Recourse to published books only emphasises the disparity that has arisen between authored information and the factual evidence to support them. The notion that the Script Editor on The Prisoner provided the story theme and the initial original driving energy for the show is promoted in every book on the subject. The extract below comes from one of the most recent official books, published in 2007. The creationist theories always reach back to the groundless and well-denied assumption that The Prisoner was somehow a direct sequel to Danger Man, that then became ‘psychedelic’. This notion was largely preset into the fan community by memoirs initially obtained from George Markstein, many of them "off the record" and so, these offstage whispers embroidered a legend that now often accepted at face value, even though every piece of hard evidence contradicts the concocted story.
The changes wrought upon the physicality of Rover, made entirely without reference to the script editor, serves to emphasise the point I made in my previous blog about how Mr.McGoohan utilised his assembled creative personnel to serve his own stream of consciousness, using them – rather than negotiating with them. It also seems that many ideas and tropes of the series were only developed after that initial filming schedule was carried out.
One of the principal and most in-depth memoirs that emerged over the years was actually written by someone who came late to the production. Ian Rakoff then left over twenty years between the events and writing his book, Inside the Prisoner.
Mr.Greifer was a very active member of the Writers Guild. This Trades Union was especially virile in the years of the 1960’s, expanding from being a small union for screenwriters, increasingly to include professional writers of other persuasions, such as novelists. It was embroiled in 1965 in industrial unrest and Lew Grade, on behalf of ITC, was notable in leading the employers to agreeing new deals for writers over such matters as Royalties and Residuals –payments due to writers over and above their fee for providing creative works. It has been claimed by fans since that Greifer said that he and George Markstein were discussing The Prisoner long before the series was ever begun, but this slightly baffling notion has never really been explained, although of course one explanation for this could lie in the fact that presumably McGoohan must have intimated to Greifer what he was asking him to be script editor for, and so, consequent to this Greifer would have explained some of it to Markstein, when he was suggesting Markstein to McGoohan as an alternative.
Going back to The General, it is an irony that Mr.Greifer himself reminsiced that his script was instantly liked by McGoohan, but not so much by Markstein! Once again though, this script seems to been instigated not by George Markstein but by David Tomblin who requested that the episode be written to utilise a lot of footage already filmed. This was also a stipulation for It’s Your Funeral. It seems to be requirements such as these laid upon the scriptwriters that demonstrates how the Producers communicated between the filming process and the writing of scripts, and emphasises perhaps another reason why David Tomblin said, “… so in the end, detailed storylines was the way to approach it…”
Mr.Parkes recalled Change of Mind as being his first big script commission, so it might be guessed that senior writers such as Gerald Kelsey would have received fees commensurate with their own expertise, and even where scripts were not used, advances were properly paid for the work that was done. Roger Parkes is another professional who maintained contact with George Markstein over the ensuing years and even joined him in some minor litigation against ATV over Royalties, presumably those they considered due from worldwide showings of the show, which became a staple in America especially on their many syndicated television stations. The Prisoner was repeated in Britain in 1968/69 but then not shown again on UK television until 1976. However in those countries with a more diverse broadcasting network it became a worldwide hit and was regularly being used. This is also contrary to the claims in the official histories (such as the one pictured earlier) about The Prisoner being a commercial failure - another complete myth that fanbabble maintains in the teeth of it being verifiably a claim without foundation.
In 1966, Vincent Tilsley was arguably the most experienced scriptwriter to contribute to The Prisoner and he wrote one of the very first scripts that were ready in time for the location filming at Portmeirion. His first script ended up broadcast as Episode Two. Like Anthony Skene he acknowledged being given very little idea what to write about. In fact Vincent Tilsley's description of the whole process indicates the same feeling that something was going wrong in the script commissioning process right from the beginning, with hints of the same sort of last-minute chaotic appraoch that was recounted by Moris Farhi:
Collect the facts, ignore them and then make up a story they like better instead seems to be the nature of cultism. This reached a pitch for Vincent Tilsley, when he appeared to post his own retraction on an internet message board. It's not something you're ever likely to read in a book:
"About a week before Christmas '66 George Markstein and I were sharing a minicab back to London having had a long script conference at Borehamwood. I can't remember much about the conference but can remember a lot about George's uncertain mood. Needless to say, the conversation on the way home continued to be entirely about the series, with George still in touchy vein, full of angst, critical of almost everyone and everything. When I tried to change the subject by asking him what he'd be doing for Christmas, he neatly sidestepped his way back into obsessiveness by saying, "Well, funny you should ask that – I'm not sure. I had this dream last night. I was at home Christmas morning with the family, when it suddenly occurred to me that Patrick hadn't actually said I could have the day off…"
And so to the rest of the story as now printed [in the official book].
"Nothing true about the tale, therefore, other than the fact of George Markstein's telling of it. I didn't believe he'd had any such dream, of course, nor did I ever think I was supposed to. He'd just made it up, as his way of saying "And to make things even worse, Patrick seems to think he's God Almighty…" but at the same time trying to warp his ire up in an amusing story form rather than have it sound diminishingly whinging.”
You will find this *story* in more than one book about The Prisoner, but it always presented as if the events between the people *actually* happened, whereas in fact, the entire tale was merely an entertaining fiction. That seems to have been what sparked Mr. Tilsley to make the realised, when he realised how his tale was being misrepresented.