A one-day celebration of Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner", "Danger Man", and Portmeirion.
SUNDAY 13TH AUGUST 2006, THE HOTEL PORTMEIRION, In aid of Ty Gobaith Children's Hospice.
Organised by The Unmutual Website, and PrizBiz.
Report by Rick Davy.
Photographs by Rick Davy, Alan Jones, Ronnie Soo, Lee Arnall, Jill Mills, David Mackenzie, Darren Stokes, Mathew Lock, and Paul Smith.
On Sunday 13th August 2006, Portmeirion's Hercules Hall came alive once more due to fans of Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner", "Danger Man" and Portmeirion attending a very special event.
For many, the day started much earlier than the scheduled opening time of 11.00am. Thankfully, the hard-working staff at Portmeirion had already readied much of the hall, allowing myself and special guest Robert Monks to drive to nearby Penrhyndeudraeth to conduct an interview with BBC Radio Wales (the 2nd time in a week that Robert had done this). At 9.30am it was back to the Hall to set up the large screen, audio equipment, and stalls which would provide much of the event's entertainment.
A packed hall at PM2006
At 11.00am the hall opened, and in flooded over 100 attendees, for the second year a sell-out event. All had purchased tickets in advance and this year we not only had fans from all over the UK, but also several parties from the USA, France, and Spain. Each was welcomed and presented with a colour 16-page event programme.
At 11.30am the day's events officially began with event MC Dave Jones welcoming everyone, and running through the event timetable. The special guests were introduced (and, in fact, attended the entire day's events). First up was our first special guest, Robert Fairclough, who attended with his wife Rachel (who ably ran the couple's merchandise and information stall in the side room).
Rachel and Robert Fairclough
Robert, a highly respected TV Historian and writer, updated us all with his various projects, including of course his "Prisoner" script books and "Prisoner" and "Danger Man" partworks, and gave his views on the mooted "Prisoner" remakes.
An amused Mr Fairclough
Fascinating as usual, Robert also took questions from the audience before we moved to our next item.
Robert interviewed by Dave Jones
"The Prisonbear" is a project with which Unmutual Website readers may already be familiar. The original "Prisonbear" film "Revival" had previously only been available to watch on the internet, so with most of the audience having not seen the film it was a treat indeed to see it on the big screen.
"Prisonbear" on location.
People were literally howling with laughter at the exploits of "Prisonbear", incarcerated in a strange Village inhabited by other fluffy toys. Next up, with the bar now open for the day, was a scheduled break, which allowed attendees to visit the various merchandise stalls in the side room of the hall.
As well as buy event merchandise, there was an opportunity to take a look at some of the props, sets, and characters used in the "Prisonbear" film.
Also on display was David Mackenzie's now expanded Lego Village - Portmeirion buildings, and "Prisoner" locations and vehicles, constructed in Lego!
David Mackenzie and his Lego Village.
David's display was somewhat larger this year, with several new Portmeirion buildings and "Prisoner" locations having been constructed in the past year.
The Lego Village
Also on display alongside "Prisonbear" items, The Lego Village, and no-less than 3 different merchandise stalls, was a figurine of attendee and Prisoner London Location Tour organiser Dave Lally.
Dave Lally and Dave Lally Junior
With drinks purchased, it was time to go back in the hall for the second screening of the day. "Under The Lake" is a half-hour episode of the ITC action/adventure series "Danger Man", starring Patrick McGoohan as John Drake. The episode was of particular interest due to sequences for the episode filmed in Portmeirion, many years prior to the making of "The Prisoner".
After this was another screening. Rarely seen 8mm behind-the-scenes footage of "The Prisoner" filming in Portmeirion in 1966. There were literally gasps from the audience at some of the sequences, and this led nicely into our next special guest interview. Robert Monks first visited Portmeirion professionally in 1958 to film for a BBC series called "Strange But True", and would return 8 years later for "Prisoner" filming where he was 2nd Unit Cameraman. At his first ever event, it would not be an understatement to describe Bob's interview as utterly enthralling from start to finish. From the filming of the opening sequence in London, to both the September 1966 and March 1967 Portmeirion location shoots, to work in the studios at MGM, Bob's memory was as fresh as if he had filmed the sequences only a week ago, and not 40 years previously.
One of the highlights was a big-screen PowerPoint presentation of Bob's own collection of stills taken during the "Prisoner" filming, which Bob narrated.
Bob narrates his presentation
These had laid dormant in Bob's attic since they were developed nearly 40 years ago. Bob's narration of each photograph was a true delight - we hope to have many of the images online in the near future, the following two being just a snippet.
Just as fascinating was hearing of Bob's recent project of restoring and cataloguing films made in Ireland, including items from the the 19th Century. Such was the sharpness of Bob's memory, and a seemingly endless catalogue of anecdotes and stories from the filming, interviewer Dave Jones summed things up when he said that "we've barely scratched the surface" when he drew the interview to a close, despite it over-running by 30 minutes.
Robert and Dave share a joke.
For me, the interview was not only one of the highlights of the day, but one of the highlights of my 23 years of "Prisoner" appreciation.
Bob and Dave get animated
It was then time for lunch, but not before the guests chatted and signed a few autographs. For me, one of the highlights of both this and last year's event was the way that the guests didn't just attend their own slots, but stayed for every interview and every screening, stopping only to talk to fans and to sign items.
Bob Monks (top) and Jane Merrow signing autographs
Whilst attendees wandered around Portmeirion and the various shops and cafes of the village, yours truly was joined by special guest Jane Merrow, event donator Steve Watson, and a local press photographer for some shots on the Gloriette (which would later make it into the Welsh press - full details HERE).
L-R: Jane Merrow, Rick Davy, Steve Watson
Jane Merrow poses for the press.
After a shorter than scheduled lunch break, it was time for our next screening. The 2nd part of Paul Smith's "Prisonbear" films, "Stalemate". This time, Paul Smith and Curly the bear introduced the film.
Paul Smith introduces "Stalemate"
With laughter at Paul's confession that he "made this film because I have too much time on my hands" speech still ringing round the hall, "Stalemate" was screened to equal applause and laughter as the first film was earlier. Will "Prisonbear"'s helicopter escape attempt prove futile? Well, I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it.
Prisonbear AKA Curly
Next up was the Prize Quiz. Thanks to donator Steve Watson, two prizes were up for grabs. A DVD of the McGoohan film "Dr Syn", and a rare VHS of the McGoohan/Kanner film "Kings and Desperate Men". The quiz challenged the audience to identify episodes and actors from "The Prisoner" and "Danger Man." The winners were Jane Rowe and Lesley Fishwick, scoring 19 out of 20 points.
Another screening followed, and what a rare treat it was! "The Man Out There" is a TV play which has never been released on Video or DVD, and not screened on TV since its original showing in 1961. As with all the events, the special guests sat enthralled, as did the attendees present, as McGoohan gave an electric performance as a doomed Russian cosmonaut aiding a Canadian mother by radio.
With pleasant weather outside still in place (how lucky we were that it didn't rain once during the day's events, being that it was raining in London and other parts of the UK for much of the weekend) it was time for the guided tour. With so many "Portmeirion virgins" attending the event, Howard Foy again gave an insightful and interesting walking tour of the village.
Tour guide Howard Foy.
Several attendees trooped back into the hall afterwards commenting on how they'd learnt something new during Howard's tour, and promptly purchased a copy of Howard's out-of-print book "A Guide to Portmeirion" from the merchandise stall. Apparently, even a wedding party detoured from their arrival to join the tour, along with a couple of day visitors.
Before welcoming our last guest on stage it was time to introduce our 6th and final screening. Whilst the content was questionable, the rarity and interest value was second to none. "The Adventures of Aggie" was a 1956 TV series centred around the antics of a travelling international fashion journalist. "Cock and Bull", the episode shown to the attendees, is the earliest known surviving TV appearance of one Patrick McGoohan. Overacting and poor scripting was the order of the day, as groans-a-plenty filled the hall. However, it was fascinating to see McGoohan in a comedic role as an Irish photographer, alongside Wilfred Brambell and others.
Jane Merrow is arguably the most popular of any of the actresses seen in "The Prisoner" or "Danger Man", and a packed hall, with standing room only, greeted her with tremendous applause as she joined Dave Jones on stage to talk about her life and career in the UK, and in Hollywood.
As Dave commented, she must have a photo of herself ageing in the attic as she looked as wonderful as she did the last time she was interviewed about "The Prisoner", some 13 years previously.
Jane Merrow and Dave Jones
Warm and interesting throughout, Jane reeled off anecdotes and stories regarding her four appearances alongside McGoohan, giving a fascinating insight into working with him, and the industry in general.
To illustrate her time on several ITC series, clips were shown of some of her performances on the big screen, before she moved on to talk about her work in the US, including her Golden Globe nominated performance in "The Lion in Winter" alongside Peter O Toole and Katherine Hepburn.
Jane Merrow watches herself.
Again with so many of the audience having questions of their own, the interview slightly over-ran - such was the wide range of Jane's work and her warmth at talking about her career.
Jane Merrow amused.
Jane was, simply, the nicest and most professional guest we could have had, not only from the perspective of the event but also from a personal perspective - I found her to be wonderful company throughout the weekend, as I did all the guests.
Robert Monks, Jane Merrow, Rob Fairclough
After a short break, it was time for fundraising activities - namely the raffle, and auction. Raffle tickets had been sold from this website prior to the event, and throughout the day, and due to several donations of prizes on the day, no less than 30 prizes were up for grabs, including several signed items, books, posters, exclusive artwork, videos, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, and much more.
Dave Jones and Rick Davy
16 very special items, however, had been reserved for the auction. The fact that many of the bidders were personal friends didn't detract from the excitement and directness of the bidding and auction, and over £600 was raised. Top sellers were a signed "Braveheart" script (£145), a signed Sir Clough autobiography (£105), and a Dinky Mini-Moke (£70).
Steve Watson with his Dinky Mini-moke.
A full list of auction items, and sale prices, can be found HERE.
Dave Jones and Rick Davy auctioneering
After a few "Thank-Yous", the day's official timetable had come to an end, leaving 90 minutes of socialising in the bar before the night was out.
Attendees mingle in the bar.
The following morning, those staying in Portmeirion accommodation had a further chance to chat with the guests over and after breakfast, with more anecdotes about the industry most forthcoming.
By mid-afternoon, the guests were on their way home, money was counted, bills were paid, and the charity total donation was finalised.
Rick Davy, Dave Lally, Robert Monks
We are proud to announce that the total profit* from PM2006, and therefore donated to Ty Gobaith, is £1045.09. We would like to thank everyone who attended and supported the event and helped to raise this magnificent total.
PM2006 - YOUR THOUGHTS
If you would like to tell us what you thought of the event, please email us and have your comments included here!
thought the conference was fantastic......Congratulations on such successful
charity fund raising."
for another great PM event. Already looking forward to next years."
Hall was packed but comfortable, the technical equipment was set up superbly,
with sound levels just right, and all the guests gave insightful and relaxed
Monks' recollections were detailed and plentiful, and Jane Merrow's attitude
to acting was highly professional, and delivered in a warm and friendly manner.
Having the interviews illustrated with a photo presentation and (in Jane's
case) clips of some of her ITC performances was the icing on the cake. A
perfect day. Can't fault it at all."
am writing from the village to let everyone know what they missed out on.
Good guests and a good laugh for a *good* cause. Thanks to Rick and the crew."
event was marvellous; everything ran smoothly and the guests were both informative
and entertaining. Use of a slideshow to illustrate Robert Monks' work during
his interview was very effective, as were the clips which illustrated Jane
Merrow's TV work. It
was great to see the expanded Lego exhibition courtesy of Dave Mackenzie,
and there were some rare items on offer on the stalls (I snapped up a 1960
PM guide book).I
must congratulate the organisers, the guests, and all who attended in making
this year's event a great success, and I hope we can have another next year!"
superb day of Prisoner, Portmeirion and bear(!) appreciation. The best part
of both this and last year's events
must be their friendly, laid-back atmosphere. *Everyone* was important and
made to feel part of the event. Robert
Monks, for whom I had the honour of showing his photos of the filming of Rover
amongst other things, was charming and gave a fascinating interview which
could have continued for much longer. Jane Merrow was lovely and also gave
us a marvellous insight into her work. A true professional and a very pleasant,
not to mention attractive, lady. Dave Jones and Rick Davy were on fine form
'up front' and are to be congratulated and thanked along with Roger Goodman,
of course, for all their hard work, as are all those who played a part in
it. I spent a lot of time this year asking people, including complete strangers
and newly-made acquaintances, if they had enjoyed it and everyone was most
and watching Prisonbear 1 & 2 on the big screen with an audience howling
with laughter was another highlight! I was also delighted to meet Curly himself.
A true star! A great
day and especially for Ty Gobaith children's hospice."
on a fine event. You should be very proud. I hope the feedback you're getting
reflects what a well-run get-together it was. Roll on PM2007!"
a quick line or two to say thanks for organising the event on Sunday. It was
good to meet everyone particularly
the excellent guest speakers. We`re sorry we had to leave early and miss Jane`s
interview. She really is such a lovely lady.
The boys enjoyed the event as well especially The Prisonbear. We`ll definitely
be back next year for the 40th anniversary. Portmeirion is stunning, real
Alice in Wonderland stuff."
am unqualified and wouldn't want to make any attempt to make any formal comment
on the day itself other than that it was the epitome of good well honed organisation,
excellent guest stars and a very receptive and appreciative audience, these
three factors all pulling in the same direction made this the perfect follow
up to the fledgling 2005 event. With over 100 attendees, the words informal
and enjoyable are the most expressive yet simplest words to express how things
went! Portmeirion were as always, genial hosts and are to be applauded for
their support of this fund raising event. Even the journey home was enjoyable!"
"I wanted to write to you straight away, to say thank you, and to tell
you how much I enjoyed PM 2006. I enjoyed it very much."
to say I really did enjoy PM2006 this year. Well organised, good atmosphere,
good guests, what more can I add?"
was a special day - thanks to everyone for arranging it."
I'm so pleased the event raised so much for
the hospice, it
was a fantastic event and a fantastic day, I really throughly enjoyed it.
Thanks to you and all involved for arranging such a great day, please DO have another next year."
JP, North Wales.
for the great day, we really enjoyed it. Well organised event and handled
with a light touch! Congrats to all involved."
"Just a few lines to say how much we enjoyed Sunday's bash..... We both
reckon it was because you got the mix right ; the different bits worked well
together rather than just solid Prisoner. After more than 20 years of Prisoner
appreciating I thought I had heard and seen most (if not all) of it but Robert
Monks was a great find - we could have sat and listened to him for the rest
of the day. Great P knowledge and a genuine love of film in general ; excellent
you for an utterly superb day. I would have loved to have spent the evening
just chatting away to Robert Monks and Jane Merrow.
It was a
very well organised event."
"Just to say that we had a great time yesterday - super guests, well-organised, and the hilarious Prisonbear spoof was inspired! It was also great to be able to stay until the end this time. Walking through the Village at dusk was also a wonderful experience. Glad you managed to raise such a lot of money for the charity, I think it was a grand day out for all concerned! Thanks to you and everyone else who was involved with organising the event."
on an excellent PM2006 event in Portmeirion. It was a fantastic day and it
was wonderful to meet old and new friends."
2005 was great, but PM 2006 was even better. A big thank you to all concerned
and I hope we can do it all again next year."
"I enjoyed the PM2006 day very much indeed. Thanks for all your efforts.
It was a real treat to see the Village again as it was a year ago for PM2005
when I last saw it! Must go there more often each year."
had a fantastic day, thanks so much for putting the convention on and making
us feel really welcome. Portmeirion is truly stunning and all the events were
really was a spectacular event, fabulous. We had a great time, it was an excellent
opportunity to hear from such superb guests and see some of the other Pat
McGoohan stuff too. "
C&C M, Yorks
was indeed a very enjoyable day! Robert Monks' memory was incredibly sharp,
and he gave many fascinating insights into the 1966 Portmeirion shoot. It
sounded like a very hectic month and it's a wonder the series was ever made
at all! Jane Merrow
was very professional throughout and spoke frankly about the hard reality
of working as an actress in the 1960's. When her showreel was being shown
she appeared to really appreciate her own work as much as the fans in the
audience. And she's a really lovely person, as well!"
really enjoyed the event and are looking forward to next years already!"
J&H M, North Wales
"I'm glad that the fundraising was such a success and it was nice to
see that not just ourselves but everybody else enjoyed the day too. One of
the highlghts was when we bumped into Robert monks while touring the village.
Robert gave us his time and an unexpected insight into the filming of the
prisoner ie; the places where the cameras would be set up,where different
sets would be in relation to the cameras and also answered a lot of our questions.
What a knowledgeable and nice man he is. It was also great to have Jane Merrow
with her experience in the tv and film industry. What that lady hasn't appeared
in isn't worth knowing, what a nice lady she is too. Once again Rick thanks
for putting on this event and we hope to see you next year."
DS, Cheshire, UK
is VERY professional in her approach to performance which explains why she
got on so well with PMG in Danger Man and The Prisoner. To hear from a cameraman
whose recollections of the details of filming was as good now as when he was
doing it was marvellous too. Also, hearing him talk about his recent work
rescuing and restoring early films was fascinating. Rob
Fairclough's ongoing ventures in publishing turn up interesting nuggets of
information along the way and to get a periodic update on these is a useful
plus. All in all
it was "just perfick"."
wanted to write to say thank you for all your hard work in bringing together
PM2006 (before, during and after). I was one of the doubting Thomases that
thought having another event so soon after last year's would be an anticlimax,
mainly as I thought last year's was so good it would be hard to top. How wrong
I was. I thought PM2006 was an excellent event and I had a wonderful time
- thanks. Robert Monks was a great font of kowledge and he had an endearing
way of telling anecdotes - I would have loved to have heard more, particularly
about his first meeting with Sir Clough in the late 1950s. Jane Merrow was
equally as good and her warmth came across to the audience. Both talks were
enhanced by the inclusion of photos and clips, well done for the forward planning
and preparation. I too thought the mix of the day was excellent I also thought
it said alot about our guests that they were interested to see the other interviews
and screenings. I am impressed by everyone's generosity - one day I will outbid
someone and win an item in the auction!"
"Just to say how much we enjoyed the weekend. It was obvious you had
put in a great deal of time and effort which really paid off. Nothing gets
done on its own and it all appeared to run smoothly with the guest interviews
being a particular highlight."
"Thanks for putting on a superb event!. We are looking forward to next
years event already. Pass on our thanks to all concerned.
Once again Congratulations on your efforts and time you put into a very successful and memorable event. You have our full support!"
"It was good to see you at PM2006. We had a great time. Well done."
R&L F, Lancs
"I had a wonderful time at the PM Con and the following week in the surrounding area. It was great to meet up with some old friends plus make a few new ones too in the wonderful Portmeirion estate. The guests on the Sunday were fascinating ,l was particularly impressed by the Robert Monks, what a memory ! You and your fellow organisers should be congratulated on providing such an entertaining and professonally run event not to mention the money made for the charity. I look forward in keen anticipation to PM 2007."
"Thanks for putting on the day's activities! We both enjoyed a great
line up of celeb interviewees and very enjoyable activities. The work that
went into making the day possible was much appreciated."
"Hope its not too late to thank you and others for organising PM2006, I really enjoyed it. As somebody else has commented I was impressed that the guest speakers joined in with all the events. I hope there is to be a PM2007."
were delighted to hear you have raised such an amazing amount for Ty Gobaith.
Ty Gobaith Children's Hospice.
"I had a wonderful time, it was lovely. Thank you."
you all for a really nice weekend. I did enjoy it and all the people and I
am so glad that you raised so much money for the Children's Hospice. Please
stay in touch and anything else I can do for the Charity, I would like to
do, very much."
"Once again, the event was a very well organised, relaxed, and informal occasion. It was a delight to feel so welcomed, and a delight to meet Bob and Jane, and a delight to spend time with a group of people who now feel like old friends. I only wish we could have stayed longer! Maybe next time......"
Several signed items, and items of merchandise left over from the event such as event programmes and DVDs, are still available for purchase - click HERE for more details.
Event organisers Rick Davy, Dave Jones, and Roger Goodman, would like to thank the following people for their help in making PM2006 such a success:
Jane Merrow, Robert Monks, and Robert and Rachel Fairclough for giving up their weekend to attend and support the event. Corina Tibbetts, Robin Llywelyn and the staff of Portmeirion for their help in staging the event and their hospitality and hard work on the day. Granada Media for official permission to screen items from their archive. Grant Taylor, Jaz Wiseman, Umbrella Entertainment, and The AV Channel for their kind permission to screen items from their DVDs. Eluned Yaxley of Hope House for allowing us to link up to the charity.
Simon Coward for obtaining screenings permission, Simon Wells for sourcing "Man Out There", and David Buck for sourcing "Aggie" . Jill Mills for running the merchandise and raffle stall. Sam Denham for additional guest liason, CH and his able assistant for running the sound levels on the day and providing equipment. Howard Foy for running the guided tour, David Mackenzie and Paul Smith for their displays (thanks also to Paul for his "Prisonbear" films). Giles Kendrick for filming the interviews, Alan Jones for running the laptop presentation. Kate Foy for helping on the door, Nigel Kitcher for designing and printing all the programmes free of charge, Mathew Lock for the programme cover, MAGTAG for the interior image, David Lawrence for his Clough article, and Lew Stringer for the cartoon. Peter Dunn for press liason. Dave Lally for escorting Mr Monks over from Ireland. Jane Rowe and Brian Watson for helping set up the hall and equipment. Ceri Jones and James Goldthorpe for going round the hall all day with the charity bucket, and Alan Jones, Nick Bennett, Henry Holland, Andrew White, Dave Lally, and Steve Watson for donations above and beyond the call of duty.
Dave Jones and Jane Merrow shrunk? No - charity collectors James and Ceri.
Auction items donated by: Rick Davy, Giles Kendrick, Adrian Hudson, Simon Morley, Simon Wells, George Baker, Peter Howell, Cathy Frumerman, Jill Mills, Steve Watson. Quiz Prizes donated by Steve Watson. Raffle Prizes donated by: Rick Davy, Lew Stringer, Michele Wilson, Leslie Glen, Dave Jones, Howard Foy, Steve Watson, MAGTAG, Adrian Hudson, David Mackenzie, Brian Watson.
*Full detailed financial accounts for PM2006 can be found HERE.
PM2006 was an independent event organised by The Unmutual Website and PrizBiz, with the kind permission of Portmeirion and Granada Media. The event had no involvement whatsoever from any Society or fan-club. Photos and text from this page may not be reproduced on any other website or in any publication without our expressed permission. Photos are © the individual photographers and The Unmutual Website 2006