UNMUTUAL WEBSITE - VILLAGE PEOPLE
CAST & CREW PROFILES
PETER SWANWICK - THE SUPERVISOR. Profile by Howard Foy.
steely eyes and bald head of Peter Swanwick are as much a fixture of the Village
as the Butler or Rover. Like little Angelo Muscat,
we are introduced to Peter's distinctive profile early on in "Arrival"
and he is still "supervising" as "Once Upon A Time" gives
way to "Fall Out". It is perhaps surprising, therefore, to reflect
that he only appears in nine of the 17 episodes and is one of eight people seen
occupying the supervisory role (in five episodes, no supervisor is seen at all).
Despite this, most viewers will agree that it is Peter's brooding menace that
personifies the evil machinations of the Village heirarchy in their desparate
attempts to break their illustrious prisoner. Watching "Arrival" for
the first time, few people can fail to be chilled by his words: "Now approaching
. . . contact imminent ... orange alert ..." as Rover is sent in pursuit
of No. 6 in the Mini Moke. We might not understand what Rover is, but one thing
seems clear - the Supervisor controls this deadly beast.
Sadly, like Angelo, Peter Swanwick is no longer with us. He died from a heart complaint in November 1968, just nine months after "Fall Out" was screened for the first time in Britain. He was 46. Born in Nottingham, in 1922, Peter's interest in acting dates back to the end of the Second World War. As a soldier, he was one of the first to land in Normandy during the D-Day invasion in 1944. He was wounded, and spent many months in hospital. Following his recovery, he started his career as a stagehand at the Nottingham Playhouse, and then spent two years with a repertory company, the Argosy Players, at the Palace Theatre in Mansfield. It was there he met his wife, Nellie. The couple married in 1950 and moved to London as more acting work came his way. His first film role was in "Lili Marlene", and he also appeared in "Old Mother Riley", "Albert RN", "Operation Amsterdam", "Colditz" and "The African Queen". He was much in demand to play German roles in war films.
Peter also made frequent appearances on the London stage, including two musicals, "Can Can" and the West End version of "The Sound of Music". He appeared in every performance of the latter - even though he had to hobble on stage on sticks for the very last night after breaking a bone in his foot. Shortly after this, he started work on "The Prisoner". Interestingly, amongst his other TV work, Peter had the distinction of being the very first person to appear in "Danger Man" - he was murdered in the first few frames of the first episode, "The Key". In "The Prisoner", we see Peter - like the other Supervisors - mostly in the underground control room with its monitor screens and strange see-saw device, but he also has access to the Green Dome. He maintains his unsmiling, heartless demeanour to the very end, sneering at the prone figure of No. 2 in "Once Upon A Time": "We shall need the body for evidence". Ultra-loyal to the Village administration, it is the Supervisor's job to lead No. 6 into the "Fall Out" chamber on the first stage of his journey to meet No. 1. As he presents the Prisoner to the President, we see him don a cloak and mask and take his place with all the other faceless figures of the Village administration. His seat is marked "Identification" - although the meaning seems unclear. Earlier on in the series, we have seen that he wears badge No. 28, which is clear no indication of his status in tt Village. Ironically, he can no longer be identified as the proceedings of the assembly unfold, and presumably, his character is destroyed in the carnage which precedes No. 6's final escape.
In 1985, Peter's widow Nellie wrote: "Peter would have been proud to think that people are still interested in his career after all these years......He said at the time the series was made that it was far before its time and that people would not understand what The Prisoner was trying to say - but that in 20 years' time it would have more impact. It seems he was right."
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