Such context as this illustrates how the world of Number Six allegorised the political world of the 1960’s. As I discussed in my previous blog to this one, The Prisoner was commissioned on April 16th 1966, but it seems the exact scripting of the show remained quite fluid even four months later, when Everyman began location filming in Portmeirion (on September 5th 1966). The script of Arrival necessarily had to have been more firmly designed however, as it was being utilised to act as the functional introduction to the rules and default settings that would apply to the Village. David Tomblin and George Markstein were the credited writers, but Tomblin was quick to memorialise that Patrick McGoohan was significantly involved in the writing too. The first half of that episode seems to have used the events in Freedom and You/Red Nightmare as a structural template.
If you watch Red Nightmare you will find that the film begins with an opening long shot of “Mid Town, USA”. It quite resembles a village, with a tall spire at its focus. Is it in Kansas? It is not!
Your Permit Number please.
Permit Number? I’m afraid I don’t have a permit. I just want to call my house and talk to my wife.
No personal calls allowed without a permit from the Commissar. Now get off the line please.
What exchange is this?
I want to make a call ...
Local calls only! What is your number, sir?
Haven’t got a number.
No number, no call.
Jerry is already inside a shop when he tries to makes his call, whereas Number Six makes his call out of doors and then finds his way inside a shop. Both baffled men eventually leave these shops in order to explore their strange new hometown. Jerry doesn't need a map.
For Jerry, things rapidly go from bad to worse. His wife and children are cold to him because they are more interested in the welfare of the Party than the welfare of their husband/parent. Jerry’s workmates despair of his inability to meet his quotas. The townsfolk turn against him because he complains about the way things are being run, and after his vandalism in the museum Jerry is arrested, tried by a court where his only defence can be to confess, and very soon his nightmare ends with his execution.
No single word in all mankind has come to mean so much.
To prevent Communism from consuming the entire free world there stands but one man.
That man Is You.
In 1977, when Patrick McGoohan was first interviewed specifically about The Prisoner, he remarked at one point:
“I had a whole format prepared of this ‘Prisoner’ thing which initially came to me on one of the locations on ‘Secret Agent’ when we went to this place called Portmeirion, where a great deal of it was shot, and I thought it was an extraordinary place, architecturally and atmosphere wise, and should be used for something, and that was two years before the concept came to me.”
McGoohan was filming in Portmeirion in 1960 with David Tomblin, and that was two years before Freedom and You/Red Nightmare was produced.
In 1966 Patrick McGoohan went to Lew Grade with an idea that Lew thought so crazy it just might work, and afterwards David Tomblin recalled his friend and partner telling him that Lew had guaranteed the money they needed to make the show that he reminded Tomblin was, 'what we’ve talked about all these years’.