It’s Orwellian overtones certainly were a metaphor for the paranoia of the Cold War and the whole “you are number six” thing pitted individuality against the collective. For the rest of it McGoohan has publicly stated that there just aren’t any hidden meanings beyond the obvious but “as soon as you get it figured out, let me know.”
The action followed a retiring spy (McGoohan) who is kidnapped and taken to what resembles a resort town called The Village, which is actually a prison. All the residents of this village act as if they belong there except they are all referred to as numbers. Our hero is only called Number Six no matter how many times he protests and demands to be called by his name.
The bad guys of the show, Number One (who is never seen) and Number Two (who changes actors every episode)constantly are interrogating Number Six to find out why he retired. They use advance techniques to try and break him including hallucinogenic drugs, mind control, dream manipulation, social pressure from the other residents and unrelenting badgering.
The individual episodes revolve around McGoohan resisting the interrogations, trying to escape and helping other detainees in The Village. He has occasional help from The Butler (Angelo Muscat) but he is also circumspect of this assistance.
There are varying opinions on the shows cancellation, some say it was McGoohan’s doing others claim that lack of new sponsors that doomed the show forcing McGoohan to write the final episode over a weekend.
Video Clip of The Prisoner
Patrick McGoohan died in 2009 after a brief illness, he was 80 years old
George Markstein died in 1987 of kidney failure, he was 58
Angelo Muscat died in 1977, he was only 47