Monday, 4 July 2016

I am not a number I am a free man : looking back at The prisoner.


It was one of the most iconic TV series of it's time, one that helped to put a picturesque Welsh village on the tourist map and one which has certainly stood the test of time. The prisoner is still one of the most unusual, unique and occasionally mind bending TV series you'll ever find, often imitated and rarely outdone..

The creative vision of Patrick McGoohan The prisoner sees No.6 isolated in the mysterious village where he is held captive whilst his captors try endlessly to break him down and find out why he resigned from his job as a secret agent. The exact origins for the series idea have endlessly been disputed, is No.6 Patrick's iconic character from Danger man, was there a mysterious co-creator behind the scenes, was the series signed up despite the production company not actually understanding it, either way in spite of it's illusive origins it's certainly one of the most inventive and unique series of it's time.

The setting for the shows village, the picturesque welsh village of Portmerion gave the show it's unique look, it's colourful Mediterranean inspired architecture set off with the shows addition of surveillance cameras, tannoy's and village street signs finished the look. It's visual look is certainly striking and adds further depth to the show, of course the main triumph of the show was it's ever changing story lines, no episode was the same with the exception of the continuous efforts of No. 6 to escape the village and bring down his captors, each of the story-lines were intrinsically different from the remarkably epic Girl who was death episode which sees No.6 escape multiple efforts to kill him in a rather outlandish fashion, to the human chess board set Checkmate which sees No.6 joining in as the queen's pawn.


One of the ever changing main features of the show which gave it more of it's unique feel, was the ever changing cast line up playing the elusive No.2 who constantly taunts and monitors No.6's whereabouts in an attempt to bring him down and find out exactly why he resigned, each story features a different actor with the exception of the pinnacle episode Fallout where Leo McKern makes a return to play the character, his portrayal of No.2 is certainly the most memorable.

Many aspects of the show have been borrowed in pop culture, from the menacing balloons that followed escapee's around the village to No.2's iconic egg shaped chair, it's mark on culture is still on going today and it's no surprise. In it's run it never quite drawed a logical conclusion to the series, with the final episode leaving many questions still hanging, was No.6 a prisoner all along even in his escape at the end, was the series a remark on society and democracy, either way it's a series that kept us thinking and provided some of the most unique television of it's time.

Even today The prisoner is still as iconic as ever, it's helped to put Portmerion on the map as a must visit tourist spot and helped to shape TV series in it's wake. An attempt at a reboot of the series was even made several years ago but we won't talk about that, why remake a classic when it's still drawing in new viewers today? It's certainly a series that you can re-watch over and over and still find references that you missed previously, we'll be digging our prisoner box set out for years to come.. be seeing you!

Images: Six of One


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