Monday, 19 April 2010


In the history of telly there have been a few outlandish, enigmatic, inscrutable or just quirky  series which have generated, among viewers,  affection, abiding curiosity, loyalty, even a cultists' devotion - the early Avengers,  with Ian Hendry, spooky, a bit S and M;  Blake's Seven, with Servillan and Avon  displaying  a bucketful of fetishes, the Americans have had the X Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ally McBeal and of course tragic David Carradine's unforgettable, benign, warrior-monk, Kwang Chai Caine, in Kung Fu,

Surely the most enduring, timeless of these things, though, is the late  Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner,

 a seventeen episode series, starring and co-created by McGoohan. 

These seventten episodes have been shown over and over, memorised and dissected by afficianadoes since they were first shown in 1967. It may be that the tenor of the times - Peace, Man and Drugs and Sex - imbued the series with a weight it didn't really merit;  equally,  the series  may have dignified a culture which was, in many ways, rubbish, a Whiter Shade of Tosh,  the over-acclaimed, druggy doggerel of  Sgt Pepers Lonely Hearts Club Band. To a backdrop of mini-skirts and mini-mokes and God fucking help us, mini-operas, McGoohan's nameless hero, a former spook contends with, as WIKI relates;

" .... striking and often surreal storylines, and themes include hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination. A major theme of the show is individualism versus collectivism."
A kid at the time, I was just enchanted by McGoohan's terse resistance to all  the forms  of coercion  ranged against him, curious about the bizarre setting - the Italianate mock village - undersized frontages only, like a Western movie set -  of Portmerion in Wales, delighted by the vehicles, a Caterham Seven

and a minimoke

and by McGoohan's catch phrases, some carried over from his previous series, Danger Man - I'm Obliged, Be Seeing You  and some unique to The Prisoner, I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free Man. They were picked up and circulated by viewers, still are.

I never understood The Prisoner, still don't,  but I loved its extravagant  cinema-quality production values, its originalty, its refusal  to kowtow to advertisers' and schedulers' expectations. The Prisoner was to television what Highway Sixty-One Revisited was to Pop music,  in the dreadful desert of  'sixties TeeVee, The Prisoner shone and sparkled like God's own oasis.

Unrelieved even  by the presence of the now sadly ubiquitous Ian McKellen,  there is an Anglo-American so-called remake showing on ITV currently.  Miss it.


PT Barnum said...

Amen to that, Mr I. My childish understanding, when I encountered it in the 70s, construed No. 6's plight as strangely akin to how I felt about school - 1000 ways and means to gain submission through acquiescence to some monolithic but invisible authority which baffled and offended me but for which I did not have any language. That phrase, 'I am not a number...', seemed to express it perfectly.

I would fear to sully my memories and mind by watching any remake. Why do they bother, other than to make a few quid disappointing everyone?

Anonymous said...

David Carradine's unforgettable, benign, warrior-monk, Kwang Chai Caine, in Kung Fu," Found dead in a Bangkok hotel under mysterious curcumstances. Supposedly found in a wardrobe with a shoelace round his neck the other end tied to his dick. This tells me that he had a very long shoelace ot a very long dick, verdict suicide. Take note if you are going to get bumped off don't get bumped off in Thailand as it will be recorded as suicide same a the European guy a while sgo who commited suicide by jumping off a bridge but only after he had decapitated himself and put the head on a carrier bag.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, there are death photographs online, purportedly of Carradine; be careful out there, mr anonymous.

Mothers Ruin said...

Aren't we living in the village? Distrusted and constantly checked by the the big rubber ball of Westminster, and now private thugs are to be employed to bring nightmares to life.

Tens of thousands of nightclub bouncers and private security guards could be given sweeping police-style powers.

Senior police officers have ordered a dramatic expansion of a controversial scheme that allows authorised civilians to issue fines for littering and other minor offences.

They may also stop members of the public in the street, take their photograph and ask for their name and address.

Critics have called for a halt to the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, saystablesing it amounts to 'state-sanctioned vigilantism'.

There are already 1,667 people, including town hall workers and car park attendants, as well as bouncers and security guards, with powers under the scheme.

Nicknamed 'Jacqui Smith's Irregulars' after the former Home Secretary, their numbers have rocketed by a fifth in only a year.

But new guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, or Acpo, instructs Chief Conto target the country's 100,000 guards and 50,000 door supervisors as it seeks to expand the scheme.

The move is particularly controversial because Acpo is directly involved in approving private firms which want to join the CSAS.

Security companies pay between £450 and £600 for an assessment by a private company owned by Acpo, and between £32 and £132 for each accredited employee.

Councils and other public sector organisations pay between £300 and £315 to be accredited, and £35 to £90 per employee.

The guidance document says: 'Forces should make plans fully to exploit the opportunities presented by the regulatory regime for closer working relationships with the private security industry, with CSAS as an appropriate vehicle for doing so.

'Numerically, the security industry presents the most significant opportunities for closer working relations.'
Enlarge they'll have to pay.jpg

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'It seems there are profitable reasons behind the recent explosion in bouncers being given police-like powers.

'Instead of relying on club doormen to fight crime and anti-social behaviour, we should be putting 3,000 more police out on the beat.'

Tory home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling called for an immediate end to the scheme.

'People expect policing powers to be held by police, and not by other groups like nightclub bouncers,' he said.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies, speaking for Acpo, defended the scheme.

He said: 'Accredited persons play a part in building safe and secure neighbourhoods.

'However, their role must remain distinct from that of police officers whose task is to uphold and enforce the law, tackling all forms of harm to the public and communities.'

Daily Mail

yardarm said...

Re yr post, Mrs Mother`s Ruin.

The thought of these cowboys running riot chills the blood. It looks like the daft bastards at ACPO haven`t realised they`ve priced themselves out of a job and will be outsourced to a miscellany of pricks.

Anonymous said...

Next time your dahn sarf why not pop into Port Merion Clough Ellis folly but go weekdays too expensive at the weekend

call me ishmael said...

'Twas in another lifetime but I have been there, thanks.