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you are now in the Village
I resigned so let me out of here

The Prisoner (1967-8) - for my money, this classic show is the finest and most intriguing TV series ever made.

Patrick McGoohan's fascinating "allegorical conundrum" tells espionage stories of secret agent Number Six, detained by a sinister authority for refusing to say why he resigned. The only way in or out of mysterious prison complex 'the Village' - famously centred on the architectural chaos of Portmeirion in North Wales - is via helicopter (an Aerospatiale Alouette II, piloted by Captain John Crewdson) but escape proved to be almost impossible for our iconic hero throughout the 17 episodes of spy-fi drama.
Alouette parked near Village castle in The Prisoner

Alouette II in The Village
Number 6 versus Rover in The Prisoner

In the first episode Arrival, the prisoner attempts to escape by stealing the helicopter but he's returned to the Village by remote control of the machine.

In episode The Girl Who Was Death, a Bell 47-G2 is featured in one of the many action scenes.

The Prisoner TV series used two different Alouette helicopters, one with landing skids, and another fitted with pontoon floats (see below for comparison photos).
helicopter in The Prisoner episode The Girl Who Was Death
photo © Joey Rhodes
(Bell 47 Helicopter Association)

vertical take-off in The Prisoner
Alouette helicopter and mini moke car

Number 6 in Village helicopter
McGoohan is flying blind

Village font style

The greatest TV series of all time, The Prisoner, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007 with a digitally re-mastered edition of the DVD boxset. Having recently visited Portmeirion, the picturesque coastal resort in Wales used for location shooting, my perspective on Patrick McGoohan's genre brainchild has changed, but only insofar as a brief stay in - and successful escape from - the 'village fantastique' has increased my critical appreciation of the timelessly original show.

While this century's Bourne and Bauer provoke controversy as heroic icons revealing everything that's wrong with the west's paranoiac and divisive socio-political spectrum, the dramatic impetus granted this series by struggling freedom fighter Number Six is more powerfully relevant now than ever.

Shattering the standard formula of home entertainment with its innovative techniques and overlapping metaphors, developing surreal platforms for intriguing SF adventures, breaking the constraints of studio bound conformity and censorial acceptability, and challenging viewers to always question whatever they see or hear, became astonishingly routine for McGoohan, and his production team, such that The Prisoner has since been elevated by fandom into the ultimate cult TV show.
- review by Tony Lee, previously published in Interzone #213 (Nov. 2007)
behind the scenes on The Prisoner

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