Thursday, February 14, 2008

A bit of trivia about "The Prisoner"

When I was young, I was passionately fond of The Prisoner, a British TV show starring Patrick McGoohan. When my ex, I, and a couple of dear friends all romped off to England, I was determined to see the place where the show had been filmed.

The Prisoner was filmed at Portmeirion an odd but attractive resort in North Wales on the coast right near the town of Pennrhyndeudraeth. (It's very easy to say; give it a try!) Portmeirion was the brainchild of a noted architect and designer, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Patrick McGoohan was there often; he enjoyed getting away from the city and spending time there relaxing.

I was there in 1986 for an afternoon and it was delightfully strange to walk up and down the streets that I'd seen on the toob so often. The cottage that was #6's home is a Prisoner tourist shop. I bought an album of Prisoner soundtrack music done by Ron Grainer and a Prisoner t-shirt, which has the Ordinary logo on it. I fully expected to see Rovers bouncing slowly up the streets. All the interiors were done at Borham Wood studios, though, so #2's Green Dome (which was closed for repairs inside) is actually rather small.

To get to Pennrhyndeudraeth and Portmeirion, we drove across from Ruthin (on the Northeastern border of Wales) and then back again in a day. It was a longish drive, made worse by the fact that North Wales is what Tolkien used as his model for the worst parts of Mordor. It's all slate rubble, there are no trees, and the only natural vegetation is this ugly, scraggly orange weed. The towns are made of polished slate, so they're all black, too. It was misting, so everything looked blacker still, greasy, and unpleasant. What could have made it any worse? Well, as it happens, that was the very day that Chernobyl exploded, so we were being bathed in fallout and didn't know it. One day's difference and we would have missed it. Alas.

No comments: