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Village to stage top grade play about Number Six.

IT WAS the cult Sixties television show that intrigued and enthralled a generation of viewers.

The Prisoner ran for 17 episodes from 1967 to 1968 and was filmed in Portmeirion, the Italianate resort designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the 1920s.

Now, a new play charting the turbulent relationship during the enigmatic series between actor Patrick McGoohan and media mogul Lew Grade will be performed at Portmeirion for the first time.

Magic Number Six, written by Leicester writer Paul Gosling, will play at Portmeirion, Gwynedd, on March 16 this year during the annual convention of the Prisoner Appreciation Society, known as Six of One.

The play will also be staged at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in August.

The original series followed the fortunes of a former British secret agent who was kidnapped by an unknown enemy and taken to an unnamed village where inmates are numbered but not named.

Patrick McGoohan, who died aged 80 in 2009, co-wrote the original script and played the main character - known only as prisoner Number Six.

He found himself in a constant intellectual and emotional struggle with his captor, Number Two, played by different actors including Leo McKern.

Mr Gosling said: "I am from the generation who first saw The Prisoner in the 1980s on Channel 4, we were the first generation to be able to video-tape the show and it had a big impact on me.

"I revisited the show when it was released on DVD and ITV4 also reshowed it in recent years and I'd always kept the series in my mind.

"I am also a fan of other shows of that era such as the Supermarionation series (Thunderbirds, etc) by Gerry Anderson, and The Avengers and The Saint, so I felt that there was a social crossover between these shows and wanted to cover that.

"So although the play will appeal to The Prisoner and Patrick McGoohan fans, it will hopefully appeal to fans of all those types of shows."

McGoohan is thought to have been inspired to co-write The Prisoner partly from his earlier Danger Man series in which he played spy John Drake. In an episode called Colony Three, Drake infiltrates a spy school in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The school is built like a normal English town in which pupils and instructors mix as normal but the instructors are virtual prisoners.

McGoohan told Grade during the making of Danger Man, (Grade was then-chairman of ITC Entertainment which made the show) that he wanted to quit the series. Grade was unhappy but McGoohan later pitched The Prisoner.

Mr Gosling said: "The play is about Patrick's relationship with Lew Grade before, during and after the making of The Prisoner.

"It started out very well and they really liked each other, but soon got sour.

"It's all set in Lew's office and it's pretty minimal. There are three characters, Patrick, Lew and Lew's secretary, Sandra."

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Patrick McGoohan starred as The Prisoner set in the North Wales resort of Portmeirion, below
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 14, 2013
Words:503
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