04 May 2006

"Number Six, Why Did You Resign As Dr. Who Number Nine?"

Patrick McGoohan's 1967 masterpiece "The Prisoner" is set to be remade into a six-part "thrilling reinvention", with former "Dr. Who" Christopher Eccleston to portray the titular character, the enigmatic and indefatigable "Number Six".

McGoohan's witty, paranoia-drenched deconstruction of Cold War-era spy melodramas ran for 17 episodes on ITV, and, for me, remains at the top of my list of all-time favorite dramatic television series. As a kid in the 70s, I happened upon a rebroadcast of the hallucinatory final episode, and had no idea what the hell was going on, but fell in love with it immediately. I remember when TVOntario ran the series once a week and concluded each installment with a commentary/analysis by Werner Troyer--in an era where sci-fi and fantasy programming was rare, British fare like "The Prisoner" and Gerry Anderson's "UFO" and unfairly-maligned "Space:1999" helped stimulate the imagination with something other than "Star Trek" and "Lost In Space" reruns until Lucas and Spielberg came along.

The new "Prisoner" series will be produced by Granada, from a pilot script by Bill Gallagher, writer of the series "Clocking Off" (I confess, I've not seen it). The producers promise a long list of "A-list" talent are seeking involvement with the re-invention.

"Like '24', the new series will entrap you from the opening scene", promises executive producer Damien Timmer. "We hope it will tap into this iconic show's existing cult following, whilst creating a whole new generation of fans." No word on whether or not McGoohan will be involved--he was cool enough to voice a parody of his character on "The Simpsons" a few years back.

Check out this piece on "The Village" itself, in actuality Sir Clough Williams-Ellis "Portmeirion" resort in North Wales (thanks, Phil L!).