In first of the two biographies written about Patrick McGoohan since 2007, there is this quote on page 109:
However, in the early days, there was...probably no plan on the part of the star or his team to create...something as cryptic as The Prisoner.
The notion that the development of The Prisoner was more or less accidental ties in with the perception of it as being some epitome of a Sixties Happening. Yet, right from the beginning Patrick McGoohan had plainly stated that the programme he was making was intended to be something out of the ordinary, and shortly after production ended, he was re-emphasising that. Whilst The Prisoner might nowadays be seen as somehow typical of the Sixties, the contradiction is that Patrick McGoohan was by no means a typical man of the Sixties. His conservative views about the world around him were expressed by him in the real world of 1968 in such comments as these:
Indeed, it is Free For All that completely disproves the notion that,
there was...probably no plan on the part of the star...something as cryptic as The Prisoner
This episode from the pen of "the star" and written even before Arrival was finished serves to demonstrate how cryptic McGoohan was planning to be, and like Sieburg how frustrated and despairing of the masses he had become, and how his allegory about the contemporary human condition was wrapped within the shell of an exciting Spy v Spy tale. The fact that such a pre-eminent 'fan' as a biographer can can have been so deceived about McGoohan and The Prisoner by all the cultish fan babble that denies the man any credit for knowing what he was doing from the very beginning... speaks volumes.
I am not a number. I am a person
It is also in this very first script of the series that you can see the proof of what McGoohan said in that interview in 1968 that heads up this blog, that from the very beginning he was writing cryptically but knew who exactly Number One was, from the very beginning.
If you win, Number One will no longer be a mystery to you, if you know what I mean...
In Fall Out, No6 had 'won', and No1 was revealed to him. If you see what I mean, and what the script-writer meant.
Of course the cultish biographer was inevitably influenced by the prisoner-cult contention that McGoohan did not think the show up himself, and that he only wrested control of it from someone who the masses of fans had decided was the true instigator of their favourite show. Like rotting cabages they had accepted the imprisonment of their own beliefs, which were largely the result of the deceits and errors of the leaders they listened to, about how the show was first thought up, and why and who by. Someone should make a TV show about how cults have their own agendas. In some ways that may be exactly what Patrick Joseph McGoohan, in 1967, did do. Such a splendid irony. Someone else should write a book about it, but who would want to read that?
You cannot really expect to understand the creative nuances of The Prisoner unless you have some grasp of the nuances of the times that lay behind it. Those times were the 1950's and although nowadays those years are painted to us as being as monochrome and grainy as their old TV pictures showing a world of austere conformity, to those who lived the transition there seemed to be the loss of a certain type of personal freedom, which was being replaced by an enslavement of a colourful and exciting kind, but an enslavement nonetheless, and the curious thing was that the people were doing it for themselves. They were their own worst enemy. They had a thirst for Progress.