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The Prisoner (1967)

This section is a complete guide to the original cult classic 1960's TV drama - The Prisoner.

Click on the items below to find out more about the world of Number Six and The Village.

Number 73 during an interrogation by Number 2, commits suicide by jumping from a Hospital window, Number 6 who hears her scream arrives too late to save her, and is told by Number 2 that he will pay for his interference. 'No you will' promises Number 6.

Hammer Into AnvilHaving ignored instructions from Number 2 to come and see him, Number 6 is forcibly taken to the Green Dome by Number 2's assistant Number 14 and three thugs. During the interview Number 2 tells Number 6 that you have to be Hammer or Anvil, and sees Number 6 as the Anvil whom he is going to Hammer, as he promises to break Number 6.

Hammer Into AnvilNumber 6 sees a flaw in Number 2's character, he is afraid of his masters, not to mention more than a touch paranoid! Number 6 then gets to work on Number 2's paranoia, by pretending that he has word from XO4 via a record of Bizet's L'arlesienne and writes something down on a piece of paper. He also makes a question mark over the word 'security' in the Tally Ho. This is of course observed by the shop keeper, who reports to Number 2, who having seen a written page from Number 6's writing pad, now thinks Number 6 is a plant, 'D6', sent here by 'their' masters. Number 6 knowing that 'they' are watching, hides a white envelope in the cabin of the stone boat, where Number's 2 and 14 find it.

Number 2 convinced that there is something written on the blank sheets of paper, words, figures, anything. But as a lab technician tries to explain to him, they are just blank sheets of paper!' Why should Number 6 hide blank sheets of paper in the stone boat?'

The technician has no idea. Number 6 then puts a private advert in the Tally Ho news paper, 'Hey mas aml en el aldea que se suena' a private joke between him and a certain friend. Then a call to the Hospital, Psychiatrics, head of the department, and in an authoritative voice asks the doctor about his report on our friend, Number 2. Of course the doctor hasn't the faintest idea of what the caller is talking about. The doctor tells Number 2 that he is not making a report on his mental health, but Number 2 doesn't believe him!

It was Number 6's voice on the telephone, and has the entire conversation on tape, he wants to know why Number 6 called him? The doctor suggests that he ask him! Number 2 then loose it, 'don't tell me what to do, would you like to sit in that chair?

Number 2 allows the doctor to leave, but it is not long before another citizen is brought before him, the leader of the Brass Band. Apparently Number 6 asked a request to be played, 'Farandale' from 'L'arlesienne', but then simply walked away! Number 2 is convinced that Number 6 said something other than asking for a request to be played, but the Band leader doesn't know what Number 2 is talking about. He is as much in the dark as Number 2 is! A birthday greeting to Number 6 from Number 113 is announced by the supervisor from the control room. It is not Number 6's birthday, and Number 113 doesn't exist, an old woman she died a month ago!

Now in the control room, Number 2 is in a rage, he sees the supervisor as working against him and has him replaced, warning the new supervisor to steer clear of Number 6 or he will loose more than his job! In his office Number 2 is studying a message Number 14 found in the personal column of the Tally Ho, a translation reads 'there is more harm in the village than is dreamt'. Number 14 is loyal to Number 2, and suggests that something be done about Number 6, he's out to poison the whole village! Number 2 sees that if anything happens to Number 6, our masters would find out who was responsible. Number 14 assures Number 2 that 'they' will never connect him with it. He is only too eager to 'dust' Number 6 down! Number 6 offers 'Kosho', Number 14 accepts the challenge, a bout which neither of them win! And so Number 6 continues with his plan of 'Disinformation', he places a Cuckoo clock at the door of the Green Dome, he sends off a coded message, tied to the leg of a Pigeon.

Number 2 is convinced it's a bomb, however as a bomb disposal man dismantles the Cuckoo clock it is clear that that is all it is! The pigeon captured, the coded message is fed into a computer and deciphered, 'vital message tomorrow at 06:00 by visual signal'.

On the beach Number 6 sends a Morse code by a mirror, which is taken down by an observer. The message is fed into a computer, but what goes in comes out, a new code and the computers not programmed for it! At the Caf', the waiter reports to Number 2 that Number's 6 and 14 were talking together. Number 2 wants to know what was said between them. Apparently Number 6 asked 14 if he had slept well, then spoke a lot of rubbish, then that the waiter was watching. Number 2 thought that 14 was the one man he could trust, but it is clear to him that Number 14 is a traitor and turns on him in a fit of rage, as he does his Butler.

Number 14 goes to '6 Private' accusing Number 6 of putting the poison in. A brutal fight ensues and 14 is thrown out through the French window and over the balcony. Number 2 now all alone is a broken man, a weak link in the chain of command waiting to be broken!

'You have to be Hammer or Anvil, remember?' Number 6 reminds him. And so Number2 is left to report a break down in control and that Number 2 needs to be replaced.

Number 6 is woken by Number 50, who is seeking his help in preventing an assassination. Not one to take anyone at face value, Number 6 forces her to spell it out to him, this so that the observers can hear her. 'They've heard, they are aware and they don't need anyone's help!' barks Number 6.

It's Your FuneralApparently 'They' don't believe her! Number 6 is very sceptical of the girl, and it soon becomes clear that she is being controlled by drugs! Number 2 watching the proceedings on a screen, is disappointed by the result, if only he had just a little more time!

It's Your FuneralThe supervisor reminds him that they are running late as it is. A telephone call from Number 1 sees Number 2 making all sorts of excuses for the lack of progress. But it is up to him to make Number 6 interested, without whose credibility, the plan might backfire!

A day's activity prognosis on Number 6 is ordered by Number 2. His assistant Number 100 is satisfied with his progress to date on 'Plan Division Q' they think of him as just another Number, kindred spirits, comrades. Number 6 is down on the lawn of the old people's home having his portrait painted, and learns all about 'Jammers'. 'Jammers', cause all kinds of mischief, hatching non existent plans of escape. But control cant know that until they have checked them out, they used to run themselves ragged. But not any more, now if control picks anything up from a known Jammer, they just let it ride.

Number 8 arrives with the activity prognosis on Number 6. He is very active, water skiing, Chess matches and his daily 'Kosho' practice, this is what Number 2 is looking for and Number 100 knows what he has in mind. At the gymnasium, Number 100 goes to Number 6's locker and while Number 6 is enjoying his 'Kosho' practice, he swaps Number 6's wrist watch for that of an identical one. Number 6 returns to his locker and finding that his watch has stopped, pays a call on the watchmaker. There he discovers a device which the watchmaker tells him is just a toy, but is in fact a radio detonator for a bomb! Outside the watchmakers Number 6 meets with Number 50, the watchmaker's daughter, that is why she was so concerned. And Number 6 has he changed his mind? Well he doesn't believe that a device to detonate explosive by radio is a toy and neither does her father!

Number 2 has been observing developments with his assistant Number 20, who whichever way you look at it, sees 'Plan Division Q' as murder! Monique {Number 50} and Number 6 visit her father to try and get him to change his mind, but he determined to see it through and wants to hear no more. He has met no one here who has committed a crime, he is going to protest in a manner they cannot ignore. It is the only way in which to wake the citizens from their lethargy! Assuming that they survive the punishment! Number 2 is delighted with the progress so far and couldn't be more pleased when Number 6 comes to pay him a call, warning him of the assassination plot against him. Number 2 feigns that he is unconcerned and makes Number 6 repeat his warning several times over, unknown that his every word is being recorded and will be edited against him into several such warnings!

Number 2 asks Number 6 to find out for him how they intend to go about it, for the laugh will do him an awful lot of good. Number 6 tells him that he may find out quite suddenly, and in which case he wont be laughing! Number 6 having no choice but to go on with it, he and Monique discover that her father has made a replica of 'The Great Seal of Office' worn by Number2 at ceremonies, and it's packed with explosive! Returning to the Green Dome, Number 6 wants to see Number 2, but there is another Number 2 now sitting in the chair, an older man who informs Number 6 that he has been on leave. He also is aware of the repeated warnings made by Number 6 to each of the interim Number 2's to serve here while he has been on leave, warnings of an assassination plot!

These warnings have been doctored, by his 'heir presumptive', soon to be the new Number 2, the current Number 2 is up for retirement. Number 6 warns him about 'The Great Seal of Office' being packed with explosive, and is to be detonated by radio at the 'Appreciation Day' ceremony. Number 2 minds what is about to happen to him, 'assassination' substitute 'execution!' Since it is by his own people, what can he do?

It looks very much like that 'They' are trying to save a pension! Appreciation Day arrives and the citizens gather to show their appreciation to those who govern us so wisely. The speeches by both Number 2's are given from the balcony of the Gloriette, and several 'Top-Hat' dignitaries are present. Monique and Number 6 find her father up in the Bell Tower with the detonator at the ready, there is little time left. With the explosion not yet occurred, Number 2 orders Number 100 to find out what's wrong. There is a fight between Number 100 who is no match for Number 6, who leaves him lying unconscious on the ground. On the balcony Number 6 gives the detonator to the retiring Number 2, it's his passport out of here.

The 'Seal of Office' now hangs about the head and shoulders of the new Number 2. Now he can look forward to his own retirement, and I'm sure 'They' will arrange something equally suitable for him, when the day comes!

Number 6 is undertaking his daily exercise routine in the woods. Two heavies arrive and accuse him of being antisocial for not using the community gym, and a fight ensues in which Number 6 defeats the thugs.

In the committee chamber, a villager is seen confessing to being "inadequate and anti-social", and being applauded by others for this admission. Number 6 is invited into the committee room to confess his lack of cooperation, but refuses to do so.

A Change of MindNumber 6 is seen being reported in the village newspaper for "further investigation" and others start avoiding him. Number 2 denies having any influence over the committee but warns of the results of non-compliance. Number 86 arrives and warns Number 6 about his non-cooperation.

Number 6's exposure of a community "rehab" process causes the committee to label him uncooperative, and he is taken to a medical facility where he meets a villager (with a scar on his temple) who says he had been labelled as "unmutual" but is now cured. Number 6 again appears before the committee and told he will be labelled for conversion if he doesn't fall into line. He then reads in the "Tally-Ho" and hears over the tannoy that he has been branded "unmutual". Number 6 is being ostracized and Number 2 threatens him with "social conversion". Number 6 is rounded up by the villagers and marched to the medical facility. He is strapped to a table and the conversion process is explained by Number 86, who is in charge of it.

Number 6 wakes up, apparently docile, returns to the community and is welcomed by all. In his flat he sees his cup of tea being drugged (as usual!) by Number 86 and pours it away. Number 2 arrives and questions Number 6 about his resignation, but is rebuffed. Number 86, watching Number 6 remove the dressing covering his "operation scar", doubts that he has been properly conditioned but Number 2 insists that all is well. Number 86 tries to drug Number 6 again, but he takes over the tea-making process, switching the cups so that Number 86 drinks the drugged tea.

In the woods, Number 6 initially appears confused and unable to show aggression, when the thugs reappear. Number 6 is able to get the better of them, however. Number 86 comes to the woods and is hypnotised by Number 6 into explaining how the conditioning process was faked; she is given certain instructions by Number 6.

Number 6 visits Number 2 and convinces him that the ploy has worked, informing him that he wants to tell "everyone". Number 2 arranges for the whole village to hear Number 6's public "confession". The programmed Number 86 arrives and charges Number 2 with "unmutuality", and Number 2 initially walks off pursued by the villagers, and is eventually forced to flee.

The mysterious 'They' are searching for enigmatic scientist Doctor Selzman, inventor of the consciousness-swap machine. Number 6 knows how Doctor Selzman can be located, but his lips are tightly zipped. So when Number 6 isn't looking, they swap his mind with that of The Colonel. And the rest of the episode occurs with Number 6's mind in The Colonel's brain, and The Colonel's mind in Number 6's brain. And, as all Number 6 does in lie in a bed wearing goggles, they could get McGoohan to do that scene when he returned.

Do Not Foresake Me, Oh My DarlingThe scientists walk into the Amnesia Room and then call it the Examination Room. Presumably they forgot where they were.

What I really found delightful about this episode is that the above plot, whilst being complicated, is never explicitly explained. You have to work it out for yourself. This makes a change from Number 2 explaining his latest wily scheme. It makes this episode seem a far more modern piece of telly.

Anyway, Number 6 wakes up to find himself inside the Colonel's body - "oh, god", he thinks, "How many The Girl Who Was Deaths did I drink last night?" And he's back in his flat, as seen in Many Happy Returns, and we hear his thoughts … this is odd. This episode reintroduces the premise of The Prisoner, but it doesn't reintroduce quite the same premise that was used for the previous dozen odd episodes. This isn't the McGoohan Number 6 - this is someone far less taciturn and far more tactile. This is someone with a clearly-drawn character, not an enigma with a constant narrow-eyed scowl.

We suddenly find out all sorts of things about the character. The job he resigned from. The name of his girlfriend - the fact that he has a girlfriend! We discover that he worked for her father, and that he's been away for exactly a year. Once again The Prisoner has turned into a completely different programme.

It reintroduces the show, and spells out what it's all about in no uncertain terms. This is what happens when McGoohan's out of the office and isn't rewriting the scripts - suddenly everything starts making sense!

And Number 6 meets his girlfriend... and kisses her. I can't imagine McGoohan playing this scene, and not just because he the only person Mr McGoohan kisses is Mrs McGoohan. It's because, firstly, the character of Number 6 is acting out of character, and secondly because the actor playing Number 6 isn't acting.

He should be doing a McGoohan impersonation. He should have the mannerisms, the scowl, the trapped wind. He should speak only in non-sequitors. He should prowl up and down, and occasionally pick up his radio and shake it. And he should occasionally smile as though he's just released the trapped wind.

There's a really good episode of Buffy where they do something similar, where Buffy and Faith swap bodies, and in that episode both the actresses do excellent impersonations of their counterpart.

So there is something of a missed opportunity, but I suppose McGoohan wouldn't be too keen on someone impersonating him, he doesn't strike me as being overladen with a self-effacing sense of humour.

Number 6 has, unfortunately, been mind-swapped into the body of a fat, old man. I can't help thinking that if he had been mind-swapped into the body of, to pluck a random example, the lovely Wanda Ventham, he would have been so keen to get his old body back. He'd be staying at home, standing in the front of the mirror in just his pants, smirking.

It would also have added a Sapphic dimension to the bit where he kisses his girlfriend. They had the ideal excuse for showing us lesbians and didn't use it! The homophobic sods.

Anyway, Number 6 knows how to find Dr Selzman. Number 6 goes to a chemist, collects his slides and slips them into his projector. By wearing some special magic-eye goggles and squinting, the name of Dr Selzman's home town appears. This is quite an extraordinarily complicated way of writing down the name of a town. I suppose the idea is that Number 6 didn't want to know the name of the town, he just wanted to know how he could find it out if he ever needed to, in the event of his mind being transplanted into the body of Jamie Oliver or something.

Hello, the undertakers are back outside Number 6's house! Is it a clue? No, it's recycled footage. And in some of the shots of the car, McGoohan is driving... Anyway, he has to drive to Dr Selzman's hide-out, the village of Kandersfeld in Austria. En route, he travels through a series of back projections. He has his car radio tuned to the various local stations, so as he drives we hear some authentic local folk music. It's deeply, deeply silly - very Austin Powers.

He finally catches up with Dr Selzman, and explains that he is Number 6, but in a different body. Selzman is appalled. "What have they done?" he cries. "My mind-swap device was never meant for this! It was meant to be used for me to enter the body of Wanda Ventham!" However, Number 6 has been pursued through the back projections by Number 2's henchman, who catches up with them in Dr Selzman's house. There's a fight, and noxious gas is released. Number 6 isn't smiling this time.

They return to The Village, and Dr Selzman agrees to divulge the secret of his mind-swap device. But first he wants to put Number 6 back into his own body, and he will only do this if Number 2 isn't watching. Number 2 agrees, because That's The Sort Of Thing Villains Do.

Up until this point Number 6 has basically been doing everything expected of him. It's for Dr Selzman to snatch victory from the dachshund of defeat. He returns Number 6's mind to his own body and swaps his own mind with the Colonel's, and sods off in a helicopter. The Colonel's mind is trapped in Dr Selzman's body, which then dies.

I'm not sure, but is this the first time that one of the bad guys in The Prisoner has been killed? I mean, they get pushed off of boats and thumped about a bit, but I don't recall any baddies actually dying.

On the whole - some poor characterisation and silly back-projections aside - this episode should be commended for being just so damn ingenious. Loved it.

BBC - Cult - Classic TV - The Prisoner (1967-1968)

The Prisoner gallops his horse across the open prairie. In the Marshal's office he hands in his Sheriff's badge, unbuckles his gun belt and drops it on the desk before walking out.

Living in HarmonyAlone on the prairie carrying his saddle on his shoulder, the man with no name is confronted by a gunslinger. Catching him off guard with his saddle, the prisoner sends him reeling backwards down a slope and is on him in an instant. But when knocked to the ground, five other men suddenly appear, the prisoner being determined tries to take them all on, but is forced to his knees by the onslaught of fists. Strapped to the back of a horse the gunmen take the prisoner to the town of 'Harmony', where he is welcomed by a Mexican, who tells him that he looks like a man who could do with a drink, 'why not try the Saloon?' Standing at the bar a glass of whisky is slide toward him, Cathy {a saloon girl} tells him that regulars get the first one on the house!

But he's not regular, and as he goes to pick up the glass, it is shot out of his hand by another gunslinger, known as 'The Kid'. With another glass in his hand the prisoner scans the salon, his eyes falling on a man sitting at a table playing solitaire, this is the Judge and at whose table the Kid stands. The Judge knows all about the man with no name, that's why he's here, he's turned in his badge and the Judge wants to hire him.

But the prisoner is not interested, he's moving on. He tries to buy a horse from the stables, the Bay is $5,000, the rest are expensive! Turning from the stables he is confronted by some of the town's people, they want to know if he fancies living in Harmony? It's a good town. But the prisoner doesn't like how its run, they can keep it!

This is an insult to the town's people and they set upon him in anger. Dropping his saddle the prisoner picks up a length of wood and turns to face them. A gunman appears and breaks it up, taking the prisoner to jail, where the Judge orders that he be locked up under protective custody. Johnson is brought out of his cell, dragged outside and hanged. Much to the distress of Cathy, who sees her brother hanging from the end of a rope!

The Kid is in the jail quenching his thirst form a bottle of whisky and looking after the prisoner, who is calmly lying back on his bunk bed in his cell. Cathy {for whom the Kid has a passion} pays the Jailhouse a visit, joining the Kid in a drink, she manages to steal the Jailhouse keys. Outside Cathy hands the prisoner the keys through the bars of his cell window. The kid now asleep in his chair from the effects of the whisky, the prisoner makes good his escape and is met by Cathy at the stable where she has a horse waiting for him. The only way out of town is due north. The prisoner doesn't get very far before he is dragged back to town at the end of a rope by the Judges men. In the Saloon a trial takes place, the people of Harmony against Cathy Johnson, for aiding and abetting the escape of a prisoner! Found guilty of the charge, Cathy is taken to the Jailhouse. Latter the trigger happy Kid tries to pick a gun fight with the prisoner, who refuses to pick up a gun. The Judge manages to pacify the Kid, telling him there's always another time. Over in the jailhouse the Kid ogles Cathy's every move, the prisoner tells the Judge to 'let her go' and snatches the Sheriffs badge out of the Judges hand. For Cathy's safety he agrees to wear the badge but not the gun, the Judge sees this as a start, his men will persuade him that it's not safe to walk around without a gun.

Take Zeke, he doesn't carry a gun either, but then he doesn't need to! Zeke picks a fight with the Sheriff, and it isn't long before the rest of the Judges men join in. But the Sheriff gives as good as he gets, and in the end is the last man left standing, if only just!

What will it take for the Sheriff to put on his gun? The Kid has picked a gun fight in the Saloon with Will, who he draws on and shoots dead. The town's people tell the Sheriff to do something about 'get some guns on!' The Sheriff and Cathy decide to leave town, but as the prisoner takes care of the lookouts on the road out of town, in the Saloon Cathy has been strangled by the Kid. This is the act which sees the prisoner finally put on his gun, and a gun fight with the Kid, leaves him lying dead in the street. A shootout with the Judges gunslingers in the Saloon, sees the man with no name shot by the Judge!

The prisoner comes too lying on the floor of the Saloon with a microphone headset on. The Judge, the Kid, and horses are all life size cardboard cut outs! Running out of town along a country lane, the prisoner reaches the village. In the Green Dome is Number 2 {the Judge}, Number 8 {the Kid} and Number 22 {Cathy}, on the wall screen the town of Harmony.

Using hallucinatory drugs, speaking through microphones, giving the prisoner love, take it away from him, isolate him, make him kill, he'll crack. However it seems that the events in 'Harmony' have had an effect on everyone concerned, as when returning to the Saloon, Number 8 strangles Number 22, then throws himself over a balcony, so that the Judge wont hit him no more!

The basic plot of "The Girl Who Was Death" appears to be Number Six on a past assignment, before he went to The Village. He has to track down Professor Schnipps, a mad scientist who wants to destroy London. Number Six dresses up as an army Colonel, with moustache and attitude, and tracks down a seductive woman called Sonia, alias "Death", who sets a series of deadly traps for him.

The Girl Who Was DeathIt has nothing to do with The Village, or Rover or people wearing stripy shirts and white-trim black blazers. Its only concessions to being an episode of The Prisoner are the device of having Number 6 narrate the story to some kids (storybook illustrations cover the commercial breaks - with a helicopter journey illustrated by a picture of an aeroplane!) and the final scene where number 2 and his assistant turn out to resemble characters from the 'story within the story'.

Which doesn't make sense, of course. Unless Number 6 is, in some way, satirizing Number 2 and his assistant. Which would tie in with Fall Out - the Number 2 character from The Girl Who Was Death returning in that episode, which also features a rocket. But how would number 6 know about the rocket?

No, that makes even less sense. That's the problem with trying to explain The Prisoner. The more you try to fit the pieces together, the more you realise you are working with the jigsaw of a loon.

What the Alan Moore fan in the attic doesn't appreciate is that it's really rather easy to write ambiguous stories that are left open for the reader to interpret. All you have to do is not bother about making sense. What is difficult is writing stuff that does make sense, where it all fits together. That's proper writing.

Anyway, this episode takes the form of a chase. McGoohan's some sort of secret agent investigating an assassination at a cricket match where a Colonel with a terrifically big moustache was fatally maimed by an exploding googly. Having received some information and a shoe-buffing from Henry Gordon Christopher Benjamin Jago, McGoohan decides to investigate - in disguise. i.e. he wears a terrifically big moustache.

It transpires that the assassination was the work of The Girl Who Was Death, a kookie Sixties chick with oriental eye make-up and a white fur collar. She leads McGoohan on a merry goose chase, providing clues which lead him into a series of increasingly bizarre death-traps. One minute you think everything's going fine, she's laughing at your jokes, then next thing you know you're tied to a bench in a sawmill with a blade heading for your googlys.

The Girl Who Was Death invites McGoohan to a pub where he is served a pint. As he drinks it, the words 'You have just been poisoned' are revealed.

Which is a) the second coolest thing in the episode (and possibly in the whole of The Prisoner) and b) a little silly, because if he'd held the glass the other way round it would have read `poisoned been just have you'. Which wouldn't make sense, unless you're Yoda.

The coolest thing in the episode (and possibly in the whole of The Prisoner) is how McGoohan stops the lager from poisoning him. He drinks everything behind the bar and then chunders the lot up! Excellent! Just as Alan Partridge fans have been known to drink "Ladyboys", I hope all the members of the Prisoner fan club get together on their weekends in Portmierion to re-enact this scene and get manged off their faces on "The Girl Who Was Death"s.

It's the Sixties, so we don't bat an eyelid when our inebriated hero then goes to a Turkish bath dressed as Sherlock Holmes. He is, after all, completely out of his hole. We should bear in mind that our hero has been drinking a vast amount of alcohol by this point - it will make much of what follows that much clearer.

Oh no! He's been locked inside his steamer with his head under a fishbowl! This is not implausible. We've all been on disastrous blind dates where, within fifteen minutes, the girl is thinking up a series of bizarre and painful deaths for the person she is with. It's happened to me. Admittedly I've never ended up locked in a steamer with my head under a fishbowl, but I put that down to mere luck.

But that's the 'theme' of this episode. It's the most disastrous Blind Date in the world. She takes him to the pub, the fairground, the Tunnel of Love... and at each step of the way, just as he thinks he's about to get some TGWWD action, there's an ominous rumble and spikes start to descend from the ceiling.

McGoohan continues to wear his terrifically big moustache and Sherlock outfit. Why? Because Patrick McGoohan wouldn't film any of the fairground location sequences.

We get a mish-mash of location footage featuring someone else dressed in deerstalker and terrifically big moustache, together with cutaways to Patrick McGoohan in front of a back projection. In a way, it highlights the subtext of the episode - what is reality, after all, but a vast back projection? Aaaah.

Still mashed out of his arsing brains, McGoohan decides to go for a drive. But - and let this be a warning to all potential drink-drivers - the road starts to spin! I have never taken the wheel under the influence of a "Ladyboy", but if I had, I imagine it would be something like that.

She's definitely one of those 'blowing hot and cold' types. She invites him back to her place for coffee, he thinks his luck has changed, only for 'her place' to turn out to be a deserted town filled with insane booby-traps. And I thought that date where the girl said she had to leave because she had an early start the next morning AFTER FIVE MINUTES OF SPEAKING TO ME had gone badly.

Funnily enough, she also had a bazooka. McGoohan is locked in a room with exploding candles releasing arsenic, or cyanide, or something like that. His escape plan is utterly ingenious. If you haven't seen it, I'll spoil it for you by saying the words 'big bellows'.

Where next? It's merely a short helicopter / aeroplane ride to - and by this stage McGoohan is so absolutely titted, he's hallucinating - a lighthouse. A secret passage leads to a room full of Napoleon regalia.

Maybe there is a Freudian subtext to this episode. It's about a man who is attracted to a woman but repelled by her. He's afraid to get too close - maybe he has a fear of intimacy? Plus there's all the phallic imagery - the bazooka, the candles, the terrifically big moustaches. And then there's an embarrassing climax where a rocket goes off prematurely. Interpret that how you will.

Anyway. It turns out that TGWWD is the daughter of Schnipps, a strange, short, shouty man who intends to destroy London with his big rocket. Which has been disguised as a lighthouse - the same lighthouse from one of the earlier episodes - maybe Number 6 remembered it and decided to incorporate it into his story?

McGoohan is locked at the top of the lighthouse oh what was he in and Schnipps and his daughter start the countdown oh it's on the tip of my tongue and she makes a gag about 'hitting town' oh god this is unbearable what was it what was it and then they start the launch countdown oh god what was he in what was he in and the villain is a bit daft because he's decided to pack after starting the countdown, that's poor time management oh what was it what was it-

In many ways, the episode is a precursor of 70's James Bond. Indeed, some parts of it are virtually indistinguishable from (my favourites) Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me.

BBC - Cult - Classic TV - The Prisoner (1967-1968)

Number 2 has an important decision to make regarding Number 6.

Sitting in his chair he goes through a black file, while watching past times of the prisoner in the village on the wall screen. 'Going to escape, escape and come back.

Once Upon a TimeWipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it' Number 6 tells Number on the screen. 'Unlike me many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment and will die here like rotten cabbages'. Number 2 picks up a telephone and speaks to Number 1'Degree Absolute, I require approval'.. if you think he is that important, there's no other alternative. You must risk either one of us'. I am a good man, I was a good man, but if you get him he will be better and there's no other way'.' 'I will make no deals with you, I've resigned'..' states the prisoner on the screen ''I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or Numbered, my life is my own'.

Number 2 is told that he has a week, but sees that as not long enough 'you don't want to damage him!' In the control room Number 2 puts the supervisor under orders, Degree Absolute. An emergency? Well it has to be, the supervisor wants to check, but Number 2 tells him to check nothing! All subsidiary personnel are released, time sheets as normal' double night time! Now alone in the control room Number 2 assisted by the supervisor checks the slumbering Number 6's profundity and commences to alter one aspect of the prisoner's mental processes, by counting down to five several times then holding on 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5.

Number 2 then leaves the supervisor to it, 'it's all your for one week, Degree Absolute'operate!' In '6 Private' Number 6's sleep is deepened by the pulsator suspended over his face, Number 2 enters and recites nursery rhymes to Number 6. 'Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King's horses and all the Kings men, couldn't put Humpty together again'. 'Jack and Jill went up the hill to get a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after' 'Oh the Grand old Duke of York''..' and so on one after the other all through the night.

Then cometh the morning cometh the child, 'want to go walkies?' From Number 2's office, he, the child prisoner and the Butler, go underground to the 'Embryo Room' where you can relive from the cradle to the grave. 'Seven ages of man' William Shakespeare.

One teeny weeny week is all the time Number 2 has {aided by the Butler} to extract the prisoner's resignation secret. The prisoner, his mind regressed back to his childhood, is taken by Number 6 through the various stages of life, at home, school, work and military service. And in each case Number 2 plays ht authoritative figure, father, boxing and fencing coach, headmaster, employer, Judge and military commander.

As his father he always speaks well of his mother. At school the prisoner demonstrates his rebellious nature at an early stage, he maybe a fool, but he's not a rat!

His headmaster tells him that he must not grow up to be a lone wolf! He must conform, it is his sworn duty to see that he does conform. The pupil must take six of the best!

'Twelve sir, so that I can remember' returns the pupil. It is the Butler who administers the punishment. But in the end the pupil graduates with honours, their prize pupil, who has leant to manage his rebellious spirit, they are proud to see that his obedience is absolute!

'Why did you resign?' as the headmaster. The pupil is confused 'from what sir?'

'Top secret, state secret, confidential job' as the two begin to struggle. The butler has to render the pupil unconscious by the aid of a truncheon! As a boxer the prisoner is told by his coach, that he's the chap, were major. While at fencing the prisoner is told not to hit and run, he must not treat it as a game. When told to kill by his coach, the prisoner it seems it afraid to prove that he's a man.His resignation was an act of cowardice, wasn't it? And when he finally rams the tip of his 'Epee' into the shoulder of this coach, he is sorry, sorry.

'Sorry, you're sorry for everybody, is that why you resigned?' barks Number 2. At a job interview it is plain that the prisoner is admirably suited for the position.

They have been watching him and he is just right. It's a job for life, till death do us part. It is also a cover for secret work, a top secret confidential job. The prisoner rides around the embryo room on a garden lawn mower, to the sound of London traffic, he is caught speeding by a policeman {the Butler} and is brought before the Judge, who tell him that he is guilty of speeding on a public highway. How many dead? He was travelling at great speed! The prisoner pleads that he was on a mission, a matter of life and death, Secret business which he cannot tell the Judge because such business is above the law! Found guilty the prisoner is dragged away and locked up. The prisoner was rebelling, rebelling against the figure he pleads to the Judge. And so it continues, through the prisoner's military service right up to the final desperate few minutes left to Number 2, time is now running out for him! The moment arrives when the prisoner gains the upper hand and swops places with Number 2. This is a recognised method used in Psychoanalysis the patient must come to trust his doctor totally. Sometimes they change places, which can be a risk if the doctor has problems of his own. The prisoner now the stronger character has beaten Number 2, he's the boss now. The final few second tick away on the clock, Number 2 after drinking his wine, lies dead on the floor, the prisoner and Butler are joined in the 'Embryo Room' by the supervisor who congratulates him.

'We'll need the body for evidence' the supervisor tells him 'what do you desire?'

'Number 1 'retorts the prisoner.

'We thought you would be happier as yourself' the supervisor informs the prisoner, at being given his original clothes.

As the prisoner, supervisor and Butler walk along a stone walled corridor, lined with Juke Boxes, the song 'All you need is love' is booming out. They are greeted at a door by the words 'Well come".

Fall OutThe Butler opens the door with a key and the trio enter the Cavern beyond. It is full of people in white cowls and black and white masks. There are armed security guards in white helmets and blue overalls, technicians, a medical team in surgical gowns. Oh yes and 'The President' in scarlet gown and white powdered wig. There are electrical switch gear cabinets, a large wall screen, an elaborate 'Throne', a steel tube with a large red 1 upon it. A steel see saw device, with a man at each end at a Maxim machine gun.

Number 6 is presented by the supervisor, but as he has survived the ultimate test, he must no longer be referred to as number 6 or any number of any kind. He has gloriously vindicated the right of the individual to be individual. 'This assembly rises to you'. Sir' says The President. Sir's indulgence is craved and The President suggest that perhaps he would care to observe the preliminaries from the chair of honour. The assembly has been called in a matter of democratic crisis and the preliminaries take the form of a trial of three revolutionaries. The first is a young man, number 48, a hippie wearing a black military tunic, white frilly shirt, black top hat and a bell around its neck!

This then is uncoordinated youth, with its enthusiasm, which rebels against any accepted norm, because it must. And we sympathise, it may wear flowers in its hair, bells on it toes. But when the common good is threatened, when the function of society is endangered, such revolts must cease. Number 48 sees this as a crazy scene, he leaps about the cavern causing mayhem and disruption to all around, singing a song called 'Dry Bones'.

In the end the youth has to be restrained and held in a place of security until Sir's Inauguration. The next revolutionary is an entirely different kettle of fish, an established, successful, secure member of the establishment turning on and biting the hand that feeds him. Who has now has been 'resurrected', his beard shaven off to leave just a mustache, his hair a different colour, in fact all in all he feels like a new man!

He greets Sir with a hand shake 'throne at last, I knew it had to be' and his little friend the butler 'ever faithful'. But the Butler has new Allegiances such is the price of fame and failure, how sad! Number 2 addresses the assembly. 'It has been my lot in the past to wield a not inconsiderable power, having the ear of statesmen, kings and princess of many lands. Governments have been swayed, revolutions nipped in the bud at a word from me in the right place and at a propitious time'.

So it is not surprising that this Community should find a use for him and that one day he should be abducted and wake up here amongst you. 'What is so deplorable is that I resisted for so short a time, a fine tribute to your methods!' declares number 2. Wanting to die with his own mind, number 2 takes off his badge and looks into the 'eye' of the steel tube, giving number 1 a stare, even to spit into it!

Having transgressed, the ex-number 2 is held in a place of security, until Sir's Inauguration. The third revolutionary has revolted, resisted, held fast, maintained, destroyed resistance, overcome coercion. The right to be person, someone or individual, we applaud his private war. And we concede, he has survived intact and secure. We recognise a man of steel, magnificently equipped to lead us. That is lead us'.. or go! Sir is unsure of what to do, he can see on the wall screen that his house and Lotus Seven are being made ready for him. He is presented with the key to his house, a passport {valid for anywhere}, traveller's cheques {a million} and petty cash. He is free to go anywhere.

The President tells Sir that has been an example to us all, he has convinced them of their mistakes. He is pure, he knows the way, show us. His revolt has been good and honest, you are the only individual we need you. Sir makes an attempt to address the assembly, but every time he begins, the assembly shouts him down. Sir shouts at the top of his voice in order to try and make himself heard, the lips move, but we do not hear his voice!

Finally exhausted Sir stops as does the shouting of the assembly with a 'hip hip hooray!

Now we take it that Sir is ready to meet ''Number 1? The steel tube is in fact a rocket, and it is in the control room that Sir finally gets to meet number 1. A figure in a white cowl and black and white mask, holds out a crystal ball in which Sir sees his future and lets slip from his grasp, smashing into a thousand splinters of glass!

He tears away the mask of number 1 only to reveal the mask of an Ape underneath. Torn away this reveals the face of number 1. It is into his own face that Sir stares, he is himself number 1! The sudden maniacal laughter of number 1 fills the control room of the rocket as he climbs up a ladder into an upper level sealing himself inside. Sir sets the countdown controls for the rocket and with the help of the Butler, ex-number 2 and number 48, Sir leads the attack and a vicious fire fight takes place in bloody revolution!

The President orders an evacuation of the village. The four comrades escape the village in a cage mounted on the back of a low loader lorry with the Butler at the wheel which crashes through a pair of iron gates at the end of a tunnel just as the rocket blasts off.

Travelling along the A20 to London, the top hated hippie it dropped off, leaving his three companions to travel the remainder of the way without him. The lorry comes to a stop on the Thames embankment and the three companions alight the vehicle and continue their way on foot. The ex-number 2 enters the House of Lords, while Sir and The Butler catch a bus on Westminster bridge. Finally walking along Buckingham Place, Sir and the Butler arrive home at number 1, his Lotus Seven parked at the kerb. A hearse drives slowly past as Sir climbs into his Lotus. He then starts the engine and drives off into the busy London traffic.

The Butler mounts the steps and enters No 1 Buckingham Place, the door to which opens automatically for him.

Dark storm clouds gather as a green, yellow nosed sports car hurtles down a along and deserted road.

This Number 2 believes that Number 6 was going to sell out. He wants to know what he had to sell and to whom he was going to sell it?

A doctor {Number14} has developed a new wonder drug, which hasn't even been finished testing on animals yet, let alone people! Then now is her chance, tonight and on the subject'..Number 6.

A B & CIn a laboratory Number 6 lies upon an operating table, he is drugged and has electrodes fitted to his head and wrists. A syringe {the first of three doses}, is taken and its contents injected into him. As this happens Number 6 opens his eyes and sees the doctor, her face appearing on the large wall screen. The doctor closes his eyelids and the experiment begins.

The idea is to get into Number 6's dreams, to find out what would have happened if they had not got to him first.And so the prisoner appears at Madam Engadine's celebrated party, Engadine is a friend of the prisoner's. He tells her that he is going on holiday, somewhere different, quiet where he can think. He is then introduced to 'A', a man who made world history a few years ago. He has heard news of the prisoner, who was once his friend. He is eager to find out what he has to sell. Indeed 'A' kidnaps the prisoner, well he's saving himself money!

But later a fight breaks out and the prisoner leaves his old friend 'A' lying beaten up on the ground. At least we know it wasn't 'A' he was selling out to!

Number 6 awakens in his own bed. Outside his cottage door, there is a flower seller selling flowers to Number 14 {the doctor}, Number 6 seems to recognise her and suddenly looks at his right wrist to see the small bruised puncture mark. A visit to Number 2 sees a man who drinks a lot of milk, he is apparently suffering from an ulcer. Number 6 tells him that they haven't seen a great deal of each other, to which Number 2 responds, 'I don't spend all my time spying'.

Pouring out a glass of milk for Number 2, Number 6 takes the opportunity to show him the puncture mark 'anyone who has nothing to hide would ask where I got it?' Number 2 asks where he got it?Number 6 replies in his sleep. Number 2 suggests that he must have been restless and that he should have a check up. Number 6 has a favourite doctor, Number 14!

 That night Number 6 is once again lying on an operating table in that same laboratory. A second dose of the drug has been administered. 'B' is now to be introduced, a very good spy, from a very long line of spies. Who turns out to be an old friend of Number 6. The last time he saw her, she was hiking across the mountains to Switzerland. This time the doctor not only feeds Number 6 with pictures but also with words, in order to manipulate his dream. 'B' needs something to swap, 'They' want to know why he resigned? If he just tells her it will get her off the hook, or 'They' will kill her!

But Number 6 is not falling for it, he asks 'B' questions which she cannot answer, or rather that Number 2 cannot find the answers to. 'B' is not who she pretends to be, and Number 6 walks away leaving her to her fate. The next morning Number 6 sits on the edge of his be after a second disturbed nights sleep. Now there are two tiny puncture marks on his right wrist! Later that morning as Number 14 makes her way to the laboratory, Number 6 manages to follow her undetected. He enters the laboratory via an air conditioning shaft and once the doctor has left the laboratory Number 6 makes a search and discovers what has been happening to him.

There is a third syringe, Number 6 squirts some of the liquid out, topping it up with water and there by diluting the effect of the drug. That evening Number 6 pours his nightly cup of hot Chocolate down the sink, fills a glass with water from the cold tap and drinks it. Moments later he is lying on the floor in his bedroom unconscious!

Taken to the laboratory this is Number 2's last chance, it has to be 'C', all that is known is that 'C' is French, and to have attended Engadine's parties, probably disguised. Here things begin to go wrong for Number 2, 'It's a dreamy party' and Engadine turns out to be a mere contact for Number 6. Even she works for someone else! 'C' is a man heavily disguised in black. A cloak, broad brimmed hat and face mask. To him anonymity is the best disguise and what the prisoner has to sell is merely a commodity.

Number 2 is eager to see who the man is as Number 6 tears the mask from his head. Spinning 'C' round to face those who are watching, it is Number 2 who stares back at his own face! On the wall screen he and the doctor watch as Number 6 enters the laboratory and hands Number 2 a white envelope.

Number 2 implores his alter ego on the screen to open the envelope. It contains holiday brochures.

The Prisoner really was going on holiday.

Number 6 awakens to the announcement of an 'Arts & Crafts Exhibition'. However he is not a man to join in. In fact his defiance of the village is demonstrated by his placing the black loudspeaker inside his refrigerator!

Number 2 informs his assistant that he does not want Number 6 broken, doesn't want a man of fragments. 'I want him with a whole heart, body and soul!' There is brought to the village, a new inmate who is immediately moved into '8 Private' a neighbour to Number 6. According to Number she has been brought here to recuperate!

The Chimes of Big BenAfter awakening in what appears to be her own home, Number 8 is invited for lunch at the Green Dome. But not knowing where she is, Number 8 asks Number 6 if he could take her over there to the Green Dome. 'Across the square, across the street, up the steps you can't miss it'.

In the evening Number 6 invites Number 8 in for a night cap. She tells him that her name is Nadia Rakowski, and that she is an Estonian. She sees Number 2 as being a very charming man and would expect his assistant to be the same! 'But what about you'.. Number 8?

The next day Number 6 watches Nadia down on the beach from the top of the cliffs. She is wearing a black swimsuit and taking to the water begins to swim away from the village.

An orange alert is issued from the control room and a guardian despatched to bring her back. Half drowned, half suffocated the unconscious body of Nadia is brought back to the beach and taken to the Hospital by two medical Orderly's. umber 6 is requested by Number 2 to meet him at the Hospital. There he is forced to witness Nadia's interrogation. 'They' want to know what was in her mind, was she attempting suicide'suicide'suicide? In the end Number 6 cannot stand any more, he orders Number 2 to 'let her go!' He offers Number 2 a deal, if he turns the girl over to him, he will try to settle down, join in. He might even carve something for the exhibition! This is a deal which Number 2 is all to ready to accept and as time passes, enjoys seeing how well Number's 6 and 8 are getting along together. In fact things couldn't be going better!

In the woods where they can be seen and not heard, Number 6 asks Nadia if she was sent here because she discovered the whereabouts of the village? 'It's no good' Nadia tells Number 6 'I couldn't swim so far!' Number 6 tells Nadia that if he knew where he was sailing from, he could calculate where he was sailing to by boat!

Number 6 has fashioned together a stone axe and chisel and under the guise of carving a sculpture {three pieces} for the exhibition, has in fact roughly hewn a boat out of the trunk of a felled tree.

Number 2 couldn't be more delighted at seeing how Number 6 is settling down and turns a blind surveillance eye regarding the tools he has made. That evening Nadia tells Number 6 where the village is, 30 miles from the Polish boarder. And that what she wants is to hear the chimes of Big Bill. 'Big Ben' Number 6 corrects her. The day of the 'Arts & Crafts Exhibition' arrives and the three piece sculpture of Number 6's is on display, much to the bewilderment of the awards committee.

However Number 6 is the winner of a special awards merit of 2,000 free work units for the best work in his class. With this he buys the tapestry of Number 38, to hang in his own home. However the tapestry acts as a sail for the boat which Number's 6 & 8 put together down on the beach at night fall, and in which they sail away from the village. The boat is picked up on radar in the control room and a guardian is despatched to bring the pair of escapees back to the village. However Nadia's contact man is waiting amid the rocks by the mouth of a cave, he has a high powered rifle and shoots at the membranic mass as it pursues Nadia and Number 6, who have by this time had to swim for it!

Once in the cave Nadia and Number 6 are sealed in a crate by Nadia's contact man, to be despatch to London via Danzig and Copenhagen, a journey of 12 hours. The crate arrives at its destination an office somewhere in London, where both the Colonel and Fotheringay are waiting to take delivery. After the crate is opened, Nadia and Number 6 pause to listen to the chimes of Big Ben, after which the Colonel is left alone with his ex colleague to begin his debriefing. 'The night is young and there are many questions, first why did you resign?' 'I resigned because for a very long time''..'

Big Ben has just struck eight, the prisoner's watch says eight. Strange when there is one hours difference between English and Polish time!

It has all been a cleverly executed plan, to make Number 6 think he is back in London. But when Number 6 walks out of the Colonels office, he does clicking his fingers, out into the village.

Upon The Prisoner's arrival, he leaves his cottage and sets out to explore the village. First climbing the Bell Tower, then at the cafe he has several questions for the waitress. 'Where is this?' 'Where's the police station?' 'Where can I make a call?'

ArrivalAt the telephone kiosk, the prisoner asks the operator 'what exchange is this? I want to make a call to'.' The operator asks him his Number, to which the prisoner tells her that he doesn't have a Number. 'No Number no call' returns the operator.

The prisoner takes a taxi ride, asking the driver to take him to the nearest town. But the Oriental taxi driver informs him that they are only the local service. 'Take me as far as you can' asks the prisoner. After a tour of the village, the prisoner asks for a map of the area at The General Store. 'Colour or Black and White?' asks the shopkeeper. However both 'Maps of Your Village' show only the village, the sea, the woods and the mountains. There's no call for a larger area!

The Green Dome is the seat of power and is the residence of Number 2, and it is not long before the prisoner is invited to breakfast by Number 2. Breakfast quickly turns into an interrogation. The prisoner wants to know who brought him here? And what gives them the right to poke their nose in his private business? Number 2 has a question for the prisoner, 'They' want to know why he resigned? Everything about him is in his file, except for one detail, his time of birth, 'now lets bring it all up to date'. '4:31am 19ath March 1928' returns the prisoner.

There follows an aerial tour of the village, by helicopter for the prisoner, in the company of Number 2 and the Butler piloting the Alouette. Then a short taxi ride and Number 2 leaves the prisoner to take a short stroll through the village.

Citizens are out and about the village, musicians of the Brass Band make their way to the Bandstand. Two citizens greet the prisoner 'beautiful day' they salute. Suddenly a man begins to run around in no particular direction, Number 2 orders him to 'be still'. But the man persists, until the appearance of the white membranic mass of the village guardian, which attacks the man, knocking him down to the ground and suffocating him.

Number 2 then takes the prisoner to the Labour Exchange, where he is asked to fill in a questionnaire, race, religion, what he is, what he wants to be, any politics? The prisoner refuses to co-operate and storms out.

Returning to his cottage, a sign has been placed by the door '6 Private'. Inside the prisoner finds a maid busy dusting, he tells her to get out and smashes a black radio speaker in anger, but despite this the music stills plays! The maid then returns, telling him that if he gives her some sort of information 'they' will let her go., The prisoner sees through the maid telling her to 'get out' and that her services will not be required tomorrow! An electrician pays a call at '6 Private' where adjustment is needed, a replacement for the smashed speaker. The prisoner feeling like a bit of a walk, sets out on his first escape attempt. Down on the beach two men in a taxi give chase to the prisoner, who manages to over power them and steal the taxi. But as he drives off across the sand, the village guardian appears ahead of him. The prisoner leaps from the taxi and attacks the guardian, but his struggles against it are much in vain. The prisoner's face is covered by its membrane and is left lying unconscious on the sand.

The prisoner wakes up in bed in Hospital. Here he meets with an old colleague, Cobb. After a medical the Doctor pronounces the prisoner as 'absolutely fit', and will be allowed to go home in the morning. Meanwhile, Cobb has jumped from a window. He's dead! Having been issued with a credit card, Identity card, Health and Welfare card and card of employment, the prisoner is given a free ride home, he then pays a call on Number 2. Here Number 2 refers to the prisoner as Number 6. The prisoner tells Number 2 'I am not a Number I am a person!


At Cobb's funeral Number 6 meets Number 9, and so embarks on a second escape plan, aided by Number 9, who is in procession of an 'Electro Pass'. This is a device which synchronises with the alarm system, allowing Number 6 to get aboard the helicopter and take to the sky. Once in the air Number 6 is allowed to fly only so far away from the village, before the helicopter is taken over by remote control from the control room and flown back to the village. In the control room, Number 2 bids Au Revoir to Cobb, whose death was for the benefit of Number's 9 & 6. The helicopter lands returning its passenger to the village, who is then herded away by the guardian.

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