Thursday, 15 January 2009

Patrick McGoohan, 1928 - 2009

I was quite saddened to hear Kirsty Wark announce the death of "the man in the black turtleneck" on Newsnight. Along with many others I will remember him best as Number 6 in The Prisoner.

I wasn't even born when it was first broadcast in 1967. In 1992 Channel 4 showed the series for the 25th anniversary and I was immediately hooked. Part of the appeal was watching the wonderful opening credits and listening to Ron Grainer's pounding theme music.

The stores were clearly an allegorical look at our own society. Four decades on we discover that we are living in a surveillance society after all. We passively swipe our Tesco club cards when buying our shopping. We buy the newspaper and accept the pre-packaged prejudices of the editor, getting 'outraged' on cue. (The episode of The Prisoner dealing with a village election was particularly scathing of the press. Number 6 gives an interview to a reporter and moments later is handed a newspaper with his 'comments' already written.)

It's very interesting that McGoohan went on to play authority figures such as the warden in Escape From Alcatraz or the King in Braveheart.

Recently a remake of The Prisoner has been in production with Sir Ian McKellan on Number 2 duties and one of my favourite actresses, Ruth Wilson, co-staring. it is sure to be very different but I hope the spirit of the original is still there.

Now I'm off to punch a table like Number 6 does in the opening credits...