The Prisoner FAQ

I've made some minor additions & corrections to this version of the FAQ (most recently 9-Jan-1996):
From barrett@aminet.uucp Sun May 17 00:01:41 1992 
Subject: BI-MONTHLY POSTING: The Prisoner FAQ 
Date: 15 May 92 04:01:02 GMT 
[last updated 3/3/92]
[Note: Although great attempts have been made to keep this information up to date and to verify its accuracy, I do not assume responsibility for its validity. Information concerning source materials, addresses, and prices are subject to you own risk. - kgb]

We want information!
Well, since "Questions are a burden to others and answers a prison to oneself", this posting will hopefully reduce the questions.

Danger Man and Secret Agent
Danger Man was the name of the first secret agent series about the character John Drake, a man who believed in using his head rather than using a gun or getting involved with women to resolve situations (contrary to the typical James Bond types). The shows were 25 mins B/W.

When American distribution was desired, the series was filmed as 60 minute Secret Agent b/w and colour episodes (although they were never released in colour). The main plots were how this agent dealt with the moral conflicts of his job.

Note: the mixed up "puzzle" letters that appear in the closing credits of may episodes of Secret Agent really spell Danger Man, as is clear in the original UK showing as Danger Man. Two of the colour filmings were edited together to produce a 90 minute TV movie called Koroshi.

PM conceived the concept for The Prisoner while filming an episode of Danger Man in Portmeirion (the village) (the story was set in Spain). There is also a Danger Man episode called Colony 3 about a village of agents training to become imposters that was used as part of the idea for The Prisoner (this is the show where he hides a camera in a typewriter). Many of the actors in DM/SA also appear in TP.

Opening Lyrics - Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers
(Written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri)
There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets, he stays a stranger
With every move he makes, another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow.
Secret Agent Man, Secret Agent Man
They've given you a number and taken away your name.

His Job Resignation
McGoohan has made it plain in several interviews and books that The Prisoner is not a sequel to Danger Man. Although there are those that believe #6 is called "Drake" in Once Upon a Time - according to the script, the line reads "... in the morning break". There is much evidence indicating however that #6's previous job was as a government agent. It's known that #6 held "one of the most top-secret positions" within Britain, and that this involved "field work". In Schzoid Man, one of the advantages that Curtis has to help him impersonate #6 are his abilities as a top agent and a field man. Fall Out reveals that he is given "a top secret confidential job" and it involved state secrets. It is also a fact in real life that most agents are mathematical or accounting specialists, and #6 does admit that he's "good with figures". If you include the 4 part comic book sequel (OK, OK, Graphic Novels), The main character's name is Alice Drake and it is implied that she is a relative of #6's. But remember, mis-direction is always a possibility.

Some of the early paperback books have taken liberty and actually called him John Drake, but these books are so filled with even the most basic errors concerning the series and the village that most fans discount them.

Number Six has given his reasons for his job resignation several times, it's just that the village either doesn't believe him or believe there is more to it; so in some respects #6 has no choice but to resist his captors because even if they got what they wanted it might not help. In Arrival it's mentioned that his reasons "were a matter of principle". In Chimes Of Big Ben, he states that "it was a matter of conscience", and he also begins to say "I resigned, because for a very long time now I...". In Once Upon A Time, he states that his reasons were for "Peace of mind because too many people knew too much; I know too much", and that he eventually rejected these moral contradictions. Also, in A B & C, he states he didn't resign to sell out. A B & C also reveals that he was going on an immediate holiday after his resignation - just what someone resolving an internal conflict would need to do.

It's more in line to say that the Village has taken the position that they wish to break him and that getting him to reveal the details behind his resignation is the first step. It has been made clear that the people don't wish to cause any permanent damage because they believe that if they can win him over, he "has a valuable future with us".

Who Runs The Village?
You are never given a direct answer to this question, but there is a large amount of evidence pointing to "his own side", or to "both sides". Certainly his own people are in on it. Many people from #6's past (some having indications of authority) appear and work for the village. This happens in Arrival, Chimes Of Big Ben, and Do Not Forsake Me.... Even after #6 is found (Many Happy Returns) and reveals the presence of the village; you can bet that if his previous position was as an agent, his side would seek out such a place after he vanishes the second time. Even if he was believed dead, they'd still search for it (especially if there was a possibility other agents could be there). It would also not be an easy manner for Mrs. Butterworth to occupy his home unless she could pass the security investigation that would probably take place. Also, in Do Not Forsake Me... it is revealed that it's been a year since his capture; yet his home is still maintained for him to wake up in.

Where Is The Village?
In real life, it's a seashore resort called Portmeirion in North Wales, and built by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. It is located in the town of Penryhndeudraeth. Look for Cardigan Bay on the western shore; at the north end is Tremadoc Bay; look along its north-central shore and find the town of Porthmadog; go east, and at the northeastern corner of Tremadoc Bay, there is an inlet pointing slightly north of east. Portmeirion is on the north shore of that inlet.

The Portmeirion Hotel
LL48 6ET
United Kingdom
Phone: 01766 770228
Fax: 01766 771331
Telex: 61540 PORTM G

In the show, ignoring the information stated in Chimes Of Big Ben (the girl was working for the village, so her statements are untrustworthy), Many Happy Returns and Fall Out reveal the most about it. In Many Happy Returns, it's narrowed down to an area that #6 begins searching and eventually finds (a fact that doesn't help him any). Fall Out reveals you can get there via road, so not an island. A route number appears in Fall Out also. The Sea indicates it's on a coastline.

The closest font to the one used in The Prisoner is a modified Albertus (dots removed from "i" and "j", loop of "e" opened). Albertus is available from Monotype in Postscript Type 1 format, in their Headliners 6 type set. Call (in the US) 1-800-MONOTYPE. Albertus also available from Image Club Graphics, Inc. (see Personal Publishing magazine). Costs $75 for 3 styles: normal, bold, and black. Postscript format. Suite 5, 1902 11th Street SE, Calgary AB Canada T2G 3G2; 403/262-8008.

The car used in the show was a Lotus Seven series II, which was available as a kit or assembled (hence why #6 claimed he built it). In the U.K., a license plate number stays with the car for life. The real KAR120C Lotus (which was the demo model series II) was used and eventually sold to an Australian. When Fall Out was filmed, a quick mock up from a series III was used.

Lotus, desiring to termininate production of the car after their failed attempt at marketing a series IV, sold all existing kits, molds, and manufacturing rights to Caterham Cars (their biggest dealer at the time). Caterham went back to the series III, made some internal structural improvements, and re-named the car the "Super Seven". The car is still available and can be purchased as a kit for import into the U.S. (I owned one myself). There are 2 reputable places in the U.S. which will provide you with an assembled vehicle that you can register in most states as a composite or kit car.

The west coast: Dave Bean Engineering, Inc., 636 E.St.Charles Street, Star Route 2, San Andreas, CA 95249-9564, (209) 754-5802, Fax:(209) 754-5177

On the east coast: Sevens and Elans, Mr. Chris Tchornicki, 248 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, (617) 497-7777

[I have the address for Caterham, but haven't had time to post it yet] Caterham may also provide you with other locations. It is important that if you do wish to pursue getting one, that you avoid many places that attempt to sell imitations (all inferior) and seek one of the sources mentioned above.

The cost is around $20,000. Delivery is about 6 months. The car looks very much the same as it does in the show, but now comes with a 5-speed. The car is very very fast (0-50mph in 4 to 4.5 secs), and can be painted any colour you want.

Funny point is that the car did have a problem history of over-heating in traffic, the same one mentioned to #6 by the woman in Many Happy Returns.

What About The Penny Farthing?
In interviews, Patrick McGoohan states it's a symbol of progress. In the alternative version of The Chimes of Big Ben, a wheel on the bicycle become the planet earth and eventually you see the word "POP". There is also a story that the penny farthing symbol was already in some sort of use at Portmeirion, and PM adopted it for use in the show.

Filler Episodes
PM was asked to create 5 "fill in" episodes for U.S. release. These are the ones with almost no (or re-used) shots of the village. Living in Harmony, The Girl Who Was Death, Do Not Forsake Me... are some of these. These episodes can be removed from the series without major impact to the overall story.

Episode Order
The order of the episodes according to script and production dates differs that the order originally aired in the U.K. and U.S. Part of this is due to the changes made to The Chimes Of Big Ben before airtime (hence why the lost episode exists). The main argument concerning the order is where Chimes belongs in the series.

There are many indications of shows being in a specific order. Once Upon a Time and Fall Out are obviously the last two. Arrival is obviously the first. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling has flashbacks to Free for All and Dance of the Dead. Dance of the Dead mentions that #6 is "new here". Many Happy Returns states #6 has been a prisoner for months, and Do Not Forsake Me... states it's been a year. The General is a later episode than A B & C due to the second appearance of the same #2 mentioning that "He and #6 are old friends". There are those that believe the Tally Ho article ("Is #2 fit for further term") and #2's opening speech ("I am #2") indicate that A B & C and The General should be in reverse order, but remember that #2 was in a fragile position with his leaders during A B & C and it's suggested that any failure would be the end of him, so these could just be signs of his current situation. The most widely listed episode order is the order the episodes were originally broadcast in the U.S., and is typically published in magazines (such as Starlog). This is also the official episode order according to ITC:

  1. Arrival
  2. The Chimes of Big Ben
  3. A B & C
  4. Free For All
  5. Schizoid Man
  6. The General
  7. Many Happy Returns
  8. Dance of the Dead
  9. Do Not Forsake Me Oh 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
Note: Living in Harmony was originally omitted from the first showing of the series in the U.S. Some opinions differ as to why this happened, but the most official word is that they were pulled due to the Vietnam era, and the issues concerning drugs and draft dodging.

Uniforms And Numbers
There are signs that a person's number is an indication of status within the village. That being the case, then the number 6 would indicate that he is considered valuable. There are also indications that numbers are recycled, In Chimes Of Big Ben, the new arrival is referred to as "the new #8" (with the old #8 being dead). Using an available number rather than having a unique number is certainly more in line with the village's practice of not identifying people as individuals. If you believe that #48 in Fall Out is the same lad in Living In Harmony (who has a lower number), then his number was changed after his experiment was a failure. Certainly the #2 has been recycled numerous times. There are also a few oddities. Roland Walter Dutton in Dance Of The Dead doesn't seem to have a number (perhaps suggesting that you only get one if there is an intention you are going to live there), Alison in Schzoid Man is referred to by name, the two newspaper reporters in Free For All identify themselves as #113 and #113B. In Checkmate, one individual is only identified throughout the show as rook; and you never learn if the butler has a number. Finally in Fall Out, a large number of people are identified by a belief or occupation rather than names or numbers, but it is implied that they do also have numbers.

Ignoring the few exceptions; there seem to be 2 popular types of uniforms among the "citizens" of the village. The turtleneck shirt and jacket with coloured piping, and a striped shirt with a sailor's hat (sometimes worn with a multi-colour striped cape). There seem to be colour variations of both types, as there are also black pennyfarthing badges and white ones. You're never told whether this has any significance or not (it may just be for contrast with the black or white jacket). In a few shows (especially in The General), you also see some sort of uniform composed of a top hat, black shades, and tails. It can be deduced that this indicates some sort of official position in the village (board member perhaps), and that anyone serving these roles wears these outfits during official events. The guards also wear a single colour jumpsuit with shades, white sneakers, white club, and a white helmet. Other items seen are multi-colour umbrellas, loafers, bland slacks, pullovers, and sunglasses with narrow slits or b/w checkers. There were also the maid uniforms, the butler's clothes, the Doctor coats, and in Fall Out we see white hooded coats with b/w masks, and the judge's outfit.

Other Patrick McGoohan Credits
TV movies
TV Series

Prisoner Books
The Prisoner Alain Carraze and Helene Oswald, Virgin Books, 1989
Contains many great colour and B&W stills from the series, including behind-the-scenes shots.

The Prisoner and Danger Man, Dave Rogers, Boxtree Books, 1989
Contains episode synopses from both series.

The Official Prisoner Matthew White and Jaffer Ali Companion Warner Books, 1988
Contains many errors

The Prisoner Thomas M. Disch (N.Y. Ace Publishing, 1969)

Who Is Number Two? David McDaniel (N.Y. Ace Books, 1969)

A Day In The Life Hank Stine (N.Y. Ace Publishing, 1970)

The Prisoner Four part comic book, sequel to the tv series (Comic Book series) by Dean Mottter, published by DC Comics 1988-1989
Highly recommended reading They may also be found as a single volume called Shattered Visage

The Prisoner Puzzle A detailed Canadian educational text from the 70s, which included interviews with Patrick McGoohan. Considered a valued resource; believed to be unavailable now.

Prisoner Items
The Mini-Moke toy (the taxi seen in the series) was available during the time of original broadcast, and is now considered a serious collectors' item. The 6-of-1 organization has obtained at least one of the two real vehicles that were used in the series. Also available at that time were prisoner watches (watches with the penny farthing symbol on the face). Both of these are no longer available.

Cars sells a metal miniature model of the Super Seven for about $40 (It's about 3 inches long). A Japanese firm sells a plastic version for slightly less:

Model Kits:

Photos, badges, maps, postcards, and the CD soundtracks are available through 6-of-1, or through the shop located at the hotel Portmeirion. The official source for the CDs is suppose to be through 6-of-1, but apparently you can obtain them from the publisher and other sources: It is an import, marketed by Silva Screen Records Ltd, Silva House, 261 Royal College Street, London NW1 9LU, UK. Video Tapes can be ordered from FUSION VIDEO, 17214 S. Oak Park Ave, Tinley Park, IL, 60477-9917. All episodes are available; approximately $20 each. The Prisoner Companions, Lost Episode, and Best of are also available .

Some items the U.S. viewers see as novel collectables (such as the telephones) are (or were) fairly common items in the U.K. and were not specific to The Prisoner.

There was an adventure game out during the 70s, available for the Atari and Apple computers, called The Prisoner. It was made by Edu-Ware. In the world of role playing games there is a GURPS The Prisoner sourcebook. GURPS is made by Steve Jackson Games

Fan Clubs
There is only one officially recognized fan club for The Prisoner. It's full name is:
Six of One (or 6-of-1) The Prisoner Appreciation Society.
There are chapters in the U.K. and in the U.S.
For a year's subscription, it will provide 4 packages of documents and the paper Number Six. Six Of One also organises the Portmeirion Convention each year in September, although has been talk that this may be discontinued due to the sometimes harsh relationship with Portmeirion). For more information:

There were several attempts by individual fans, especially in the late 70s, to promote personal newsletters as official fan clubs. These went under such names as The Green Dome and The Prisoner Newsletter. None were officially recognized by ITC, in most cases they just re-published information provided by Six of One, and many were told by ITC or Six-of-One to cease copyright violations.

MENSA, the High-IQ organization, had (and may still have) a Prisoner SIG.

Miscellaneous Facts
Although he intentionally used it to his advantage, part of the reason a #1 appears on the home of The Prisoner is because the real apartment door used for the filming is apt #1 in Buckingham Place, London.

Currently, Patrick McGoohan lives in the north-western U.S.

Leo McKern had a breakdown during the filming of Once Upon A Time because of the intensity of the episode. Fall Out was filmed and aired months after Once Upon A Time. This is why during the "resurrection" scene of #2 his beard is shaved off, and why Leo had shorter hair.

Isn't it interesting that both PM and LM made films with Gene Wilder?

Using a weather balloon for rover was a last-minute decision. There was suppose to be a robot-like electronic device, but it failed to work properly during filming. The decision was made at the last minute to use something else on the set, so a large number of weather balloons were obtained.

The public was so outraged by the content of the last episode that PM had to go into hiding for a short while to avoid being badgered by the press. Most people were disappointed about the end (many wanted #1 to end up being the Butler).

The Man behind the desk during the resignation sceen is George Markstein

In real life, the village (Portmeirion, Wales) is very small and seems larger in the show because of film editing. Those that have visited the place get a kick out of seeing #6 take routes that don't really lead to the shown destinations.

McGoohan also wrote/directed episodes under the name Paddy Fitz, and directed some under the name of Joseph Serf.

Ron Grainer, who did most of the supporting music for the show, also did the theme for Dr. Who and other U.K. TV shows.

The garage that PM drives his Lotus into where he passes underneath the gate before it lifts is in London.

YES YES! That is #6's face behind the mask in Fall Out! PM even states so in The Prisoner Puzzle, a Canadian publication of the 70s. The ape mask was an intentional reference to evolution.

Outstanding Items
Many people are looking for copies of the Albertus font, sound samples, GIF files, star movie credits, etc. You are encouraged to post such items (UUSHAR or UUENCODE format preferred) often. I personally want good GIFs AND sound samples (MAC or Amiga format). Anything I obtain I may list in future FAQs and/or make available via email somehow.

FAQs Looking For Official Answers
Can you buy copies of the scripts?
   | | 
   _o_ _| ___=___ |_ _o_ 
   /`-'\( ) ( )/`-'\ 
   | |-| ___@___ |-| | 
   | | | (-+-+-+-) | | | 
   | |--\_KAR120C_/--| | 
   `---' `---' 
(Thanks to Flemming Larsen for the picture. Perhaps somone can pull off a 
good penny farthing? - that wheel's pretty tough) 
For corrections or additions: 
Keith G. Barrett 
The NEW number six ;-) 

Danger Man
Ian's TV etc. page