Production: GB, 1966

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat, Leo McKern, Basil Dignam, Michael Nightingale, Michael Billington, Derren Nesbitt, Colin Gordon, Al Mancini, Patrick Cargill, Georgina Cookson, Alexis Kanner.

Some TV shows are remembered for their absolute originality, never achieved again, and “The prisoner” is undoubtedly considered one of them.
The plot of this Kafkaesque show is quite simple: a british government officer, presumably a secret agent, resigns and leaves his chief office. While his name is erased from government archives and he is preparing to flee (we always see this sequence during the opening titles), someone lets soporific gas into his apartment and he gets asleep.
Waking again, apparently he is still in his apartment, but when he looks outside through the window, there’s the surprise: he is no more in London, but in a strange village with bizarre retro buildings, populated by people with bizarre clothes and habits.
There’s no way to discover where the village is exactly located, and everyone there has no name but a number, and he is number 6.

Nobody knows who number 1 is, and since the first episode number 6 is pestered and persecuted by number 2, the village major, who has a sole aim: discover why number 6 has resigned.
It is quite clear that most inhabitants of the village share number 6 destiny: former government officers or agents who have imprisoned there, to have their informations or to prevent them to be divulgated.
Guarding the village to avoid any escape there are video cameras hidden everywhere (and a control room operating 24 hours a day), and strange rubber balloons called “rovers” which pursuit and knock down any person trying to leave the village.
The number twos (in almost every episode there is a different one) use very
effective means of persuasion, hidden or not, and psychological pressures of any kind, but while all the village people look to be totally and idiotically resigned to their fate, number 6 is not absolutely intentioned to surrender, and at the end of every episode number 2 fails his task to break the prisoner’s resistance and strong will.
Number 6 tries several times to escape, but there’s no use because he is always caught and taken again to the village.
The serie, created, produced and played by actor Patrick McGoohan (who had previously been secret agent John Drake in “Danger man”) was very short (17 episodes only), maybe due to its extreme originality which made it rather incomprehensible for viewers.

Also more difficult to understand was the final episode, which changed totally the point of view of the story, which became psychanalitic and existential.
Anyway, the serie has become a real cult, with hundreds of fans with their club (and McGoohan is the honorary president) and the original village of Penryhndeudraeth in Wales (originally built as a holiday place) used for location is always visited by tourists.

17 episodi, colour, 60'

1) Arrival
2) The chimes of Big Ben


3) A, B, and C
4) Free for all
5) The schizoid man
6) The General
7) Many happy returns
8) Dance of the dead
9) Do not forsake me o my darling
10) It’s your funeral
11) Checkmate
12) Living in Harmony
13) A change of mind
14) Hammer into anvil
15) The girl who was death
16) Once upon a time
17) Fall out


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