Their lack of study of that history is perhaps forgiveable because in 1977, the Ontario group were not first and foremost interested in the making of the show, but more interested in the meaning of it. However, in the intervening four decades since then, nobody else in the world of prisoner fandom seems to have been interested enough in actual documented history to find all this out. They have filled books up with piffle and paffle, but of their Number One? They know nothing. Number Six would no doubt smile sardonically at this point.
Anyhow....... the order is.... for the record...............
05/09/67 - "Arrival"
12/09/67 - "A, B and C"
19/09/67 - "Free For All"
26/09/67 - "The Schizoid Man"
03/10/67 - "The General"
10/10/67 - "Hammer into Anvil"
17/10/67 - "It's Your Funeral"
24/10/67 - "Many Happy Returns"
31/10/67 - "Change of Mind"
07/11/67 - "Checkmate"
14/11/67 - "Dance of the Dead"
21/11/67 - "Once Upon a Time"
28/11/67 - "The Chimes of Big Ben"
What does this all mean? I expect it means what it is - a different order, but perhaps not one that many lovers of watching this show in different orders might have thought of. That the Canadians took their own, very unique line on the show is evident from some of their choices; and it must have been a selecting process to some degree as the order seems to follow no pattern of episodes simply becoming avaialable from the producers - Many Happy Returns for instance was the very last episode of these thirteen to enter production, but is shown at number 8 - whilst A,B&C remains very close to the start, as it does in the *real* broadcast order.
The fact that Once Upon A Time remains used as a penultimate episode is however no coincidence I think- given that McGoohan had always pre-destined it as his penultimate episode. That this episode least encourages the use of Chimes of Big Ben as the final one is emphasised by the fact that Leo McKern's Number Two had died at the end of Once Upon A Time ! However, the appealingly poignant and inconclusive ending of Chimes of Big Ben makes it an excellent choice as the series closer of course. Quite how these two final episodes segued for the original Canadian audience is not clear but the show certainly intrigued them as witnessed by some news comment the following year.
The impression given is that the show was *abruptly* cancelled. However, the story looks to be a little more complicated than that because the order of episodes shown by Canadian TV is both so radically different from the norm, yet still retains the significant elements of using Once Upon A Time as the penultimate one; whilst the thought-provoking notion of making Chimes of Big Ben the finale, rather than the more obvious choice of Many Happy Returns, which was the 13th episode put into production, seems to suggest a guiding hand by somebody.
As always with The Prisoner, things are rarely as simple as they might seem.
Be seeing you - or do I mean...... POP!