The Prisoner – tape 1342

Over to Channel 4 for repeats of The Prisoner. It has one of the greatest titles sequences ever, with a brilliant, jazzy Ron Grainer theme tune, and Patrick MacGoohan striding purposefully to resign from the never identified service. It’s one of those great sequences that sets out the premise of the show – not quite as succinctly as, say, Survivors, but who cares with such a great theme.

(I Apologise for the reframed nature of this video but the choice was limited, and I prefer a higher resolution.)

This episode is Checkmate, Peter Wyngarde guest stars as the new Number 2.

Peter Wyngarde

I’m guessing this is an early episode, as McGoohan is still asking lots of questions, as he takes place in a large game of chess. Then he’s shown one of the village’s residents being ‘conditioned’ using procedures based on Pavlov.

A woman becomes somewhat infatuated with him, and wants to help him and be with him, but obviously he doesn’t trust anyone.

Rosalie Crutchley

He devises a plan to escape, but as usual, Number 2 is ahead of him.

The next episode is Hammer into Anvil, with Patrick Cargill as the new Number Two. He’s interrogating a suicidal woman about her husband as the programme opens, and Number Six hears her screams and rushes to help, but in the ensuing scuffle she jumps from the window to her death.

Patrick Cargill

Number Two vows to break him. “You must be the Hammer or the Anvil” he says (in Goethe’s original German).

So Number Six goes shopping and listens to six copies of the Suite L’Arlesienne in the local music shop. This is the 60s so auditioning records was still a real thing that people did before buying records. Think of it like finding a song on Spotify before buying it from iTunes.

Number Six Listens to Music

He listens to a few seconds of the start of each of the records – incidentally, none of them come with inner sleeves, and when he’s finished he just puts the record down, not back in the cover. He’s certainly no audiophile.

Then he makes a note on the copy of the local newspaper, the Tally Ho, and returns the records to the man at the counter, leaving his newspaper as well.

Security

Naturally, the vigilant shop assistant informs the authorities about this strange message. But Number Two can’t understand what he was looking for.

He watches Number Six in his home, write a note on a notepad, so he sends a man to fetch the paper underneath to try to see what the note said. Thanks to a magic machine, he can read the note.

A hidden message

Which leads him to suspect that Number Six is a plant. And for the rest of the episode, Number Six is doing things to make him more and more paranoid until, at the end of the episode, he phones control to tell them that he needs to be replaced.

The next episode is It’s Your Funeral. Derren Nesbitt is the new Number Two.

Derren Nesbitt

We get a look at Number Six’s morning workout.

Wanda Ventham (of UFO fame, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s mother) plays a computer assistant.

Wanda Ventham

They play a strange game in the village – it’s obviously intended to be some sort of martial art, going by the music they score the scene with, but it’s played on trampolines.

Trampoline Fu

Number Six learns of an assassination plot against Number Two and, because he doesn’t want those in charge enacting fierce retribution against the villagers, he tries to warn him.

After this episode you’re invited to write off for information about the programme – the Six of One club, the show’s fan club, clearly had friends in high places to get such a high profile plug. I don’t recall the Doctor Who Appreciation Society getting any mentions after Doctor Who.

Send for a Factsheet

After this epsisode, recording continues with the start of a special episode of The Black Bag entitled India In Flames. Tariq Ali looks at the current state of Indian politics.

The tape ends during this programme.

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