Oddly enough, one of the first Cult-sponsored books appeared around the same time. In 1989 French 'Le Prisonnier' fans produced this one.
In truth it is just one of a long series since and wasn't the first. Note I use the term series, as distinct from a serial. Patrick McGoohan, in one interview, back in 1979, to a 6-of-1 co-ordinator, tried to clarify the difference. It’s almost as arcane as Prisoner lore, but I think the point McGoohan tried to make was that a serial is a pre-defined number of episodes of a story whereas a series is a number of episodes that, at any one point of time is undeclared. The first series of Danger Man was a block of 39 episodes, so in one way it could be defined as a serial (albeit an unusually long one) but it is generally referred to as a series because when broadcast nobody watching knew that only 39 had been made,and the broadcasts were spread over two or more years. It is not always 39 course, as can be seen at this excellent web-page: http://www.danger-man.co.uk/episodes.asp
A contemporary series with The Prisoner was Man in a Suitcase and 30 episodes of that were made. Another contemporary series was The Saint: “The black-and-white episodes of The Saint were made in two production runs, the first, of 39 episodes and the second, of 32 episodes. Series 5, the first to be produced in colour, consisted of a production run of 32 episodes. The second colour production run consisted of 15 episodes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saint_(TV_series
Anyhow, one of the first published prisoner books was this French one and the authors were even able to obtain interview time with Patrick McGoohan, which is more than any of the English-language book ever managed to obtain. In 1977, Patrick McGoohan had made it very clear (in his TV interview with Warner Troyer) that he had intended to make and did make 17 episodes of his show. By 1989 however, the Prisoner fans had re-written this history to suit their own version of the past. This passage, from the 1989 French book is fairly typical of the cult-fan version of the events:
“A year after going into production only 13 episodes had been made (whereas Man in a Suitcase had completed 30 episodes in an equivalent period). Moreover rumours about McGoohan’s erratic attitude were beginning to circulate. Four more episodes were ordered in a desperate attempt to make the series saleable”
Quite how the authors came up with this *explanation* is only explicable because they were deeply informed by the version of events formulated by the cult consciousness over the previous decade. By 1989 of course, we are 22 years along from the actual events and 12 years on from the start of the cult.
Those in control of the present had also taken control of the past.
As with most prisoner books the authors were misleading their readers anyhow.
Researcher Andrew Pixley has confirmed by archival checks that:
Man in a Suitcase began it's primary shooting schedules in August 1966 and by the end of April 1967, there were 16 episodes ‘completed’.
The Prisoner began its shooting schedule work in September 1966 and by the end of April 1967, there were 13 episodes ‘completed’
A negligible difference, completely the opposite to the story related in most *authorised* books. The story of the two shows thereafter was very different, but this was by design, not by accident or circumstance. Man in a Suitcase production continued through the summer of 1967. The Prisoner production stopped after April and was not re-commenced until August 1967.
The main contention of prisoner fan books concerns the reasons for number of episodes being 17 and the quote from the French book is typical of them. They have derived a notion that because a block of 13 episodes formed the first part of the production process that there was an intention to have a further 13 and perhaps even another 13 after that. McGoohan, in 1977, had told them his truth, but as was typical of the cult fans, they simply did not believe him. They didn’t believe him about Rover's genesis and they didn’t believe he intended to make 17 epsiodes from a very early stage of production , maybe the very beginning, as he had recounted within his accounts of negotiating with Lew Grade.
In fact, despite all the fan-club rumour-mongering and their unattributable reports of off-stage whispering, there is clear and irrefutable evidence that the number of episodes had been confirmed at 17 within 1966. In February 1967 an American newspaper article quotes Mike Dann as having purchased at least 17 episodes of the new McGoohan show called The Prisoner. From the tenses implied within the quotes it is evident that Dann had first confirmed the deal before a single episode had been shot.
The Prisoner project had formally been on the boil since April 1966 of course, with the pre-production planning. There can be no doubting the pressure McGoohan would have been under. He had started his project wanting to make a seven-part serial. Under pressure from Lew Grade he increased that number by more than double. It seems that pressure continued and was even increased by additional pressure from CBS in America. In an article by Robert Musel from July, 1966 McGoohan had been quoted as saying that the series would be a minimum of 13 and a maximum of 30 and was plainly resisting what he perceived as urging to "scrape the bottom of the barrel". He wanted a limited serial, but his customers wanted MORE.....
This explains the making of the first 13 as a production block and why that block of 13 proceeded more or less the same way as did the sister series being produced by Sidney Cole. Any continued negotiation during that shooting season of 1966 did end however, and the deal for 17 was concluded. Before the August 1967 second shooting schedule ever began the number of 17 was reiterated as a certainty, with McGoohan’s clear statement that he would be making only four more episodes.
A year earlier than the Carraze book TV those Timescreen writers wrote some excellent articles about The Prisoner, but even they found themselves subscribing to the cult version of events, suggesting Mcgoohan's project was somehow whirling out of his control, so inculcated was this version of history impregnated in the whole echelon of TV history writers.
“The decision was taken to end the show prematurely in ITC's opinion and the star announced during the making of The Girl Who Was Death that the next episode would be the last, and he would write it. http://www.the-mausoleum-club.org.uk/timescreen/Trial%2012/ts12cv.htm
These cross-currents emphasise the deep-seated disbelief of McGoohan’s own accounts of the events that fans have promulgated as they pursued their own agendas of *discovering the truth*.
Lew Grade mentions the project in his autobiography. He seemed to have little problem recalling the events:
I had lunch one day at CBS....... I told them I had a project called 'The Prsioner' with Patrick McGoohan, and showed them a portfolio of pictures of the village of Portmeirion, which was the location we intended to use. "At the moment though, Patrick McGoohan only wants to make 17 episodes," I said. "How much do you want?" they asked. I told them the terms and they said we had a deal.
The story is certainly not entirely a simple one. In fact, if you're not a student of this particular conundrum and have reached the end of this blog, then you may be feeling like you've just tried to speed-learn differential equations. What is clear from this unbiased and contemporary and documented history is that some of the more extreme accounts of the production history of the show, published in books since the 1980's are plainly fictional and often misleading.
I cannot finish this Blog without giving full credit to a fellow-researcher. We first met whilst mutually disassembling the big lih about Vietnam and the cowboy episode (see one of my first blogathons). Anyhow Sheriff Tomm and I became determined to *clean up the town* and much of the previously unknown American material I have referred to in my blogrolls has been located by this young American hero, and I would like to pay tribute to his discoveries right here and now...
Yeeha! Sheriff Tomm
I only know I must be brave
And I must face a man who hates me
Or lie a coward, a craven coward
Or lie a coward in my grave