I was first exposed to the programme as a child in the 1980s. It was shown on the local station at lunchtimes on a Sunday and I required special dispensation from the family to take my Sunday lunch into the other room and watch.
Presumably the cost for ad-space on Westward TV during Sunday lunchtime was relatively low, and thus it attracted some low-budget, hyper-local adverts for the farming community. I can still remember one featuring a sturdy farmer, wielding a terrifying ‘bolus gun’ for administering medicine to cattle. Or the sheep dip which promised to banish “warbles, weevils and sarcoptic mange-mites”. It is a testament to the powerful psychological storytelling of The Prisoner that even these interstitial adverts remain lodged in my mind decades later.
I recently rewatched the series and it remains as compelling as ever, and McGoohan’s powerful performance inspired this portrait.
The themes of freedom, the dangers of surveillance and psychological coercion remain as relevant today as they did in the 60s.