Sunday, January 18, 2009

Death of The Prisoner

There were some great British made TV series in the sixties - The Avengers, Callan and Man in a Suitcase spring to mind, but there were quite a few others as well. None could compare in terms of style with The Prisoner - written, directed and starring Patrick McGoohan, who died the other day. McGoohan's character started as John Drake in the gripping spy series Danger Man. But when he (apparently) gave up spying and landed up in Portmeirion as a Prisoner he awoke as plain Number Six. His weekly attempts to find out why he was there and where he was, his battles of will with Number Two, his futile attempts to escape from the dreaded big rubber balls and his efforts to discover just who was Number One made compulsive viewing. Although restricted in its setting and always frustrating, in that he never really found out anything and certainly didn't escape, it nevertheless held the attention in every episode. It was clever, quirky and very sixties - the All You Need is Love episode giving a new twist to the Beatles classic.
There's a fascinating link between McGoohan's death and that of John Mortimer, who died yesterday. Runpole was immortalised in the seventies TV series by Leo McKern, who also played Number Two in most episodes of The Prisoner.
Another death announced today is that of Tony Hart. I was already a teenager when Vision On started, but it was another TV series that seemed to sum up the sixties. It was initially aimed at deaf kids, but crossed over to a much wider audience. On the music front it's been a mercifully quiet few weeks on the death front, but I suppose I should mention Ricardo Montalban, whose Fantasy Island and appearances in Star Trek movies made him a household name.


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