The Prisoner : Synopsis, Pictures, Photos, Trivia, Filming Locations

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The Prisoner

The Prisoner Dates : 1967 - 1968
17 episodes of 52 min
First broadcasting : 18 février 1968
Creator(s) : Patrick McGoohan
Producer(s) : David Tomblin
Music : Ron Grainer - Albert Elms - Wilfred Joseph
Web surfers's rate : 9.1/10 for 17 rates - Rate

French Traduire


A high-ranking but un-named Agent in the British Government resigns from his job/post and leaves for a holiday. While packing he is gassed and is taken to a beautiful but deadly prison known only as "The Village" where people are taken, given a Number to be called by and kept there for the rest of their lives if they don't tell No. 2 (the deputy head of "The Village") the information they are captured for. Escape is nearly impossible as "The Village" has amazing but deadly weapons to use if anybody tries to escape. The Agent is given the title of "No. 6" but he adopts the name of "The Prisoner". The series tells of his attempts to resist the plots of each No. 2 (who is replaced with another if an attempt on No. 6 fails) to get his information and against any attempt to disrupt the nearly peaceful running of the "The Village". The Village is determined to crack The Prisoner by attempting to get the answer to why he resigned from his job/post. As time goes on, two questions plague The Prisoner's mind - How can he escape and who is the real leader of the Village - the mysterious No. 1?.

The Actors

Patrick McGoohan - N°6

Patrick McGoohan



Photos The Prisoner n_0 Photos The Prisoner n_1 Photos The Prisoner n_2 Photos The Prisoner n_3 Photos The Prisoner n_4


The Prisoner was filmed in the North Wales resort village of Portmeirion over the course of a year. Patrick McGoohan was inspired to film his series there after filming a couple of "Danger Man" (1960) episodes in the village.

The commonly heard phrase "Be seeing you" was also one of Patrick McGoohan's catchphrases in "Danger Man" (1960).

Leo McKern and Colin Gordon are the only actors to play Number Two more than once: McKern in "The Chimes of Big Ben", "Once Upon a Time" and "Fall Out", Gordon in "A. B. and C." and "The General".

Leo McKern, Colin Gordon, Mary Morris and Peter Wyngarde are the only Number Twos to have their voices on the introduction piece featuring the questioning of Number Six. The other "standard" voice(s) of Number Two was supplied by Robert Rietty.

Georgina Cookson is the only Number Two to wear a black badge, with a white penny farthing, at the end of "Many Happy Returns".

Many of the guest stars had previously appeared on "Danger Man" (1960) and/or "Danger Man" (1964).

The black and white head shot of Patrick McGoohan, which showed him smiling slightly and wearing a black tie and a grey suit, that was seen in the opening credits and in such episodes as "Free for All" and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling", is a promotional photograph from McGoohan's earlier series, "Danger Man" (1964).

Patrick McGoohan would have liked to limit the programme to seven episodes, but there was no chance that ITC executive Sir Lew (later Lord) Grade would back such a short run, so he reluctantly agreed to make two "series" of thirteen each. The first was to end with "Degree Absolute" (later re-titled "Once Upon A Time", when it was decided to make it the first half of a two-part finale). When the point in time came when the entire run was supposed to be in the can and only the first thirteen episodes actually were, Grade pulled the plug (or, according to some, McGoohan told him that the premise wouldn't yield another thirteen stories). Eventually, Grade was convinced to allow four more episodes to be made, including a finale, but with the proviso that production continue uninterrupted. Many of the crew were committed to other projects (script editor George Markstein's departure is attributed to a falling out with McGoohan, but as he left at the exact same time as all the others, this is debatable), including McGoohan himself, who co-starred in the Hollywood movie, Ice Station Zebra (1968). For filming to be able to continue in his absence, "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling", with The Prisoner's mind transferred to another man's body, was concocted, and replacements for departed crew members were found. After the star returned from America, shot his ending speech and a few insert shots for "Darling," and the episodes "Living In Harmony" and "The Girl Who Was Death," he then confessed to Grade that he had no ideas for the finish (he knew only that he wanted no conventional "James Bond" type finale, such as one suggestion, allegedly from Markstein before he quit, that Number One turn out to be The Butler). Grade replied that the actor was obligated to come up with something. McGoohan locked himself away for most of the next week and wrote, "Fall Out" while the two episodes from the abandoned final season of "Danger Man" ("Koroshi" and "Shinda Shima") later reedited into a feature film, Koroshi (1966) (TV) preempted "The Prisoner" for two weeks to buy him the needed time. Actor Kenneth Griffith, who plays The President in the final episode, has repeatedly claimed that he was asked to write his own speech (singular his). As the character talks only in speeches, this is less than clear, but at least Griffith specified that his point was how pressed for time McGoohan was.

McGoohan arranged for another actor to play Number Six for one episode (a mind-swap story) so he could take time off to film Ice Station Zebra (1968).

"Rover", the menacing white balloon that acts as a surreal sentry in The Village, was supposed to have been a large robotic machine. During the filming of the first episode, it was supposed to travel across water on a pair of rails hidden under the surface. The machine fell off the rails and into the water, damaging the motors inside. Just then, a weather balloon passed by, and McGoohan came upon the idea of "Rover" being a large white balloon that traveled by itself. The reason the cast stands still as Rover wanders past is because the balloon is being pulled by a wire. The shots were then run backwards, and edited into the film (In one episode, smoke can be seen drifting back into a chimney in the distance as Rover passes by).

It has been speculated that Number Six is in fact John Drake from McGoohan's earlier series, "Danger Man" (1964). Several references to the earlier series appear, and some believe he is referred to by name in one episode (though others interpret the dialogue differently). Officially sanctioned novels based on the series refer to Number Six as John Drake.

Patrick McGoohan was adamant that Number Six not become romantically involved with anyone on the series (carrying over a policy he put in place for his John Drake character in "Danger Man"). Nonetheless, writers tried to pair Number Six up with female leads on a few occasions, only to have their efforts vetoed by McGoohan. The characters played by Nadia Gray in "Chimes of Big Ben" and Angela Browne in "A Change of Mind" were both written as love interests for Number Six, and there was reportedly a bed scene written for "Chimes" but McGoohan would have none of it. The closest Number Six comes to romance is in his friendship/sympatico with Alison in "The Schizoid Man" and in the character of an observer who falls in love with him in "Dance of the Dead."

Interiors were shot in a studio located next door to the studio used for filming 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). A special effects shot of a starry sky that was created for the movie was borrowed by the producers of the TV series for use as an insert in an early edit of the episode "Chimes of Big Ben". Though cut from the televised version, the early edit of the episode including the 2001 footage was later released on video and DVD. (The starry night shot appears in the sequence where No. 6 uses a handmade device to study the sky in hopes of determining The Village's location).

Star and creator Patrick McGoohan planned to produce a movie remake in 2002, but plans were shelved.

Ron Grainer's theme music was titled "The Age of Elegance" and according to some sources predates "The Prisoner" by several years. However, many sources claim that the theme music is yet another creation of Patrick McGoohan himself. Reportedly, he whistled it into a tape recorder, Grainier transcribed that onto sheet music, did the arrangements and orchestrations and deserves credit for getting the music into good shape.

Patrick McGoohan and "Number 6" were both born on the same day, 19 March 1928 according to the episode Arrival.

The final two episodes, "Once Upon a Time" and "Fall Out", were filmed a year apart due to the decision to extend the series and a shaving scene had to be written into the latter episode to explain actor Leo McKern's change of appearance.

Unusually for a 1960s TV series, two episodes were broadcast without opening credits sequences: "Living in Harmony" and "Fall Out."

There is much debate over the proper order in which the episodes should be viewed, as neither ITV in Britain nor CBS in the US originally broadcast the episodes in production order. The A&E DVD release in 2001 placed the episodes in what it described as the "fan-preferred" order (though this is open for debate). The episode viewing order suggested by A&E is as follows: 1. Arrival 2. Free for All 3. Dance of the Dead 4. Checkmate 5. Chimes of Big Ben 6. A, B and C 7. The General 8. The Schizoid Man 9. Many Happy Returns 10. It's Your Funeral 11. A Change of Mind 12. Hammer Into Anvil 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

The series first aired on American TV in 1968 as a summer replacement for a Jackie Gleason series.

The building in Portmeirion shown as Number Six's house in the series became a gift shop selling Prisoner-related merchandise.

According to script editor and co-creator George Markstein, Number Six resigned from his position after discovering files indicating the existence of the Village. The Village was an idea Number Six had submitted to his superiors many years before but had since decided was monstrously inhuman.

The bald-headed man sitting behind the desk during the opening credits was George Markstein, script editor and co-creator of the series.

Among the musicians who worked on The Prisoner theme is guitarist Vic Flick, who also played the famous James Bond Theme in the early 007 movies.

Only two actors played Number Two more than once: Leo McKern in "Chimes of Big Ben," "Once Upon a Time" and "Fall Out"; and Colin Gordon in "The General" and "A, B and C." Several other actors who played Number Two also appeared in other roles in the series (e.g. Kenneth Griffith as No. 2 in "Girl Who Was Death" and as The Judge in "Fall Out.").

On several occasions since the 1970s, plans have been made to adapt The Prisoner into a motion picture. McGoohan once considered filming a sequel that took place 100 years or more after the TV series. The most recent attempt at a remake was announced in 2001 with McGoohan as executive producer and directed by Simon West.

Both Brian Cox, and 'Clough Williams Ellis' - creator of Portmeirion - worked on the series as extras.

Patrick McGoohan vehemently denies that Number Six is John Drake.

McGoohan also starred in an earlier TV film entitled The Prisoner (1963) (TV), which, while unrelated to this TV series, shared more than a few similarities with it.

Co-creator 'George Markstein' (I) later wrote a book about a real-life facility similar to (but nowhere near as sinister as) The Village which was reportedly set up in a remote area of Britain during WWII in order to protect people with knowledge of sensitive information.

Ranked #7 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Top Cult Shows Ever!" (30 May 2004 issue).

The series' enigmatic finale was so controversial that, according to legend, Patrick McGoohan had to go into hiding for a time.

In order to create their characteristic movement, the Rovers were filled with a mixture of air, helium and water.

In some shots, a pursuing Rover was managed by connecting it by wires to the feet of its "victim".

The 1967 world television premiere of the series was actually in Canada (on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-CBC) - shortly before the UK airing.


Filming locations:

Buckingham Place, Palace Street, Westminster, London, England, UK

(exterior of The Prisoner's flat - opening sequence)

Kursaal Amusement Park, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, UK

(funfair - episode 'The Girl Who Was Death')

London, England, UK

MGM British Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK


Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Wales, UK

Authors of the card

  • Creation date: 2003/07/01 by Alexlewebmaster
  • Last Update: 2007/05/01 by tiger08

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