Rick Davy is a writer and researcher and author of the book 'The Prisoner - The Essential Guide' and co-editor of the book 'Playboys, Spies and Private Eyes - Inspired by ITC'. Rick has contributed to many other books related to 'The Prisoner', and is hols of the ITC celebration events at Elstree Studios. He also wrote the production text commentaries for all 17 episodes for the 50th Anniversary edition of the BluRay and DVD sets and for 17 years has run The Unmutual Website at theunmutual.co.uk, the World's largest website devoted to the series, talks with filmmaker Fabrizio Federico about his works.
How old were u when you discovered The Prisoner? I was 10 years old in 1983 when the series was repeated on Channel 4 in the UK. My 20 year old brother, knowing I liked offbeat series such as 'Sapphire and Steel', had seen the series in the late 70s when it was previously repeated on ITV and said to me 'ask Mum if you can stay up, there's a show you might like on C4 late on Monday night'. Even aged 10 I was aware that what I was watching was unique, and also incredibly important, television. I watched 'live' on the night, and recorded it on VHS and rewatched a couple of times before the following week's episode (inexplicably 'Many Happy Returns' was shown second, not that I knew at the time that this was odd), and I was hooked from then. The show has lived with me ever since and is completely unrivalled in terms of the effect it has had on me.
What is your interpretation of the show? Can be summed up in six words; "The Village is all around us".
Your fav episode? I genuinely love all 17 episodes, for different reasons, but the episode I'd pick out as being a shining example is 'Checkmate'. Not only does it have the elements which make the series as a whole great (lots of Portmeirion footage, inclusion of Rover, great plot, action/adventure sequences, great acting, the sinister side of the Village on show), it also contains a great allegorical tale for life. We are all pawns.
Some episodes are better regarded than others by fans, but I genuinely feel all of them weave wonderfully together to form an unforgettable series. The episode 'Do No Forsake Me Oh My Darling' for example often comes bottom of fan polls, but it has some fantastic music in it, some of the best in the entire series in fact, as well as some great location footage, and a nice peek at the 'non-Village life' of Number Six.
So many other great episodes, but I'd put 'A. B. and C', 'Many Happy Returns' and 'Hammer into Anvil' at the top of the list for pure drama and plot, with 'Dance of the Dead' in there for its great surrealist and allegorical elements, and 'Once Upon a Time' is a tour-de-force of acting. But there's in my opinion not a weak episode amongst the 17.
What do you think of the 3 novels of The Prisoner? There have been 11 novels written based on 'The Prisoner', and only one in my opinion ('The Prisoner's Dilemma' by Jonathan Blum and Ruper Booth) coming close to getting the essence of the series on their pages. The original 17 episodes really caught the sun in a bottle and cannot be equalled by fiction writers or fan film makers (not that there's anything wrong in trying, of course). The problem people have when they create these things is that they deliberately try to be enigmatic, wheres the enigmatic nature of McGoohan's original came naturally.
What is your fav piece of memorabilia? That I own? I'm very proud to have been intrusted with several items from the production of the series including the original master tapes of the first music recording sessions for the series, and I secured at auction the original film print of the original/alternative 'cut' of the opening episode 'Arrival'. There's been lots of wonderful attempts at creating memorabilia, such as wonderful models of some of the iconic props and so forth, but there's nothing more satisfying than picking up a decent condition version of the original 'Dinky' Mini Moke released at the time of the series.
Did you ever meet Patrick McGoohan? I had the opportunity to, but I always felt that he preferred the company of family and friends, rather than 'fans', so I chose not to. I'm happy I chose that path. The correspondence he sent when I organised some charity fundraising events in Portmeirion in the mid 2000s, when he donated signed photos for us to auction off, was enough for me to show that he was a great man. I have since met and corresponded with his daughter Catherine, and she's very much like her father - to some extent I feel like I met him, when I met her, despite it being several years after he passed away when I met her.
What is your interpretation of the final episode? 'Fall Out' is a work of genius in my opinion. It shows us that however much we want to escape the prisons that we make for ourselves within society, there is no escape from them. The series is a perfectly executed allegory of life. We think we are free, but we never truly are, due to the shackles that we place upon ourselves.
What do you think inspired Patrick to make The Prisoner? He's been quoted as saying that he wanted to stand up for the individual and anyone who had been trampled on my bureaucracy, and I think he definitely got that message across. Patrick McGoohan was a true visionary. One only has to look around at the World today, over 50 years on, to see that all his predictions (cordless phones, cashless society, dehumanisation, Government control of the masses, propaganda media, electorates voting for dictators, CCTV) have sadly come to a fruition. He could see that society was sleepwalking into its own imprisonment. He was right.