The Unmutual Reviews: On the Trail of The Prisoner

A Walking Guide to Portmeirion's Prisoner Sites
by Catherine Németh Frumerman. 40pp full colour, softback £5.99. Review by Lew Stringer.

With the proliferation of Prisoner books over the past two years, it's excusable for fans to find it hard to keep up with them all. Yet to miss the chance of buying this book would be a mistake indeed. "On The Trail of The Prisoner: A Walking Guide to Portmeirion's Prisoner Sites" is an essential purchase for the many Prisoner fans who visit Portmeirion, or are intending to visit.

It's a slim volume at only 40 pages, but more pages would only be padding. Besides, it's a guide book, intended to be read as one walks through the village, and a lightweight format such as this is perfect for its purpose. That said, the book doesn't skimp on detail, and Catherine's writing style conveys a lot of information with lucidity and a friendly manner. In lesser hands, such a book could be dry and tedious, but here the descriptions carry the reader along effortlessly from one location to the next.

Importantly, the book also explains which Village scenes were filmed in the studio, and even gives reasons why, such as the scene where Number Six pretends to woo Nadia in the episode "The Chimes of Big Ben" , where studio filming was used because a nighttime scene at Portmeirion wouldnt lend itself to such subtle lighting. The book also explains the discrepancies in the geography of the Village to that of Portmeirion, such as where Number Six often walks from one location to another which would be impossible in the real village. It's such attention to detail that adds an extra bonus to the text.

One small drawback of the book is in the layout, where large areas of white space appear on some of the pages. Perhaps a light background image (a photograph in, say, a 10% blue) could have been used behind the main text and photographs to fill out the areas. Presumably the various areas of space occur because there is no formula picture size. However, the variety of the size of the photographs is a good idea, as a compromise to a standard grid format would spoil the books visual beauty. Its large full colour images have a sharp clarity, and are expertly photographed by Bruce Frumerman.

If the text and original photographs weren't worth the cover price alone (which they surely are) the book has something else to set Prisoner fans drooling. Several full page photographs taken during location filming of the series.

In all, "On the Trail of The Prisoner" is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any aficionado of The Prisoner and/or Portmeirion, and, like the real village itself, is full of fascination.

Exclusively available from The Prisoner Shop, Portmeirion, or from the publisher at

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