Patrick Joseph McGoohan was born in Queens of Irish parentage, but raised in Ireland and England, where he attended Ratcliffe College, a Roman Catholic public school boasting the architecture of Pugin, in Leicestershire, where, according to Wikipedia, he excelled at mathematics and boxing.
McGoohan was perfect for the role of British secret agent, having intellectual good looks, a natural aptitude for conveying the impression of competence and intensity of will, and possessing a distinctly U accent.
He might have been far more famous as an actor, but he turned down the roles of James Bond and the Saint back in the 1960s, just as he turned down the roles of Gandalf and Dumbledore more recently.
He will be remembered for The Prisoner (1967-68), which he produced, wrote, and starred in, and frequently directed. The series flopped in Britain, but proved in hit in France and the United States producing its own cult following. The Prisoner was revolutionary television, operating at a wholly unprecedented level of surrealism, metaphor, and sophistication, and scarcely equaled since as a vehicle of ideas.
Varifrank posted yesterday:
My favorite quote from “The Prisoner”, which seems rather timely right about now is this exchange with Leo McKern as “Number 2”.
Number 2: What in fact has been created? An international community. A perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realize that they’re looking into a mirror, they’ll see that this is the pattern for the future.
Number 6: The whole earth as… ‘The Village’?
Number 2: That is my hope. What’s yours?
Number 6: I’d like to be the first man on the moon!
Reason quotes a reader of the French newspaper Le Monde: “Patrick McGoohan finally escaped.”
The Prisoner was very successful in Britain at the time. All 17 episodes were repeated the following year (1968) and over the succeeding years, it was often repeated again. 1971 was another year I have noted.
Similarly it was repeated in syndication in America every year – there being many more channels in the USA at that time, than in Britain. The fiction about it being unpopular is a misconstruing of the initial complaints stemming from confused viewers after the very first broadcast of Fall-Out and even this story is a little apocrphyl – 300 calls areestimated but audience figures of 10 million are now quoted for Britain, which is a perfectly respectable number…… and 300 is quite a small one.
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