Saturday, 29 January 2011

Hello folks, if you are a fan of the Prisoner you'll know that it is such a powerful story, that it remains with you all your life, well it has with me. It's been a life-time obsession so far, and looks set to be for a good many years to come.     I am also something of a trend setter. For years I've gone about the Town wearing my Prisoner piped blazer, and for the past couple of years, piped jackets have been all the style. So did you know that there is every possibilty that the piped blazer worn by Patrikc McGoohan, is in fact his old school blazer? Well not the same one obviously, but certainly when the boy McGoohan was Captain of the school boxing team he would have worn a piped blazer. Also when at school, at Ratcliffe College in Leicestershire, England, each pupil was given a number, and was known more by that number than the pupils own name! No, I don't know what McGoohan's number was while he was at Ratcliffe College, but I'd put money on it not being Six!
    Last Thursday saw the monthly meeting of the LPG {Local Prisoner Group} at the Hope & Anchor public house, and as usual it was a one hundred percent turn out, myself and Tommy Moke. It was a very convivial evening. We shared a few pints of ale, packets of crips and nuts, and talked of all things Prisoner. We are both looking forward to the new biography about Patrick McGoohan which comes out on March 30th. Perhaps we'll learn more about McGoohan's life than simply about his films and television work, which is what most people write about McGoohan, because while he was alive Patrick McGoohan was the most 'private man.' And of course we discussed the forthcoming Prisoner Convention in April at Portmeirion, where this years special guest is The Girl Who Was Death - Justine Lord. She gave up acting a few years after the Prisoner, and went on to be a school teacher, so Justine Lord dropped off the radar for many years.
    Tommy Moke and myself are going to arrange a Prisoner weekend. We'll be holding a marathon screening of the Prisoner, all seventeen epsiodes, to be followed by the 2009 series of THEPRISONER, with a documentary or two thrown in for good measure.
    This weekend, I'm going to be sorting through my collection of Prisoner badges, stickers, magazines, and all manner of assorted material, some of which is in desperate need of re-cataloguing. All this while playing Prisoner records and cd's. There's my file of Local Prisoner Group magazines for a start, some of which originated from the United States of America from 1979 and the early 80's, many of which I've not read in years.
I'm Johnny Prisoner a thoroughly dedicated fan.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Local Prisoner Group

    A week this coming Thursday will be the first meeting of the {LPG} that's the Prisoner Local Group, at the Hope and Anchor public house. And there'll be plenty to talk about, starting with the Robert Booth biography about the late Patrick McGoohan who died two years ago on the 13th of this month. Two years, is it really as long as that? Anyway I wonder how McGoohan would have taken to this new biography, I suppose the proof of the book will be in the reading, to borrow one particular phrase.
   Roger Langley of Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society, once wrote a so termed biography on Patrick McGoohan, but sadly it read more of an extended filmography than an actual biography, and I'd already got one of those. It will, however, be interesting to read if Robert Booth has got into the soul of the man McGoohan, to see what made him so puritanical, refusing to even kiss a woman on screen for any part he played? What made him so controlling over his work on the Prisoner? I wonder just how much of the man McGoohan Robert Booth has been able to explore? Because I know someone who has been able to carry out research into the young life of McGoohan, and has made discovories which are..........oi, what's the bleeding game? You can't do this......I wasn't doing anything...................and even if I was doing something it's got nothing to do with you ..............Here stop that!
    {I'm sorry readers, but J.P. was about to give the game away, and I'm not ready for such informatuion to be broadcast just yet}
      You can't do this to me, I'm not an imate you know - I'm not a citizen of the village! Now where was I?Talking about books I believe...... yes, I've read some books in my time, on the subject of the Prisoner of course. There have been one or two excellent ones written on the matter of the Prisoner, some indifferent ones, and some that make you wonder if the author or authors had in fact reseached the subject in the first place. The most recent book to be written on the subject of the Prisoner is damned awful.
There it sits on my bookself, two thirds unread, and I think it will remain in that state for some considerable time, if not for all time. The text is printed much too small. There are rudimentory mistakes made about the Prisoner series, and that can be said for the majority of books written about the Prisoner. But what makes this book so bad, is the fact that Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore do not appear to know, or have researched the subject at all! And as for Tim Palgut's book....

A good idea, but in my book, The Village files didn't go far enough! The most two enjoyable novels based on the Prisoner I have read, must be The Prisoner; Who Is Number Two by David McDainel, and Roger Langley's When In Rome. But for complete diversity, and a real enthusiastic read, that has to go to The Prisoner Variations by David A. Stimpson. sadly this book has been out of print these past years, but secondhand copies sell in the region of £35 a copy! I know that Dave's been working on other Prisoner based manuscripts, but thus far has not been able to find a publisher for them. I hope he does soon, as I and fans like me, are waiting eagerly for The Butler Speaks, the most in-depth manuscript to be written on the subject of the Prisoner to date. I know for a fact that Dave took four and a half years to research both the 
Prisoner and all related material. It's his magnus opus, or so he tells me.
I'm Johnny Prisoner

Saturday, 22 January 2011

THEPRISONER - Reinterpreted

   Piet Hein once wrote that the resignation sequence to THEPRISONER is a reinterpretation of the original, and he was right, as the accompanying pictures will demonstrate.
    We also know why Michael resigned, because he had found out what Summakor, the company for which he worked as an observer, was doing. That he was watching people, writing reports on them, reports which he then sent up to the next floor of the Summakor building. So we know more about the Prisoner then we ever did at this same stage with his predecassor.
    Six wants to physically escape the village, and he does so by attempting to cross the desert. I'm not sure how Six was expecting to be succesful in this endeavour, because he did so without either food or water, especially water, and without knowing where he was escaping to, because he couldn't know where he was escaping from! But I guess Six felt that anywhere was better than the Village.
    So why aren't other poeple interested in escaping the Village, is it so idyllic that people just want to stay of their own free will? Well there are those citizens who are called Dreamers, those people who have a memory, or dream of another place, possibly of another life, beyond the Village. So why don't Dreamers escape the village, or have they? Well escape from the Village does seem quite impossible, as there's nothing but desert in all directions, and for what seems hundreds and hundreds of miles. And even if one did attempt it, in which direction should one set out? Two says that there is no escape, because there is nowhere to escape to. But there is escape, for those who are prepared to take the 'leap of faith.' In the original series of the Prisoner it was said that "Death is an escape." That the Rook once said that one day he would die and beat them all. Well this has been reinterpreted, because through death one can escape the Village and return to ones former life. So did 93, who died a Village death somewhere out there in the desert, return to his former life in London, or that of the Village? Well 93 is supposed to be the previous No.6, wearing an old style Village blazer.
   But only certain people can escape through suffering a Village death, those who were brought to the village. Those like 11-12 who are born of the village, cannot escape, because they have no life outside the Village. If those born to the Village die, they are simply faced with oblivion, they simply cease to exist.
   The main questions posed by THEPRISONER are answered within the series, and even if there are a few unanswered questions, one can easily figure the answers out for onself. But this has not stopped me from enjoying THEPRISONER, for there is still much to be noticed with the series........such as how many different ties Two wears, not only throughout the series, but in each of the six episodes. Certainly enough to make a small collection of within my collection of PRISONER merchandise and memorabilia, which already includes a number of die-cast vehicles from the series.
I'm Johhny Prisoner

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Prisoner

       I've not quite been a fan of the Prisoner all my life yet, but at far as the Prisoner series goes, I'm like No.2, definately a 'lifer.' And even more so now that there's the 2009 production of THEPRISONER. But for the moment I'll only concern myself with the original 1960's series.
   I suppose my favourite No.2 would have to be Leo McKern, followed by Colin Gordon, who I really felt sorry for. Well his failure in A B & C was not all his to bear, but would have to because he was the boss at the time. Okay, I know No.1's the boss, be we won't get into No.1 just yet, if at all. A favourite episode would have to be Arrival, with Checkmate a close second because of all the film footage of Portmeirion it contains.
    Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling is my least favourite episode, because there are far too many holes in the plot. There's absolutely no need to have Professor Seltzman brought ot the village, because there's no need for any such 'reversal process.' I mean to say, all you have to do to reverse the original effects of the Seltzman machine, having first swopped the minds of two people, is to put those same two people through the exact same process they went through originally. And in any case, if they don't know where Seltzman is, how did they get their hands on a Seltzman machine in the first place?
    I have often been asked how it was that I got into the Prisoner in the first place? Well as a boy I was a fan of Danger Man, and John Drake was my boyhood hero. And so I merely saw the Prisoner as a continuation or sequal to Danger Man. That John Drake had resigned, as Patrick McGoohan had had enough of playing John Drake. But then where do you put recalcitrant agents who cannot be left around, not with all that knowledge inside their heads? You put them in The Village of course. And that's what I believe they did to John Drake.
    For me the Prisoner has been a life-time passion, an obsession which I have been unable to let go of. From that first crack of thunder of the opening sequence in Arrival Patrick McGoohan made a Prisoner of me, and many like me. Yes I do wear my piped blazer when I go out and about, well they have become very fashionable in the past couple of years, and that made it easy for me. But I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Because once upon a time, when I wore my piped blazer out and about in the Town I would stand out. But now, others are wearing trendy piped jackets, and so now I sort of, blend into the background once more. I know, perhaps I should wear my colourful striped Village cape. I can guarantee that no-one else in Town will own one of them, with my mate Tommy Moke as the one excpetion, then I will once again stand out from the crowd, a true individual, showing his individual tendencies. What's more, everyone will be looking at me!
I'm Johnny Prisoner

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Prisoner Local Groups

    Hello readers. Years ago, in the hay-day of Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society, there used to be what was termed 'Local Groups.' Members of that society who gathered together in order to make a local group within the society, and there used to be many of them all over Great Britain. From Glasgow to London. From Liverpool to Leicester, Newcastle, and Portsmouth, nationwide in fact. But now less than a handful of local groups remain. In fact I believe there are only possibly three. One in London, one possibly in Birmingham, and my Local Prisoner Group, which has but two members, myself and Tommy Moke. We used to meet in the Goat & Compasses. But now we had have had a change of venue and thanks to Tommy we now meet in the Hope & Anchor public house. Also we used to meet on the last Tuesday of the month. Now we meet on the last Thursday of the month.
    So what is it we do at these mettings? Well we discuss and debate all things about the Prisoner, and by that I mean both series, and of course we talk of Portmeirion. We do this by gathering information, such as the fact that a limited edition of Caterham's Super Seven, once owned by Director and co-Producer of the Prisoner David Tomblin is up for sale in Belgium. The cars limited edition number is 41of 47 produced, and all the past documents accompany the car. Also that Robin Llwelyn - Managing Director of Portmeirion had a fall whilst walking on Christmas eve. He was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull, and is now recovering.
   At the next meeting Tommy Moke and I will be discussing the possibility of attending the spring Memorabilia event at the NEC at Birmingham on March 26th and 27th, where Prisoner actors Derren Nesbitt, Mark Eden, and Robert Rietty will be appearing. And Tommy emailed me the other day saying that he's been to Portmeirion in December and has many photographs to show me of Portmeirion in the snow. I wonder why he didn't attach them to the email. Oh well, roll on a week on Thursday.
I'm Johnny Prisoner

Saturday, 15 January 2011

It Is, As It Is, As It Should be!

   As you know, well perhaps you don't, but I've been a fan of the Prisoner since 1967, and was a fan of Danger Man before that, with John Drake my childhood hero.
   I have made a study of the Prisoner, like so many of my contemporaries, and have written a large number of letters and articles on the subject. And so it was that I looked forward with ever increasing anticipation for the day to dawn when I would sit and watch the AMCtv and ITV production of THEPRISONER. I had been waiting ever since word was released about the making of this production, and would visit AMCtv's website on a daily basis to gain all and any information about the production. But I, like my fellow fans, had to wait until April of last year to see THEPRISONER. I took to the series like a duck takes to water, but had to concentrate because there was an awful lot going on in the 6 episodes of the series, and at times it was difficult to keep up. But a second screening soon helped sort that slight difficulty out.
   The thing with the original series of the Prisoner is, that it's full in the face, the new series, or should I say reinterpretation and reinvention, for that is what it is, is far more subtle in so many ways than that of it's predecessor. What's more all the questions are answered, the viewer is left in not doubt about what the series is all about. But that is not to say that there are no loose ends still to be tied up. I mean, what of the next village to be created by 313 and Six? Will Six find a better way to make a better village, and who will be his successor?
   How could I take so easily to, and accept a new series of THEPRISONER. Because I was prepared for a series such as this. It didn't matter to me that it was not a direct remake, after all what would be the point of that? But many of my contemporaries did half expect a direct remake of the original series! It never mattered to me that No.6 would be played by a different actor, Patrick McGoohan was too old any way, unless he was to portray No.6 as an old man, 93 perhaps! But of course Patrick McGoohan refused that particular cameo role, because he wanted to play the role of Two {or so it was claimed}. Or was too ill at the time to take up the offer of a cameo role, whichever story you accept. But of course Patrick McGoohan was too ill at the time to accept any such role in THEPRISONER I should have thought. 93 was of course played by actor John Whitley, and to say that there is a resemblance between his 93 and that of the former No.6 is to say, well there is a resemblance betwen the two. Nor did it matter to me, like it did to many fans of the original series, that the THEPRISONER was not filmed in Portmeiron. Portmeirion would have been too small anyway. The right size for a village yes, but not for THEPRISONER.
    It has been said of me, that I live and breath the Prisoner.........."Breath in, breath out. More........village!" As Two once put it. And yes I guess they are right. I'm an obsessive, and perhaps one day I'll be taken to the village by Two to be made better.
   As for many of my contemporaries, well they have failed to see the value in THEPRISONER. Failed to watch more then half-an-hour of the first episode and condemned the whole series by judging it by the half-hour watched. One fellow told me that he actually switched off after a mere ten minutes! Well people like them have missed out, and will, if they never give the series a second chance, never know what THEPRISONER is all about. As for me, I love the new series, and will be screening it all again soon
I'm Johnny Prisoner a dedicated fan and an enthusiast of all thing PRISONER.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Being Unconventional!

   Hello folks, happy New Year to you. I might have mentioned last time how that I'm attending this years Prisoner convention held at Portmeirion in north Wales. Well I've decided that I'm gong to arrive in the style of No.6. Yes, I'll be wearing my piped blazer, but I'll also be sealed up in a crate which will be addressed to The Prisoner Convention, Hercules Hall, Portmeirion, Gywnedd, North Wales, and hopefully that should do the trick. Well this is how No.6 and Nadia arrived back in an office in London during The Chimes of Big Ben, and how I will arrive at the convention. Imagine the look of surprise on people's faces as the crate is opened and I suddenly burst out! What a brilliant plan.
    It was this time last year, that I was impatiently waiting for the new series of THEPRISONER to appear on television screens here in the United Kingdom. I had seen the adverts on ITV, but is was not until April 2010 before the series hit the television screen. I took to it like a duck to water, because it was something of what I had been half expecting, unlike many of my contemporaries who took an instant dislike to THEPRISONER. I don't know why, because the two series are not so very far removed from each other. I know the views of an old friend who switched off after only watching half an hour of the first episode Arrival and condemned the whole series. Now he'll never know what it was all about, sad really. I thought that he of all people would have given the new serie a fair crack of the whip....oh well.
    I have to say that with the Prisoner my sympathies lay with No.6, but in this case, I'm more inclined to sympathise with Two, perhaps because Ian Mckellen's character Two is stronger than that of Jim Caviezel's Six. Six is more subtle than his predecessor, as indeed is the whole series of THEPRISONER, not so full in your face as the original, and that I find more intriguing. As for Two, he's got a bent and twisted mind.......I bet he was put on the potty side-ways, and that made him want to sleep with his mother, which he probably did.
   In the new series there's no escape from the village, well its surrounded by desert for miles and miles in all directions. Whilst in the original series it was suggested that death was an escape. That the Rook once said that he'd die one day and beat them all. Well that idea is carried on and developed in THEPRISONER, by suffering a 'village death' one escapes the village to return to that 'other place' from which you came, in a previous life. So if 93, who I believe is the former No.6 of the original series, but not played by Patrick McGoohan, but John Whitely, died a 'village death,' to what 'other place,' what former life would he have been returned to? I mean there was evidence that he came from London, hence the sketch he drew of St. Stephen's Tower, which houses the bell Big Ben. But 93 was wearing an old style piped blazer as worn in the original series. So, having died a 'village death' out there in the desert in Arrival, did 93 return to his former life in London, or that of a prisoner in the village?.................I wonder if the scriptwriter Bill Gallagher could enlighten me on that score?
I'm Johnny Prisoner