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The Prisoner

The Prisoner

Overview
The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series
Dramatic programming
Dramatic programming in the UK, or television drama and television drama series in the US, is television program content that is scripted and fictional along the lines of √a traditional drama. This excludes, for example, sports television, television news, reality show and game shows, stand-up...

 first broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968. Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan
Patrick McGoohan
Patrick Joseph McGoohan was an American-born actor, raised in Ireland and England, with an extensive stage and film career, most notably in the 1960s television series Danger Man , and The Prisoner, which he co-created...

, it combined spy fiction
Spy fiction
Spy fiction, literature concerning the forms of espionage, was a sub-genre derived from the novel during the nineteenth century, which then evolved into a discrete genre before the First World War , when governments established modern intelligence agencies in the early twentieth century...

 with elements of science fiction, allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 and psychological drama.

The series follows a British former secret agent who is held prisoner in a mysterious seaside village where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job.
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Encyclopedia
The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series
Dramatic programming
Dramatic programming in the UK, or television drama and television drama series in the US, is television program content that is scripted and fictional along the lines of √a traditional drama. This excludes, for example, sports television, television news, reality show and game shows, stand-up...

 first broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968. Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan
Patrick McGoohan
Patrick Joseph McGoohan was an American-born actor, raised in Ireland and England, with an extensive stage and film career, most notably in the 1960s television series Danger Man , and The Prisoner, which he co-created...

, it combined spy fiction
Spy fiction
Spy fiction, literature concerning the forms of espionage, was a sub-genre derived from the novel during the nineteenth century, which then evolved into a discrete genre before the First World War , when governments established modern intelligence agencies in the early twentieth century...

 with elements of science fiction, allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 and psychological drama.

The series follows a British former secret agent who is held prisoner in a mysterious seaside village where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. Although sold as a thriller in the mould of McGoohan's previous series, Danger Man
Danger Man
Danger Man is a British television series that was broadcast between 1960 and 1962, and again between 1964 and 1968. The series featured Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. Ralph Smart created the program and wrote many of the scripts...

 (called Secret Agent in its U.S. release), the show's combination of 1960s countercultural
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

 themes and surreal setting had a far-reaching effect on science fiction/fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 programming, and on popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 in general.

A TV miniseries remake aired on the U.S. cable channel AMC 15–17 November 2009. In 2009, Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
Christopher Jonathan James Nolan is a British-American film director, screenwriter and producer.He received serious notice after his second feature Memento , which he wrote and directed based on a story idea by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. Jonathan went to co-write later scripts with him,...

 was widely reported to be considering a film version.

Origins and production


The show was created while Patrick McGoohan
Patrick McGoohan
Patrick Joseph McGoohan was an American-born actor, raised in Ireland and England, with an extensive stage and film career, most notably in the 1960s television series Danger Man , and The Prisoner, which he co-created...

 and George Markstein
George Markstein
George Markstein was a German-born British journalist and subsequent writer of thrillers and teleplays. He was the script editor and co-writer of "Arrival," the first episode of the British cult classic series The Prisoner, and appeared briefly in its title sequence...

 were working on Danger Man
Danger Man
Danger Man is a British television series that was broadcast between 1960 and 1962, and again between 1964 and 1968. The series featured Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. Ralph Smart created the program and wrote many of the scripts...

, an espionage show produced by Incorporated Television Company (also called ITC Entertainment). The exact details of who created which aspects of the show are disputed.

Some sources indicate that McGoohan was the sole or primary creator of the show. McGoohan stated in a 1977 interview (broadcast as part of a Canadian documentary about The Prisoner called The Prisoner Puzzle) that during the filming of the third season of Danger Man he told Lew Grade
Lew Grade
Lew Grade, Baron Grade , born Lev Winogradsky, was an influential Russian-born English impresario and media mogul.-Early years:...

  then chairman of ITC Entertainment, that he wanted to quit working on Danger Man after the filming of the proposed fourth series. Grade was unhappy with the decision, but when McGoohan insisted upon quitting, Grade asked if McGoohan had any other possible projects; McGoohan later pitched The Prisoner. However, in a 1988 article from British Telefantasy magazine Time Screen, McGoohan indicated that he had planned to pitch The Prisoner prior to speaking to Grade. In both accounts, McGoohan pitched the idea verbally, rather than having Grade read the proposal in detail, and the two made a verbal agreement for the show to be produced by Everyman Films, the production company formed by McGoohan and David Tomblin
David Tomblin
David Tomblin was a producer and assistant director born in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England. He was probably best known as the producer, director, and writer of The Prisoner .-Director:...

. In the 1977 account, McGoohan said that Grade approved of the show despite not understanding it, while in the 1988 account Grade expressed clear support for the concept.

Other sources, however, credit Markstein, who was then a script editor for Danger Man, with a significant or even primary portion of the development of the show. For example, Dave Rogers, in the book The Prisoner and Danger Man, said that Markstein claimed to have created the concept first and McGoohan later attempted to take credit for it, though Rogers himself doubted that McGoohan would have wanted or needed to do that. Rogers also stated that Markstein wrote a four page show Bible that became the basis of production for the show.

Part of Markstein's inspiration came from his research into World War II, where he found that some people had been incarcerated in a resort-like prison called Inverlair Lodge. Markstein suggested that Danger Man lead, John Drake (played by McGoohan), could suddenly resign, and be kidnapped and sent to such a location. McGoohan added Markstein's suggestion to material he had been working on, which later became The Prisoner. Furthermore a 1960 episode of Danger Man, "View from the Villa", had exteriors filmed in Portmeirion
Portmeirion
Portmeirion is a popular tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village and is now owned by a charitable trust....

, a Welsh resort village that struck McGoohan as a good location for future projects.

Further inspiration came from a Danger Man episode called "Colony Three", in which Drake infiltrates a spy school in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. The school, in the middle of nowhere, is set up to look like a normal English town in which pupils and instructors mix as in any other normal city, but the instructors are virtual prisoners with little hope of ever leaving. McGoohan also stated that he was influenced by his experience from theater, including his work in Orson Welles' 1955 play Moby Dick Rehearsed and the 1962 BBC teleplay The Prisoner by Bridget Boland. McGoohan wrote a forty-page show Bible, which included a "history of the Village, the sort of telephones they used, the sewerage system, what they ate, the transport, the boundaries, a description of the Village, every aspect of it…".

McGoohan stated in a 1985 interview that No.6 is not the same character as John Drake, further adding that he had originally wanted another actor to portray the character. However, other sources indicate that several of the crew members who continued on from Danger Man to work on The Prisoner considered it to be a continuation, and that McGoohan was continuing to play the character of John Drake. Furthermore, Rogers states that Markstein had wanted the character to be a continuation of Drake, but that doing so would have meant paying royalties to Ralph Smart
Ralph Smart
Ralph Smart was a film and television producer, director, and writer, born in England to Australian parents in 1908. He found work in Britain with Anthony Asquith and later alongside the film director Michael Powell, whom he assisted with "Quota quickies": low-budget B-pictures to fill production...

, creator of Danger Man. The issue has been debated by fans and TV critics, with some stating that the two characters are the same, based on similarities in the shows, the characters, a few repeating actors beyond McGoohan, and certain specific connections in various episodes.

In addition to originally conceiving of the show and starring as the lead, McGoohan also wrote and directed several episodes, often under pseudonyms.


The exteriors for the series were primarily filmed on the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion in Penrhyndeudraeth
Penrhyndeudraeth
Penrhyndeudraeth is a village and community in the Welsh county of Gwynedd. It is located between Traeth Mawr , the now largely reclaimed estuary of the Afon Glaslyn, and Traeth Bach , the estuary of the Afon Dwyryd. The village is close to the mouth of the Afon Dwyryd on the A487 from...

, North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

, the location that partially inspired the show. At the request of Portmeirion's designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis
Clough Williams-Ellis
Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, CBE, MC was an English-born Welsh architect known chiefly as creator of the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales.-Origins, education and early career:...

, the location of the series was not disclosed until the credits at the end of the last episode.

McGoohan had originally only wanted to produce 7 episodes of The Prisoner, but Grade argued that more shows were necessary in order for him to successfully sell the series to CBS. The exact number that was agreed to, along with how the series ended, is disputed by different sources. In a 1967 article, Dorothy Manners reported that CBS had asked McGoohan to produce 36 segments, but that he would only agree to produce 17. According to a 1977 interview, Grade requested 26 episodes, which McGoohan thought would spread the show too thin, but was able to come up with 17 episodes. According to The Prisoner: The Official Companion to the Classic TV Series, however, the series was originally supposed to run longer, but was canceled, forcing McGoohan to write the final episode in only a few days.

Opening and closing sequences



The opening and closing sequences of The Prisoner have become iconic. Cited as "one of the great set-ups of genre drama", the opening sequence establishes the Orwellian
Orwellian
"Orwellian" describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free society...

 and postmodern themes of the series; its high production values have led the opening sequence to be described as more like film than television.

Plot



The series follows an unnamed British agent who abruptly resigns his job, and then finds himself held captive in a mysterious seaside "village
The Village (The Prisoner)
The Village is the fictional setting of the 1960s UK television series The Prisoner where the main character, Number Six, is held with other former spies and operatives...

" that is isolated from the mainland by mountains and sea. The Village is further secured by numerous monitoring systems and security forces, including a mysterious balloon-like device called Rover
Rover (The Prisoner)
Rover is a fictional entity from the 1967 British television program The Prisoner, and was an integral part of the way 'prisoners' were kept within The Village. It was depicted as a floating white ball that could coerce, and, if necessary, disable inhabitants of The Village, primarily Number Six...

 that captures those who attempt escape.

The agent encounters the Village's population, hundreds of people from all walks of life and cultures, all seeming to be tranquilly living out their lives. As they do not use names, they have each been assigned a number. The agent inquires of the Village's chief administrator, Number Two
Number Two (The Prisoner)
Number Two was the title of the chief administrator of The Village in the 1967-68 British television series The Prisoner. More than 17 different actors appeared as holders of the office during the 17-episode series .The first...

, "Who is Number One?", to which Number Two responds, "You are Number Six
Number Six (The Prisoner)
Number Six is the central fictional character in the 1960s television series The Prisoner, played by Patrick McGoohan. In the AMC remake, the character is played by Jim Caviezel, renamed "Six"....

". The dialogue continues, "We want information", to which the agent responds "You won't get it!". "By hook or by crook, we will..."

The task of attempting to extract information from Number Six is carried out by the ever-changing "Number Two
Number Two (The Prisoner)
Number Two was the title of the chief administrator of The Village in the 1967-68 British television series The Prisoner. More than 17 different actors appeared as holders of the office during the 17-episode series .The first...

", acting as supposed proxy to the unseen "Number One". As the series unfolds, the audience learns that the Village authorities have other interests in Number Six aside from the knowledge he possesses: interests that often spare Number Six from the more destructive information-gathering techniques employed by the Village authorities upon other inmates.

Number Six, distrusting of anyone involved with the Village, refuses to co-operate or provide answers. Alone, he struggles with multiple goals: determining for which side the Village works, remaining defiant to its imposed authority, concocting his own plans for escape, learning all he can about the Village and subverting its operation. Some of his schemes, while not resulting in an escape, do lead to the dismissal of an incumbent Number Two on two occasions. By the end of the series the administration, becoming desperate for Number Six's knowledge and fearful of his growing influence in the Village, takes drastic measures that threaten the lives of Number Six, Number Two, and the rest of the Village.

The series features striking and often surreal storylines, and themes include hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug
Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants
This general group of pharmacological agents can be divided into three broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. These classes of psychoactive drugs have in common that they can cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness...

 experiences, identity theft
Identity theft
Identity theft is a form of stealing another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name...

, mind control
Mind control
Mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator, often to the detriment of the person being manipulated"...

, dream manipulation
Dream
Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, philosophical intrigue and religious...

, and various forms of social indoctrination
Indoctrination
Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology . It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned...

. A major theme of the show is individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 versus collectivism
Collectivism
Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

.

Cast and crew



Actors who played the same role in more than one episode are:
  • Patrick McGoohan
    Patrick McGoohan
    Patrick Joseph McGoohan was an American-born actor, raised in Ireland and England, with an extensive stage and film career, most notably in the 1960s television series Danger Man , and The Prisoner, which he co-created...

     as The Prisoner / Number Six
    Number Six (The Prisoner)
    Number Six is the central fictional character in the 1960s television series The Prisoner, played by Patrick McGoohan. In the AMC remake, the character is played by Jim Caviezel, renamed "Six"....

     (17 episodes)
  • Angelo Muscat
    Angelo Muscat
    Angelo Muscat was a character actor.Muscat was born in Malta. He appeared in 14 of the 17 episodes of the sixties cult television series The Prisoner, in which he played the famously mute Butler...

     as The Butler (14 episodes)
  • Peter Swanwick
    Peter Swanwick
    Peter Swanwick was a British actor best remembered as the "Supervisor" in the 1967 TV series, The Prisoner...

     as Supervisor (8 episodes)
  • Leo McKern
    Leo McKern
    Reginald "Leo" McKern, AO was an Australian-born British actor who appeared in numerous British and Australian television programmes and movies, and more than 200 stage roles.-Early life:...

     as Number Two
    Number Two (The Prisoner)
    Number Two was the title of the chief administrator of The Village in the 1967-68 British television series The Prisoner. More than 17 different actors appeared as holders of the office during the 17-episode series .The first...

     (3 episodes)
  • Colin Gordon
    Colin Gordon
    Colin Gordon was a British actor born in Ceylon .He was educated at Marlborough College and Christ Church, Oxford. He made his first West End appearance in 1934 as the hind legs of a horse in a production of “Toad of Toad Hall”. From 1936 to 1939 he was a director with the Fred Melville Repertory...

     as Number Two (2 episodes)
  • Denis Shaw
    Denis Shaw
    Denis Shaw was a British character actor specialising in slimy villains. Born in Dulwich, he was a rotund man, with dark, wavy hair, and slanty eyes...

     as The Shop Keeper (2 episodes)
  • Fenella Fielding
    Fenella Fielding
    Fenella Fielding — "England's first lady of the double entendre" — is an English actress, popular in the 1950s and 1960s. She is known for her seductive image and distinctively husky voice.-Family:...

     as The Announcer/Telephone Operator (voice only; unseen and uncredited, 6 episodes)
  • Frank Maher
    Frank Maher (stuntman)
    Frank Maher was a British stuntman, most famous for his roles as a stuntman or stunt coordinator in a vast range of British TV shows in particular the TV series Danger Man in which he frequently acted as a stunt double for the series star Patrick McGoohan.-Early career:He was born in London on 18...

     as McGoohan's stand-in and stunt/fight double. He was also the fight/stunt coordinator. (17 episodes—in particular, he can be seen at the start of almost every episode running across the beach)


Crew
  • Don Chaffey
    Don Chaffey
    Donald Chaffey was a British film director, writer, producer, and art director.Chaffey's film career began as an art director in 1947, and his directorial debut was in 1953. He remained active in the industry until his death in 1990 from heart failure...

     … Director (4 episodes)
  • Peter Graham Scott
    Peter Graham Scott
    Peter Graham Scott was an English film producer, film director, film editor and screenwriter. One of the producers and directors who shaped British television drama in its formative years, Scott brought a background in film editing and directing to his work that helped to move the small screen out...

     … Director (1 episode)
  • Eric Mival
    Eric Mival
    Eric Mival is a film editor, director, and music editor.Mival started his career in films and television working in editing roles on several TV programmes and feature films before becoming a BBC film editor...

     … Music Editor (13 episodes)
  • David Tomblin
    David Tomblin
    David Tomblin was a producer and assistant director born in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England. He was probably best known as the producer, director, and writer of The Prisoner .-Director:...

     … Director (2 episodes)

In other media



There have been several spin-offs of The Prisoner in other media, including novels, comic books, games and several attempts to make a movie.

Documentaries

  • Six into One: The Prisoner File, 1984, a 45-minute docudrama presented by Channel 4
    Channel 4
    Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

     after the series rerun
    Rerun
    A rerun or repeat is a re-airing of an episode of a radio or television broadcast. The invention of the rerun is generally credited to Desi Arnaz. There are two types of reruns—those that occur during a hiatus, and those that occur when a program is syndicated. Reruns can also be, as the...

    . With its central premise to establish a reason why Number 6 resigned, the presentation revolved around a new Number 2 communicating with staff (and Number 1). It reviewed scenes from Danger Man and The Prisoner, incorporated interviews with cast members (including McGoohan) and fans, and addressed the political environment giving rise to the series and McGoohan's heavy workload.
  • The Prisoner Video Companion, 1990: a 48-minute American production with clips, including a few from Danger Man, and voice-over narration discussing origins, interpretations, meaning, symbolism, etc., in a format modelled on the 1988 Warner book, The Official Prisoner Companion by Matthew White and Jaffer Ali. It was released to DVD in the early 2000s as a bonus feature with A&E's release of The Prisoner series. MPI also issued The Best of The Prisoner, a video of series excerpts.
  • American public television station KTEH (San Jose, California
    San Jose, California
    San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

    ), re-ran the series in the mid 1980s accompanied by commentary from critic Scott Apel
    Scott Apel
    D. Scott Apel is an American author and media critic. He is famous for his analyses of the work of science fiction author Philip K. Dick and the television series The Prisoner....

     before and after each episode. Clips of some of Apel's commentaries may be found on YouTube.
  • Don't Knock Yourself Out, 2007: a feature-length documentary (run time: 1 hour 35 minutes) issued as part of Network's official 40th Anniversary DVD set, featuring interviews with around 25 cast and crew members. The documentary received a separate DVD release, featuring an extended cut, in November 2007 accompanied by a featurette, "Make Sure It Fits", regarding Eric Mival's music editing for the series.
  • Warner Troyer
    Warner Troyer
    Warner Troyer was a Canadian broadcast journalist and writer.Troyer was born in Cochrane, Ontario, the son of Gordon Troyer, a Presbyterian circuit minister...

     did commentary after each episode during The Prisoner's run on TVO
    TVOntario
    TVOntario, often referred to only as TVO , is a publicly funded, educational English-language television station and media organization in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is operated by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, a Crown corporation owned by the Government of Ontario...


Remake



A remake
Remake
A remake is a piece of media based primarily on an earlier work of the same medium.-Film:The term "remake" is generally used in reference to a movie which uses an earlier movie as the main source material, rather than in reference to a second, later movie based on the same source...

  miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

, in the works since 2005, premiered on 15 November 2009 on American cable TV channel AMC
AMC (TV network)
AMC is a cable television specialty channel that primarily airs movies, along with a limited amount of original programming. The letters originally stood for American Movie Classics; however since 2002, the full name has been deemphasized as a result of a major shift in programming...

, made in cooperation with British broadcaster ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 after AMCs original production partner Sky1 had pulled out. On 25 April 2008, ITV announced that the new series would go into production, and in June 2008, that American actor James Caviezel
James Caviezel
James Patrick Caviezel, Jr. is an American film actor, usually credited as Jim Caviezel. He is known for the roles of Jesus Christ in the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, Bobby Jones in Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte...

 would star in the role of Number 6, with Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

 taking on the role of Number 2 in all six episodes. In May 2009 the shooting for the new series was completed with significant plot changes from the original television storyline. The new Village is located in a desert tropical area instead of Wales, with location filming taking place in Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 and South Africa. The six part series premiered in the UK on 17 April 2010.

Home video


The first home video editions of The Prisoner appeared in the 1980s. In North America, MPI Home Video released a series of 20 VHS tapes covering the series: one for each of the 17 episodes and three more containing "The Alternate Version of 'The Chimes of Big Ben'", a documentary and a "best of" compilation respectively. In the 1990s the first DVD release of the series occurred in North America/Region 1, with A&E Home Video
A&E Television Networks
A&E Television Networks is a U.S. media company that owns a group of television channels available via cable & satellite in the US and abroad...

 releasing the series in 4-episode sets and a full 10-disc "megabox" edition in the early 2000s; A&E subsequently reissued the megabox in a 40th anniversary edition in 2007. The A&E issue included "The Alternate Version of 'The Chimes of Big Ben'" and the MPI-produced documentary among its limited special features.

Numerous editions of The Prisoner were, meanwhile, released in the UK/Region 2 by companies such as Carlton. These editions differed from the Region 1 release in their special features, including one release that included a recently-discovered alternative version of "Arrival".

The Prisoner: The Complete Series was released on Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format. The plastic disc is 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Blu-ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs being the norm for feature-length video discs...

 in the United Kingdom on 28 September 2009, following in North America on 27 October. The episodes have been restored by Network DVD
Network DVD
Network DVD is a DVD publishing company that specialises in classic British television. In particular, it has the rights to a number of well-known ITV programmes...

 to create new high-definition
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

 masters, of which standard-definition
Standard-definition television
Sorete-definition television is a television system that uses a resolution that is not considered to be either enhanced-definition television or high-definition television . The term is usually used in reference to digital television, in particular when broadcasting at the same resolution as...

 versions were used for The Prisoner: 40th Anniversary Special Edition DVD boxset released in 2007. The US edition, once again by A&E Home Video, includes the first North American release of an alternative edit of "Arrival" (in high definition), as well as "The Alternate Version of 'The Chimes of Big Ben'" from the earlier DVD/VHS releases (in standard definition due to the degraded source material) and assorted documentaries and behind-the-scenes footage.

Awards and honours

  • The final episode, "Fall Out
    Fall Out (The Prisoner)
    "Fall Out" is the seventeenth and final episode of the allegorical British science fiction series The Prisoner, which starred Patrick McGoohan as the incarcerated Number Six...

    ", received a Hugo Award
    Hugo Award
    The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

     nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation
    Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation
    The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

     in 1969, but lost out to 2001: A Space Odyssey
    2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
    2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

    .
  • In 2002, the series won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    Prometheus Award
    The Prometheus Award is an award for libertarian science fiction novels given annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society, which also publishes a quarterly journal Prometheus. L. Neil Smith established the award in 1979, but it was not awarded regularly until the newly founded Libertarian Futurist...

    .
  • In 2004 and 2007, it was ranked #7 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever.
  • In 2001, TV Guide
    TV Guide
    TV Guide is a weekly American magazine with listings of TV shows.In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles...

     listed Fall Out
    Fall Out (The Prisoner)
    "Fall Out" is the seventeenth and final episode of the allegorical British science fiction series The Prisoner, which starred Patrick McGoohan as the incarcerated Number Six...

     as the 55th Greatest TV Episode of All Time.
  • In 2005, readers of SFX magazine awarded the series fifth place in a poll of British fantasy and science fiction television programs.
  • A 2006 survey of leading rock and film stars by Uncut
    UNCUT (magazine)
    Uncut magazine, trademarked as UNCUT, is a monthly publication based in London. It is available across the English-speaking world, and focuses on music, but also includes film and books sections...

     magazine ranking films, books, music or TV shows that changed the world, placed The Prisoner at #10, the highest for a TV show.

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