The 1960s sci-fi phenomenon, The Prisoner TV series, looks to be headed back to the small screen in 2009. AMC and British network ITV is re-making the cult show into a six-part mini-series that will begin shooting later this summer.
Patrick McGoohan co-created the original Prisoner series, directed it, and starred in it as well. The show centers on the imprisonment of a resigned British secret agent (McGoohan) in a seemingly serene and beautiful village of unknown location. The captive agent, renamed Number Six (all prisoners in the village are numbered), is constantly interrogated, manipulated and tormented by sinister figures known only as Number Two. In addition to being a psychological thriller that was way ahead of its time, The Prisoner demonstrated a number of political metaphors for the corruption of power, struggles for freedom, and the enslavement of the masses by commercial/political interests.
UK’s Sky One and AMC initially planned the new Prisoner project but Sky One dropped out over casting disagreements. ITV has since stepped in and the companies are reportedly spending $1 million per hour-long episode. Sir Ian McKellen will take on the role of the evil Number Two and James Caviezel will play persecuted Number Six. It’s rumored that McGoohan may have a cameo in the remake as well.
Charlie Collier, AMC’s general manager, relayed, “Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen bring an incredible level of talent to the project, and we’re honored they are taking on these important roles. We look forward to this production revitalizing a classic and bringing Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant and captivating story to an entirely new generation of viewers.”
The mini-series is being written by Bill Gallagher who will also executive produce along with Michele Buck, Damien Timmer, Rebecca Keane, and AMC’s Charlie Collier, Christina Wayne and Vlad Wolynetz. McKellan commented, “Bill Gallagher’s new version of The Prisoner is an enthralling commentary on modern culture. It is witty, intelligent and disturbing. I am very excited to be involved.”
AMC’s Wayne says that the new Prisoner will pay homage to the original series but that the mini-series will stand on its own. She said, “There will be nods and winks and references back to the original, but I don’t think that they’ll feel in any way that their original has been tarnished. Even though this would fall under sci-fi traditionally, this is a drama at its core.”
There’s no word as yet if the mini-series will return to Portmeirion Village, the Italianate-style Welsh town that was made famous as the location of the Village in the 1960s series. If needed, it seems local officials would welcome the return of Number Six. Representative Robin Llywelyn says, “The Prisoner is an important part of Portmeirion’s heritage and we are proud to be associated with the series… It brought the village to a wider audience and has brought people to Portmeirion who would never otherwise have heard of the place.”
Fans have been teased by rumors of a new Prisoner project for a dozen years now. This new mini-series certainly has big shoes to fill and a legion of fans waiting to see if it does just that. Stay tuned!