NOT A NUMBER
A PATRICK McGOOHAN RETROSPECTIVE

SPECIAL REPORT


A special celebration at Elstree Studios, Saturday June 23rd 2018
, In aid of Ty Gobaith Children's Hospice.
Organised by The Unmutual Website and Quoit Media Limited.

Report by Rick Davy.

Photographs by Alys Hayes, Stephen Pasqua, Jo White.

Following the success of the Fifty Years of The Prisoner event in January 2018, it was a delight for The Unmutual Website and Quoit Media Limited to again come together, this time to celebrate not only The Prisoner, but the entire career of Patrick McGoohan.

With approval from Patrick's family in California secured, the venue and guests were booked, screenings permission obtained, and so Saturday June 23rd 2018 saw the iconic Elstree Studios, where Patrick filmed one of his first move roles, The Dam Busters, come alive once again, as over 150 people took their seats.

Even prior to guests and attendees taking their seats, there were attractions outside, and thanks must go to Paul White and Rennie Chivers for providing their wonderful Prisoner vehicles.

Once inside, even more 'static delights' awaited attendees, largely thanks to Steven Ricks (and others), who once again provided their private collection of original costumes, props, and memorabilia, not only from The Prisoner and Danger Man, but also from the myriad of McGoohan movies that we were at Elstree to celebrate. For me, this is one of the highlights of these events, as it is no exaggeration to say that these are the only occasions that these incredible collections are going to be viewable.

It was then time for the audience to take their seats for the show opening. A wonderful video montage of almost every existing Patrick McGoohan appearance, from 1955 to 2008, superbly edited by David Mackenzie. We were then treated to two 'audio feasts', with first Fenella Fielding's unmistakable tones welcoming everyone to the event and telling them what was in store for later in the evening, and then a lovely heartfelt message from Catherine McGoohan, thanking everyone for attending, highlighting the charity, and talking about her father.

A short film was also played of popular actress Susan Hampshire thanking everyone for coming, and again especially highlighting Hope House (Ty Gobaith) who will ultimately benefit from everyone's attendance at these events. Then came the announcement that for various reasons, my co-hosts Dave Jones, and Morris Bright MBE (chairman of Elsree Studios) were unable to attend, and that I would be hosting the evening, and all the Q&As, myself.

After introducing all the guests (plus folk representing departed family members, such as Elaine Spooner (daughter of Dennis) and Robert Hickey (son of Prisoner sound recordist Mickey Hickey)), it was time for one of them to take the stage.

Alvin Rakoff is a two-time Emmy award winer, and one of the World's most respected directors. It was a delight to chat to him about his career, including of course working with Patrick McGoohan on the 1991 TV movie Best of Friends. It was an emotional interview, with Rakoff close to tears as he recalled McGoohan astounding him so much with his acting, in a scene with Wendy Hiller, that he could not bring himself to say 'Cut!', such was the emotion that the scene had awakened within the director.

As with all of the guests, the interview slot passed by far too quickly, and we could have dedicated a whole event to Alvin alone.

Next up was the first of the special screenings created for the event. Archive footage of actor Peter Sallis (thanks to Steven Ricks for the footage, from his Brand documentary All or Nothing) discussing working on stage with McGoohan. It was the first of three vignettes, under the umbrella title of 'McGoohan Memories', created for the event.

Next up on stage was one of my favourite actresses, the lovely Jane Merrow, who readers will recognise from countless shows and movies, but particularly her roles opposite Patrick McGoohan in three episodes of Danger Man and in The Schizoid Man episode of The Prisoner. Jane always talks very positively about working with Patrick, and this evening was no exception. 'He might not let you in to his private life, but he would always let you in as an actor, and that's why it was so great to work with him' recalled Jane.

 

All the guest Q&As finished with questions from the audience, and Jane was a delight to chat to about her career, and of working with McGoohan.

Next up was another very popular actress Vera Day, star of the movie Hell Drivers among others. She recalled how the movie was great fun to work on, with a fabulous cast, but that Patrick did not partake of the 'off screen fun', so dedicated he was to getting the role correct. It was lovely chatting to Vera about making films during that 'golden era'.

Then came the next vignette, a specially recorded interview with Fenella Fielding, who recalled meeting McGoohan for Danger Man and providing the Village Voice for The Prisoner.

Next up, before an interval break where people could marvel at the displays on offer, as well as get books and photographs signed by the special guests, was journalist Howard Foy, who explained to the audience how it came about that he, in 1990, interviewed Patrick McGoohan at the NEC (an interview which is now available on CD, HERE).

After the interval, time for a very special screening. In 1955, Patrick McGoohan guest-starred in a Danziger-produced series entitled The Vise. The episode was called A Gift from Heaven and featured a rare on-screen kiss (more than one, as it happens) from the actor. Only screened publicly twice since initial broadcast, and unreleased on video and DVD, we are indebted to H Kruger Rights Limited for permission to screen this item.

Next to take the stage, briefly on this occasion, was Prisoner film librarian Tony Sloman, who recounted a nice story from Christmas 1966. He was joined, from the audience, by Prisoner editor and writer Ian L Rakoff, who recounted his initial interview with Patrick McGoohan. Fascinating from them both, as always, following their appearances at the Fifty Years of The Prisoner event in January.

Next up was the third and final vignette of the evening, a specially recorded interview between myself and Susan Hampshire, who talked delightfully about working with McGoohan on Danger Man and The Three Lives of Thomasina.

Next up was director John Hough, who it was a true delight to interview on stage, he being responsible for directing some of my favourite movies and TV shows (The Champions, The Avengers, Watcher in the Woods, Biggles). It was fascinating to hear how, on the McGoohan-starring movie Brass Target which John made in Germany in the 1970s, Patrick and co-star John Cassavettes' scenes were often ad-libbed by John, exciting McGoohan in the process.

John again could have talked all night, and we barely scratched the surface of his incredible career.

After one last screening, a clip from the unreleased episode Cock and Bull of The Adventures of Aggie TV series from 1955, co-starring Patrick McGoohan and Wilfred Bramball, it was time for another guest.

Last, but by no means least, director Alex Cox joined me on stage for a fascinating interview about his respect for Patrick McGoohan. He, quite rightly, illustrated the point that no matter how weak a film overall is, McGoohan always makes it better, and steals the scenes he is in. Chat also turned to women within The Prisoner and his book, I am Not a Number. Following robust questionning from some audience members, a discussion ensued regarding the McGoohan movie Ice Station Zebra before it was sadly time, again too soon, to draw the interview to a close.


Rick with Elaine Spooner, and her husband Phil Higgs.


L-R John Hough, Alex Cox, Rick Davy, Tony Sloman.

It was a wonderful evening and my thanks must go to all the special guests, all of whom attended free of charge, everyone who helped organise the event and look after everything during the evening (too many to thank here), and everyone who bought tickets and attended/supported the event.

A professional three-HD-camera-strong film crew were commissioned to film the event, so a DVD will be available for purchase later in the year.

Next up for TUW and Quoit at Elstree?

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YOUR THOUGHTS

If you would like to tell TUW what you thought of the event, please email TUW and have your comments included here!

"It was an excellent evening, thank you for looking after us."
Tony Sloman

"You put on an excellent event and I enjoyed it very much."
Jane Merrow

"Thank you for inviting us, we both had a lovely time and we would be delighted to come in November. We were well looked after as we have been at both of your events and we appreciate that very much. You handled the evening very well. Look forward to seeing you again."
The Hough Family

"I really enjoyed it. You're a very good interviewer, Rick."
Vera Day

"I had a wonderful time and very much enjoyed all the contributions. Looking forward to seeing you again, and thanks for keeping the McGoohan spirit alive."
Alex Cox

"Excellent event last night."
Ian L Rakoff

"The best Prisoner event I have ever been to."
Steven Paul Davies

"Great show and well done for organising and the interviewing technique!"

"Had a great time and the event was well put together and presented. Your McGoohan events are always a joy to attend!"

"Congratulations on a wonderful evening of Patrick McGoohan reminisces with your special guests. You pulled out all the stops and it was well worth travelling down from Scotland to attend your magnificent event. What a lot of effort you put into it! The children's hospice will be delighted. Many congratulations."

"We had a great time at the event last night, congratulations on another fun evening!"

"Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the event which was very well presented by yourself. So much so that I couldn't believe how quickly the time went - "time flies when..." It was good to hear the views of both people who have acted alongside Patrick as well as those behind the cameras. Also, I must congratulate you on the fund-raising for the children's hospice. I take special needs children to school and received some very sad news only last week that a child that I once transported to and from school had passed away. So I took your advice and put an extra donation in the bucket in his name. Keep up the excellent work and I'll see you in November at the ITC event."

"Brilliant evening, thank you."

"I just want to say a very big thanks for the recent Patrick McGoohan event it was most enjoyable".

 

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