The Prisoner Audio
June 8, 2020 11:21 AM   Subscribe

The BBC has produced a series of audio adaptations of Patrick McGoohan's series The Prisoner. They are up to Season 3, and three episodes are currently available: Free For All, The Girl Who Was Death, and The Seltzman Connection.

These are new stories inspired by the original series, not audio adaptations of the original episodes. I found the two episodes I sampled to be quite entertaining, and you should have no trouble jumping into these if you are familiar with the original series. Number Six is played by Mark Elstob who manages to remind you of McGoohan without trying to do an impression of him. The music is also inspired by the original series score.
posted by wittgenstein (23 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Poster's Log: This seemed like the kind of thing a lot of MeFites would be interested in.
posted by wittgenstein at 11:22 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I wished I loved anything as much as the BBC loves The Prisoner.
posted by bleep at 11:24 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Either it's going to be easier to understand without the weird visuals or even more incomprehensible. There's no escaping it.
posted by tommasz at 11:31 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Maybe we should hold a ping pong ball near our face while listening to each episode...
posted by PhineasGage at 11:48 AM on June 8 [9 favorites]


I've legitimately always been curious about this. I'm looking forward to seeing what they've done with it, as it's hard to appreciate the original being totally blind. I'm unaware if they did any audio description for it.
posted by Alensin at 12:25 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Oooh, interesting!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 PM on June 8


McGoohan had a very unique accent, so I’m eager to hear this new feller’s interpretation of the role.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:48 PM on June 8


This is exciting! Shame the previous episodes don't seem to available, though. Are they available elsewhere, e.g. for purchase as an audiobook?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:57 PM on June 8


so I’m eager to hear this new feller’s interpretation of the role.

He has definitely incorporated some of McGoohan's unusual vocal mannerisms, including but not limited to

* Incredibly clipped diction
* Sudden bursts of dramatic volume change
* Sudden bursts of dramatic pitch raises
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:27 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Whaaat? Very cool. Thanks!
posted by rmd1023 at 1:44 PM on June 8




Be hearing you!
posted by benzenedream at 3:16 PM on June 8 [12 favorites]


Being a rabid Prisoner fan since long ago, I clicked on Free for All, which was an original episode. I only made it a few minutes in. The American accents were grating and the reference to the Village Rifle Association, as in NRA, did it for me. The original Prisoner was not topical, it hasn’t dated. Dropping what I assume to be a satirical reference to the NRA, while pertinent to elections now, just left me cold. The few minutes I heard sounded as if this was a rewrite of an existing episode made up to date. No thanks.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:26 PM on June 8


tobascodagama: This is exciting! Shame the previous episodes don't seem to available, though. Are they available elsewhere, e.g. for purchase as an audiobook?

This looks like a 2015 production (Digital Spy), released on 3 sets of 5 CDs (Prisoner Fandom). Out of print on CD, Big Finish has a 3 volume bundle for download ($75 USD), or you could buy individual volumes ($35 USD each).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:47 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of embarrassed by my younger enthusiasm for The Prisoner, which I think has a certain appeal for young white males unaware of their privilege in our world. I can imagine it appealing very well to a mindset that could easily fall into Objectivism, or a Richard Dawkins kind of atheism. ("I before E except after C, or unless you're bloody well spelling theism, because English is a bucket of writhing eels.")

To his credit, I think McGoohan himself came to feel this way, at the end of the show, which helps to explain the direction the TV series took in the last couple of episodes, especially in Fall Out, where 6's desire to escape from The Village, which by this point has obviously become something more than just a thing designed to break an individual, has become a metaphor for a society in general, results in an orgy of pantomime violence set to Beatles music. Remember who Number One turned out to be....

  • Sudden bursts of dramatic volume change
  • Sudden bursts of dramatic pitch raises

A vocal style we might could call Shatnering....
posted by JHarris at 2:49 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Oh, and does anyone remember that 2009 update with Ian McKellen, I never got to see that, how did it turn out? I suppose there's a reason I have heard much about it.
posted by JHarris at 2:53 AM on June 9


It wasn't very good. Mostly dull and unimaginative, that is to say the opposite of The Prisoner.

The production of the series was complicated, but there's no reason to think that McGoohan had become disenchanted with it by episode 16 of 17. Once Upon a Time and Fall Out are kind of the point of the series. The whole thing is rather more metaphorical than literal, and it might be more fruitful to think of it as about psychology than espionage. It's one of the most remarkable television series ever made, and it took decades before anyone tried to make anything that approached it in sheer strangeness.

By the way, it's the most un-BBC series imaginable, particularly for the time. I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about all sorts of different kinds of British television being lumped together as BBC. It's a series made for commercial television by ITC Entertainment, who also gave us The Avengers, The Saint, all the Gerry Anderson series, The Muppet Show and many, many more extraordinary things.
posted by Grangousier at 3:42 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Out of print on CD, Big Finish has a 3 volume bundle for download ($75 USD), or you could buy individual volumes ($35 USD each).

Thanks!

Anyway, the casting of McKellan was literally the only good thing about the 2009 The Prisoner, and they didn't even do anything good with it. Well, ok, I also liked the running gag where all the food was served as wraps, that was fun. But literally everything else was garbage.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:42 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Oh wow. I'd blocked that out of my memory, it was so staggeringly mediocre.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:10 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The production of the series was complicated, but there's no reason to think that McGoohan had become disenchanted with it by episode 16 of 17. Once Upon a Time and Fall Out are kind of the point of the series.

What I had heard is that the early parts of the show were written partly written by George Markstein, whose influence can be seen as stories being more straightforward. As it became even more McGoohan's baby it got more experimental and allegorical. While episodes 16 and 17 do serve as a conclusion (and now I'd say a good one), I don't think it was in mind from the opening scene of Arrival.
posted by JHarris at 12:25 AM on June 10


George Markstein wrote a novel called The Cooler that loosely reflects many of the ideas in "his" version of The Prisoner. I read it in my 20s.
posted by wittgenstein at 8:18 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


What about the 1967 novelization of The Prisoner by Thomas M. Disch? Penguin rereleased it in 2009 for the promotion of the McKellen version. This is obviously based on the original series.
posted by njohnson23 at 7:18 PM on June 10


There were three Prisoner novels published in the 60s and reprinted many many times. Of the three, I liked Hank Stine's the best. YMMV
posted by wittgenstein at 1:12 PM on June 11


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