"October 2012 Prisoner Weekend"
Review by Rick Davy. Photos by Rick Davy, Peter Preston, Stephen Preston, Leslie Glen.
October 2012 will go down in "Prisoner" history as yet another month where independently run events, with official sanctioning from ITV (who own the series) rather than unofficial events, gave fans a chance to appreciate the series without the need for membership or much cost, and a great time was had by all during the October 2012 Prisoner Weekend of events!
First up on the Friday was David Lally's always interesting tour of Borehamwood, which is not only stooped in film and TV history (as this was the location for a number of TV studios, including MGM where "The Prisoner" was made), but also includes many "Prisoner" locations (some of which are pictured below).
The trip also included a visit to the Elstree Heritage Museum, where "Prisoner" crew member Mick Brady and Elstree's Paul Welsh MBE were in attendance specially for the event.
The day concluded with a meal and drinks at the Toby Carvery in Borehamwood (which sits adjacent to where the "harmony" set was located) with Robert Hickey, who is the son of none other than the late Michael Hickey, sound recordist on "The Prisoner"!
Saturday morning saw the start of an always enjoyable day-long event, that of the Prisoner Mind mash! Expertly organised by Leslie Glen (below), the days' events included presentations, discussions, no less than 4 special guests, a prize raffle, screenings, and much more.
First up, as is usual at these events as he always gets the ball rolling in such an entertaining way, was Peter Dunn, who got the whole room involved in a surreal yet interesting discussion regarding how easy it would be to break Abu Hamza and Julien Essange if they were subject to the same treatments and methods that Number Six was subject to during the episodes of "The Prisoner".
First special guest of the day was Robert Fairclough, who is no stranger to fans of "The Prisoner" and "Danger Man" having written so many books and magazines over the years on the subject. Robert had with him a great collection of artwork he designed for producers AMC for the 2009 "Prisoner" remake and a whole host of great stories to tell about his researching of the series. It was such a shame that time was against us as Robert and I could have carried on talking for the remainder of the event! He was as always a great guest.
After a break for a hearty lunch, next up was 2nd special guest Dick Fiddy from the BFI who informed everyone of the work of the Institute and had an exciting announcement that a Patrick McGoohan retrospective was being planned which would include several screenings of rarely seen films and Tv appearances. Keep an eye out on The Unmutual Website for full details in due course!
I could have chatted to Dick for hours, he is always great company but yet again sadly time was pressing and it was time for the next part of the days' events.
Next up was a truly fascinating presentation and discussion from Gary Murfin, centred around the episode "The General". This was another highlight of the event and it is hoped, as Gary was pushed for time and had to cut the presentation in length, that gary will be on hand at future events to do this again.
Next up was a quick chat with Leslie Glen himself, who had a very special announcement to make! Leslie has a new and official book, "The Prisoner Interrogations", coming out this month! The first ever "Prisoner" quiz book!
It was then time for the last two special guests. Tessa and Brandon Parkes are the widow and son of "A Change of Mind" writer Roger parkes, and the audience sat enthralled as both remembered and talked about Roger and his work on the series (and others such as "Blakes 7" and "Strange Report"), before a special screening of Roger's episode, with kind permission from ITV and Network Distribution, was played to a hushed silence in the room.
Tessa and Brandon were wonderful guests and lovely company throughout the day.
Last up was a double-bill of entertainment from none other than historian, writer, and musician Simon Wells. After a terrific screening of out-takes from "Many Happy Returns", "The Chimes of Big Ben", and "The Girl Who Was Death" which Simon had brought along, out came the guitar and he treated the crowd to two special live and acoustic versions of "I helped Patrick McGoohan escape" and "All you need is love".
After a raffle draw with over 40 prizes, kindly donated by several of the attendees and organiser, it was time to head to the bar for an evening of catching up with friends far and wide and a count up of the total raised. In the end, £261.45 profit was made which has been donated to Ty Gobaith Hospice.
Thanks must go to Peter Dunn, Gary Murfin, Dick Fiddy, Robert Fairclough, Tessa and Brandon Parkes, and most of all Leslie Glen for organising such a terrific and enjoyable event.
Next morning it was a chance to attend another of Dave lally's wonderful location tours. Before the "Prisoner" tour during the afternoon, the morning would see the happy and sizeable band of attendees meeting at Victori Station for a tour of Cult TV locations, most notably Steed's flat in "The Avengers" and two "Danger Man" locations (below), namely the tower block from the opening titles and Drake's house.
After lunch, it was time for the second of 2012's London Location Walkabouts, and what a great turnout it was (unlike at a certain other tour which has recently been running, which requires membership fees to attend) and only attracted 7 people including the organisers) with more than two dozen folk braving the elements at Marble Arch.
As always, tour guide Dave Lally, a font of knowledge, led us all impeccably round the "Prisoner" sites of London.
Over 20 locations are visited from the series' opening sequence and the episodes "Many Happy Returns", "Do Not Forsake Me" and "Fall Out".
Despite the rainy weather, a fabulous time was had by all, including several folk on their very first tour!
An interesting discovery on the tour is that the Abingdon Street car park (where Number Six drives down to resign) has had new gates put on the front!
All in all, Dave's Sunday events had gone as successfully as the rest of the weekend and a great time was had by all, finishing as always at Number Six's London home at Buckingham Place before a trip on for food, drinks, and chat.
Click here to return to the main Unmutual Home Page