"The Chimes of Big Ben"
"The Chimes of Big Ben"
The man whom we will call "the Prisoner" resigns and is gassed exactly as before. He wakes up in the Village.
The following conversation accompanies a miscellany of images.
Prisoner: Where am I?
Number 2's spherical chair rises from the floor.
Number 2: In the Village.
Prisoner: What do you want?
Number 2: Information.
The newly arrived Prisoner explores the Village.
Prisoner: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want information.
The Prisoner is running frantically along the beach.
Number 2: Information... Information...
Prisoner: You won't get it.
A bubble rises through water. Ahead of the Prisoner there looms a huge white whining ball. Number 2 watches the coloured bubbles on his screen.
Number 2: By hook or by crook...
He faces us in his chair, and the reverb drops completely.
Number 2: ... we will.
This Number 2 is a plumpish man with a dark beard.
His screen shows the Prisoner being chased through the water by the huge white ball. It knocks him down and rolls on past him.
Prisoner: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Prisoner: Who is Number 1?
We see the Control Room with its rotating seesaw of observers.
Number 2: You are Number 6.
Alone on the beach under a gloomy sky, the Prisoner punches the air in fury.
Prisoner: I am not a number. I am a free man!
Number 2's deranged laughter echoes away.
The Village awakes to a two-note jingle from the ubiquitous loudspeakers.
Speaker: Good morning, good morning, good morning! And what a lovely day it is. Rise and shine, rise and shine.
We zoom down onto the Prisoner's cottage. He is asleep in bed. The woman's cheerful voice forces him to stir.
Speaker: Before our programme of early-morning music, here are two announcements.
He gives the speaker on his shelf a quick irritated stare...
Speaker: The long-range weather forecast is that the fine spell will continue for at least another month.
... then turns over and tries to go back to sleep.
Speaker: Your local council, and remember it is your local council, democratically elected by you, has decided to organize a great new competition.
He gives up, now alert to the broadcast.
Speaker: Can you paint? Can you draw? Can you model in clay? If you can, then your day is just six weeks today.
The Prisoner gets up, takes his dressing gown from the end of his bed and flicks it like a whip.
Speaker: More about it later, but now music.
Number 2 is watching from his spherical chair, evidently impressed.
Number 2: He can make even the act of putting on his dressing gown appear as an act of defiance.
The Labour Exchange Manager is there with him.
Manager: There are methods we haven't used yet, of course.
Number 2 stands.
Number 2: I want him with a whole heart, body and soul...
The Prisoner, wearing his dressing gown, goes to his kitchen and opens his fridge. Horrible syrupy music fills the room. He takes out the milk.
Number 2 already has his cup of tea.
Manager: He'll crack.
Number 2: Perhaps. One tiny piece at a time? I don't want a man of fragments!
The Prisoner cannot concentrate on making his breakfast because of the music. He stares and stares at the speaker, eventually picking it up and shutting it in the fridge. The music is completely silenced. The Prisoner starts to whistle as he returns to his breakfast preparations.
Number 2: Fascinating.
Manager: He doesn't even bend a little.
Number 2: That's why he'll break. It only needs one small thing. If he will answer one simple question, the rest will follow. Why did he resign?
The Prisoner is on his way through the Village. In his circular room, Number 2 is still watching. He presses a switch, walks round behind his desk and picks up an L-shaped phone.
Number 2: Control Room.
The bald Supervisor answers.
Number 2: Have you picked up the helicopter yet?
Supervisor: I think it's just in range...
He moves over to look.
Supervisor: Yes, she's on the radar now.
At Number 2's end of the line:
Supervisor: Do you want me to make radio contact?
Number 2: No, but tell me when it's due. I want to meet it.
The Prisoner watches it flying in behind him. He is sitting on the terrace, playing chess with a gruff-voiced retired General.
General: Your move, young man.
Prisoner: ... Yes.
He makes a move.
General: Oh, you know what I think I'll do?
General: No, that announcement this morning. Exhibition of arts and crafts.
He picks up one of the chessmen.
General: These aren't all they might be, you know. I think I'll make a chess set. Used to be quite a handyman once. Are you entering?
General: You're a fool, Number 6, that's my opinion.
Prisoner: ... Really?
The helicopter flies in to land. The Prisoner continues making moves on the chessboard.
General: You'll be here as long as you live.
Prisoner: However long that is.
General: Might as well try to settle down, no point in being uncooperative.
Prisoner: Was there ever a time when you... were not... cooperative?
General: No point in fighting battles you can't win.
Prisoner: Perhaps you came here of your own free will.
General: Oh, impudent too, huh? Wish I'd had you in my regiment for a few months.
Prisoner: Which regiment was that? Which army?
The General looks completely taken aback.
The helicopter touches down, as Number 2 approaches their table.
Number 2: Good morning, General!
The General, who was leaving anyway, merely nods his head back in annoyance.
Number 2: The General seems a little sour.
Prisoner: Mate in seven moves.
He is still moving the pieces. Number 2 sits down opposite him, fascinated.
Number 2: Oh...! How many do you know?
Prisoner: A few more.
Number 2: We must play some time.
An ambulance pulls up alongside the helicopter, whose blades are still rotating.
Prisoner: Certainly we must. By post.
He gets up to investigate. Number 2 emits a booming laugh. The butler is standing there with his umbrella.
Number 2: I must add "sense of humour" to your file. They tend to leave out things like that. Very important.
An unconscious woman is carried from the helicopter on a stretcher.
Prisoner: What crime did she commit?
Number 2: Nervous tension, that's all. She's come here to recuperate.
Prisoner: How much are you charging her?
Number 2 laughs again.
Number 2: I really must bring your file up to date.
In Number 2's circular room, a file containing a photograph of the Prisoner lies open on the desk. The screen on the wall shows huge orange bubbles oozing around.
Number 2: Sit down my dear chap.
Prisoner: Thank you.
He perches on the edge of the desk. Number 2 presses a switch with the tip of his umbrella and a round table rises from the floor. The butler proceeds to serve morning tea.
Number 2: File number 6, section 42, subsection 6, paragraph 3. Add: "Sense of humour strong and unimpaired".
He presses the switch again, then addresses the butler coldly.
Number 2: Thank you. That will be all.
The butler nods and takes the empty trolley away. Number 2 is jovial again.
Number 2: I can never remember -- one lump or two?
Prisoner: It's in the file.
Number 2: Yes, as a matter of fact, yes. But it would save time if you just answered.
Prisoner: Why? Are you running out of time?
Number 2 looks in the file.
Number 2: "Does not take sugar".
Number 2: Frightened of putting on weight?
Prisoner: No. Nor of being reduced.
Number 2: Oh, that's excellent. I am glad you're here. You really are a model.
Prisoner: But I don't run on clockwork.
Number 2: You will... my dear chap... you will.
He hands the Prisoner a cup of tea.
Prisoner: Do you think so?
Number 2: Do you still think you can escape, Number 6?
Prisoner: Oh, I'm going to do better than that.
Number 2: Oh?
Prisoner: Going to escape and come back.
Number 2: Come back?
Prisoner: Escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the earth, obliterate it, and you with it.
He stands up, looking satisfied, and pours himself another cup of tea.
Number 2: Ah... Subsection 6, paragraph 4. Add: "On the other hand, persecution complex amounting to mania. Paranoid delusions of grandeur."
The Prisoner drops three lumps of sugar into his tea. Number 2 leans back into the depths of his spherical chair.
Number 2: Don't worry, Number 6. You'll be cured. I'll see to it. No more nightmares. If you have so much as a bad dream, you will come whimpering to tell it to me. Whimpering.
The Prisoner sips his tea contentedly.
Number 2: Watch. Just watch.
The big screen shows an empty stretcher being carried from a house with the sign "8, Private".
Inside, the previously unconscious woman is stirring on her bed.
Number 2: She's your new neighbour, that's all. I thought you might be interested. The new Number 8.
Prisoner: What happened to the old one?
Number 2: Well, he vacated the premises. You noticed surely.
Prisoner: Did he escape?
This makes Number 2 laugh.
Prisoner: There was no funeral.
Number 2: It's not always possible. You need a body. Oh look, she's getting up. It's quite like old times, isn't it, Number 6? Do you remember your first day?
On the screen, Number 8 rubs her head.
Number 8: Oh, thank God I'm home...
Number 2: An exact replica of her own room, of course.
Prisoner: Of course.
Number 8 stands up and walks a little stiffly. Suddenly she notices the view through the window. Number 2 roars with laughter and reaches for a phone.
Number 2: Ah, Number 8, please.
The phone in Number 8's house bleeps loudly and repeatedly, just as the Prisoner's phone did before. They watch her jump at the noise, and then slowly make her way to the phone. Her voice is a whisper when she answers.
Number 8: Hello?
Number 2: Good morning. Quite recovered? No ill effects from the journey, I trust.
Number 8: Who is it? ... Where am I?
Number 2: There's nothing to be afraid of, my dear. Come and have lunch with me: Number 2, the Green Dome.
And he hangs up.
Number 8: Hello?
Number 2: A most pleasant addition.
Number 8: Hello?
Number 2: I'm sure you'll agree.
Number 8: Hello?
She jiggles the receiver-rest in desperation.
Number 2: I trust you'll be neighbourly.
The Prisoner is walking towards the door. He turns slowly. Number 2 leans forward.
Number 2: I'll do a deal with you, Number 6. You tell me one thing and I'll release you. Why did you resign?
Prisoner: Release me? From the Village...
Number 2: Mhm. That's really all we want to know. Now that's not much to ask, is it?
The Prisoner knocks lightly on the metal doors which bar his way.
Number 2: If you insist on staying here, I do hope you make some attempt to settle down! Try to take part in community life. This exhibition that's coming up for example. Wait a minute...
He grabs the Prisoner's file and searches through it rapidly.
Number 2: There! "At the age of fifteen, top of his class in woodwork." That's the sort of thing I mean -- join in!
Prisoner: I'll make you a handle for this door...
Number 2 guffaws as the doors open. The Prisoner strides away. Number 2 shouts after him.
Number 2: You'll be back!
The doors slide shut.
Number 2: ... Whimpering.
Outside, and the loudspeakers chime into life.
Speaker: Good morning again! Further news of the exhibition of arts and crafts. Your Finance Committee has decided on the prizes to be awarded. There will be five prizes according to age group, but the exhibit judged to be the best of any group will receive a special prize of two thousand free work units...
The Prisoner leaves Number 2's house and is heading for his own cottage when Number 8 calls to him.
Number 8: Excuse me... Could you please tell me where "Number 2, The Green Dome" is?
Prisoner: Oh yes, certainly. Across the square, across the street, up the steps, you can't miss it.
Speaker: ... Two thousand free work units...
Number 8: I know it sounds crazy, but...
Number 8: ... I don't know where I am.
Prisoner: ... In the Village.
A colourfully dressed couple pass by, giving the Prisoner the "Be seeing you" gesture.
Couple: Lovely day!
Prisoner: Be seeing you.
Number 8 comes to stand next to the Prisoner.
Number 8: That sounds like a salute.
Prisoner: It is.
Number 8: Could you take me over there, please?
Prisoner: To the Green Dome? Yes, certainly. Across the square, across the street, up the steps, you can't miss it.
They set off. They pass a canopied taxi in the street.
Number 8: Can you get a car here?
Prisoner: Taxis. Local service only.
Number 8: Where will they take you?
Prisoner: Anywhere you like, as long as you arrive back here in the end. That's why they're called local.
Another couple pass.
Number 8: Who are these people? Why are they here?
Prisoner: Why are you?
He starts climbing the steps to the Green Dome. She follows him, as a musical taxi horn blares in the distance. They reach the door marked "2".
Prisoner: Here you are. The Green Dome.
Number 8: Who is Number 2?
Prisoner: Who is Number 1?
The door opens automatically. Number 8 gasps.
Number 8: Oh, I'm frightened.
Number 8: I've done nothing wrong. I've committed no crime. All I did was resign.
Prisoner: No use telling me.
He smiles and leaves. She steps nervously inside.
Afternoon has turned to evening by the time Number 8 returns to her new home. The Prisoner hails her from outside his own cottage.
Prisoner: Good evening!
Prisoner: That's a long lunch.
Number 8: Yes.
Number 8: "Nightcap"?
She approaches, and they go inside the Prisoner's cottage. She looks around. Pleasant soothing music is playing somewhere.
Prisoner: There's one good thing about this place. At least it's cheap. Genuine, non-alcoholic whisky, twenty-four work units. Or would you prefer a genuine, non-alcoholic vodka -- sixteen work units? I hope there's nothing significant in that.
Number 8: Yes, I would prefer it, Mr...
Prisoner: Er, sorry, no name. I am Number 6. You are Number 8.
Number 8: I didn't think it would be like this.
The Prisoner joins her by the fireplace and gives her a vodka.
Prisoner: Are you, um... are you Russian?
Number 8: Estonian.
Number 8: I don't think so.
Prisoner: You speak very good English.
Number 8: It was my job.
Prisoner: From which you resigned.
She is about to drink, but stops and looks carefully at the Prisoner.
Number 8: Number 2 is a very charming man.
Number 8: I would expect his assistant to be the same.
Prisoner: Do you mean me? What about you... Number 8?
She glares at him.
Number 8: I am no Number 8 or Number anything else. My name is Nadia Rakowski, and I've been interrogated enough for one day. Goodnight!
She storms out. The Prisoner brings his hand to his eye and down again.
Prisoner: Be seeing you...
The next day Number 8, dressed in sunglasses and beach robe, visits the beach. As she sits down on the sand, the Prisoner observes her from his table on the terrace above. She knows he's there. Number 2 approaches.
Number 2: May I join you?
The Prisoner gestures for him to sit down. Number 2 leans his shooting-stick against the table and sits.
Number 2: You're, er, good neighbours, I hope?
The Prisoner looks down at her again.
Number 2: There are some people who talk and some people who don't. Which means that there are some people who leave this place, and some who do not leave. You are obviously staying.
The Prisoner catches Number 8's eye.
Prisoner: Has it ever occurred to you that you're just as much a prisoner as I am?
Number 2: Oh, my dear chap, of course, I know too much. We're both lifers. I am definitely an optimist, that's why it doesn't matter who Number 1 is. It doesn't matter which "side" runs the Village.
During this, the Prisoner looks down at Number 8 again. She breaks his eye contact by standing up and wandering down to the shore.
Prisoner: It's run by one side or the other.
Number 2: Oh certainly, but both sides are becoming identical. What in fact has been created? An international community.
Number 8 removes her sunglasses.
Number 2: A perfect blueprint for world order.
She removes her beach robe, revealing a swimsuit (with a circular Number 8 badge), and wades rapidly out into the water. Number 2 seems too busy talking to notice.
Number 2: When the sides facing each other suddenly realize that they're looking into a mirror, they will see that this is the pattern for the future.
Prisoner: The whole earth as the Village.
Number 2: Yes. That is my hope. What's yours?
Prisoner: I'd like to be the first man on the moon.
They chuckle together as Number 8 starts to swim. Number 2 spots her and becomes more serious.
Number 2: Well, must go. Delightful chat. Thank you, Number 6.
He gets up and walks away. Number 6 also gets to his feet and watches Number 8 as she swims out into deeper water.
Number 2 is in his office, holding a file open at a photograph of Number 8.
Number 2: International swimmer. At the age of seventeen... Olympic bronze medallist!
He suddenly realizes what's going on, and picks up a phone.
Number 2: Control Room.
In the Control Room:
Number 2: Number 2. Tell me, what visual range do you have out to sea?
Supervisor: Do you mean direct TV transmission?
Number 2: Yes.
Supervisor: Two miles.
Back in Number 2's office:
Supervisor: After that, we're on radar.
Number 2: Thank you.
In the Control Room:
Supervisor: Control room is now ready for you.
Number 2: Oh, thank you, I'll be right there.
Number 8 is still swimming strongly. Her image is on the screen in the Control Room as Number 2 arrives.
Supervisor: She'll be out of range soon.
Number 2: She's kept in training, I must say! Oh well, orange alert.
He presses a switch. The huge white ball bubbles up out of the water. The Prisoner watches impassively as it whines across the surface in Number 8's direction. She turns for a moment, sees it, and swims off again with even greater determination. The Control Room continues monitoring. The balloon reaches her, roars and suffocates her in a bewildering mass of light, sound and water. We see her being dragged back to the beach by the main ball and two other smaller side balloons. The Control Room continues monitoring.
The Prisoner descends to beach level, and bends down to examine the seemingly lifeless form of Number 8. Two hospital men appear with a stretcher.
Man: Don't touch her, please! We'll take care of her.
They place her onto the stretcher.
Number 2 is on the phone to the Prisoner, whom he can see on the screen in his circular office.
Number 2: Meet me at the hospital right away, Number 6.
Prisoner: Be right there.
They put their phones down simultaneously. On the screen, the Prisoner leaves his cottage.
The Prisoner arrives at the hospital in a taxi. In a corridor inside, he sees a bald and electrode-headed patient being wheeled past on a trolley. Number 2 comes out of a door.
Number 2: Ah, Number 6! How good of you to come! I wonder if you could help me.
Number 2: Well, you've probably got to know Number 8 better than anybody while she's been here... Come with me.
He goes back into the Observation Room (which is where the Examination Room was before), and the Prisoner follows.
Number 2: Look.
Through a one-way window, the Prisoner sees Number 8 sitting on her own in a room that's empty apart from a small table in front of her. She is being barraged with a stream of questions: "What was in your mind?", "Did you think you could escape?"., "What was the purpose of your swim?".
Number 2: Won't say a word. I really don't want to be hard on her. She's not at all important. I'm surprised they even sent her here.
The interrogator is revealed to be the Supervisor talking by phone from the Control Room.
Supervisor: What was the purpose of your swim? Were you attempting suicide?
Number 8 looks dazed and shaky.
Number 2: Have you noticed any suicidal tendencies?
Prisoner: What are you doing to her?
Supervisor: (What was the purpose of your swim?)
Number 2: Nothing, as you can see. Oh, there's an alternating current in the floor. Four seconds on, four seconds off. It takes just three seconds to get to the door. If she times it correctly, she can leave whenever she likes.
Supervisor: (Tell us. What was in your mind?)
Number 8 puts her hand into a bowl of water on the table, then throws the drips onto the floor. Electricity sparks.
Supervisor: (What was in your mind?)
Number 2: She's caught onto that at last.
Number 8 throws more water onto the floor.
Supervisor: (What was in your mind? What was the purpose of your swim?)
Number 8: One... two...
The floor sparks again.
Supervisor: (Did you think you could escape?)
Number 2: You see, if she has any confidence in her own timing, she's got no problem. It's self-inflicted.
She lets more water drip onto the floor.
Number 8: One... two... three...
The floor sparks.
Supervisor: (What was in your mind? What were you thinking?)
Number 8 becomes even more dazed. Surveillance cameras, tape drives, and all the equipment in the Control Room is trained on her.
Supervisor: (Tell us. What was in your mind? What was the purpose of your swim? What was in your mind? Were you attempting suicide? Suicide? Suicide?)
The Prisoner turns away. Number 8 takes more water and throws it onto the floor.
Supervisor: (What was in your mind? What was in your mind?)
Number 2: I believe she's going to do it.
Number 8: One... two... three... four...
The floor sparks.
Number 2: Yes! That's better.
Supervisor: (Your mind... your mind... your mind...)
Number 8 runs across the room to the door, and then stops.
Supervisor: (Mind... mind... mind... mind... mind...)
Number 2: No! Switch off! SWITCH OFF!
The Prisoner turns to look. Number 8 falls to the floor, sobbing.
Number 8: Kill me, kill me, kill me! Kill me!
Number 2: Well well, we'll just have to try something else.
He walks back out to the corridor, allowing the Prisoner through the doorway first.
Number 2: Are you sure you can't help me? I really find this most distasteful.
Prisoner: Let her go.
Number 2: It looks like a suicidal tendency, doesn't it? But one must be sure---
Prisoner: LET HER GO!
Number 2: Is that an order, Number 6?
Prisoner: All right. You wanted a deal... I'll make a deal with you.
He crosses to peer into the group therapy corridor. Straight-jacketed patients line the walls as before.
Prisoner: Let her go and I'll collaborate.
Number 2: You'll what?
Prisoner: Isn't that what you wanted?
Number 2: So obvious a weakness? In you?
Prisoner: Why not?
Number 2: For which you'll collaborate?
Prisoner: Don't get too excited. I'll tell you nothing.
He looks into the corridor again.
Prisoner: I'll er, join in, try to settle down. I'll even carve something for your exhibition.
Number 2: If I turn her over to you, you'll do some woodwork for me! Is that your deal?
Prisoner: Best you'll get.
He starts to walk away. Number 2 guffaws.
Number 2: You really are the limit, Number 6!
He produces a tiny dictaphone and speaks into it.
Number 2: File number 6, section 42, subsection 6, new paragraph 5: "Overweening sense of self-importance...".
The Prisoner stops and turns.
Number 2: "... While here, his egomania has, if anything, increased."
Number 2: All right! She's all yours.
Prisoner: Be seeing you.
And he strides out of the door.
It's another morning in the Village, and the Prisoner is preparing his breakfast. Number 8 enters.
Prisoner: Ah yes, good morning! You're early!
Number 8: Dobroye utro. I'll do it for you.
The Prisoner makes a pleased grunt.
Number 8: One egg or two?
Prisoner: Two, I think.
In the Green Dome, Number 2 and the Labour Exchange Manager are watching.
Number 2: One egg or two...
Number 8 hands the Prisoner a drink.
Number 8: Here you are.
Prisoner: This is so nice.
He raises the drink as a toast.
Prisoner: Be seeing you.
Number 2 leaps up from his spherical chair, shooting-stick in hand.
Number 2: Things couldn't be going better. I think I'll pay them a call.
Number 2 meets Number 8 and the Prisoner as they leave the latter's cottage.
Number 2: Good morning to you both. Settling down I hope?
Number 8: Thank you.
Number 2: No swimming today, eh? Mm.
Prisoner: No, off to the woods.
Number 2: Naughty, naughty.
Prisoner: To carve for the exhibition. I've decided to do a series of abstracts.
Number 2: You're not using any offensive weapons, I hope. You know the ruling about axes, saws, chisels, that sort of thing. They may fall into the wrong hands.
Prisoner: Ah... abstract art is basically primitive. I've... I've made my own tools.
Number 2: Tiptop! Doing as the caveman did, eh, Number 6?
Prisoner: I may even invent fire...
They wander off, leaving Number 2 to his laughter.
They arrive at the grove of statues. Number 8 gasps as one of them swivels round, lights flashing in its eyes. The Prisoner simply acknowledges its presence with the "Be seeing you" gesture, and continues unwinding the ball of string he's carrying.
Prisoner: They can see us, but they can't hear us. You can talk freely.
Number 8: Can I?
Prisoner: You still think it's a trap.
Number 8: I don't know.
The Prisoner walks over to a particular tree and pulls out a bundle hidden in its roots.
Prisoner: Were you sent here because you'd discovered the whereabouts of the Village?
Number 8: Don't tell them that!
Prisoner: But you know where it is, don't you?
He puts the bundle on the ground and unwraps it. It contains a couple of crudely-fashioned tools, including an axe.
Number 8: All I know is there's no escape.
Prisoner: Not even by sea. You tried it.
He tightens the string that binds the axehead to the shaft.
Number 8: I was a fool. I couldn't swim so far.
Prisoner: How far? To where?
Number 8 sighs.
Number 8: It's no good.
Prisoner: Isn't it? If I knew where I was sailing from, I could calculate where I was sailing to.
Number 8: Sail?
Prisoner: By boat.
He has picked up the axe and now starts chopping into a tree. Number 8 starts to walk away.
Prisoner: Where are you going?
Number 8: I must think.
Prisoner: Keep to the paths.
He keeps chopping tirelessly until the tree falls. Number 2 watches approvingly from his spherical chair. The Prisoner takes the axe to the trunk, then uses the other tool -- a long pole and a sharp piece of stone -- to chisel the wood into the form of a bottomless hull. Number 2 continues looking on. The Prisoner lifts his sculpture onto its side and is still working hard when Number 2 arrives in person.
Number 2: I say!... I say!... What is it?
Prisoner: It's er, not finished yet. It doesn't make sense without the whole group. There'll be three pieces.
Number 2: Entries must be in two weeks tomorrow, you know.
Prisoner: Yes, I'll be ready.
He continues chiselling.
Number 2: Axe, stone chisels... Even these are outside the pale of the law, you know, technically speaking.
Prisoner: Yes, I'm er, I'm sure you can wink a blind surveillance eye, can't you?
Number 2: My dear Number 6, I wouldn't dream of interfering. I can't tell you how delighted I am. Can I give you a lift back to the Village?
Prisoner: Er, no thanks, I think I'll carry on while there's enough light, do a bit more.
Number 2: Ah... well... Be seeing you.
Prisoner: And you.
The Prisoner pauses for a moment to return Number 2's "Be seeing you" gesture. He stares after Number 2 as he chuckles and wanders away.
Prisoner: But not for long...
It is evening, and the radio is whispering sweet nothings. The Prisoner, reclining in a chair, checks his watch and gets up.
Radio: Hello and good evening. Curfew time. Sleep tight. Fifteen minutes now to curfew. Meanwhile, allow us to lull you away with...
Syrupy muzak pours out of the radio. The Prisoner lifts it from its shelf just as Number 8 arrives and rings the door-buzzer.
Number 8: Is it safe to talk?
Prisoner: Speak softly.
They go and sit with the radio at the table outside the Prisoner's cottage.
Radio: Curfew in five minutes.
Prisoner: Tell me...
Radio: To curfew, the minutes are five.
The Prisoner strokes Number 8's forehead with his finger. Number 2 and the Labour Exchange Manager are watching as ever.
Number 2: The language of love...
Number 8 and the Prisoner speak in whispers.
Number 8: I do know where the Village is.
Prisoner: How do you know?
Number 8: I worked for the government.
Prisoner: Which... which government?
Number 8: Well, it doesn't matter. But I saw a secret file on the Village, by accident and for a few seconds only.
Prisoner: Did you um, have access to other secret information?
Number 8: Yes.
Prisoner: Where are we, Nadia?
Number 8: Lithuania.
They stand up and walk back to the Prisoner's door, his arm round her shoulders.
Radio: Curfew time, one minute...
Radio: ... sixty seconds.
Prisoner: On the Baltic. That means making for West Germany, Denmark... It's um, three hundred miles at least.
Number 8: No, it doesn't have to be.
Prisoner: Why not?
Number 8: Gdynia, in Poland. Danzig. Will you take me with you? Will I be safe?
Prisoner: I can't answer for the British authorities -- for either of us.
Number 2: Can you answer for you?
Prisoner: I give you my personal guarantee, for whatever that's worth.
Number 8: Thirty miles, that's all.
Number 8: Yes, that's how far we are from the Polish border.
Number 8: Beyond, on the coast, there's a little village, Branyevo. Fishing people. They resist them. There's a little group; I... I know them. I have a contact man. He'll do anything for us once we get there.
Prisoner: Is that where you were making for?
Number 8: Oh, do you know what I want? To hear the chimes of Big Bill...
Radio: And now it's here; it's the curfew...
Prisoner: Or Big Ben...
Number 8: I'll never call you anything else.
Radio: ... chiming out...
Prisoner: Goodnight, Nadia.
Number 8: Goodnight, Big Ben.
Prisoner: Big Bill...
They part, the Prisoner taking the radio back into his cottage. The door opens for him automatically.
It is the day when the exhibition of arts and crafts will be judged. The Village is a riot of colour, the brass band plays, and a huge banner outside the hall proclaims "EXHIBITION of arts and crafts, open daily 9.30 am - 7.30 pm, ADMISSION FREE". Number 2 strides out of the hall and meets Number 8 and the Prisoner on the steps. He has to shout to be heard over the band.
Number 2: Good afternoon to you both!
Prisoner: Good afternoon!
Number 2: Would you excuse me for a minute, Number 8? Number 6, I've just come from the exhibition.
Number 2: The awards committee are intrigued with your abstract, but they're a little mystified. Could you spare a moment to give them a word?
Prisoner: Certainly, a great pleasure.
He turns to Number 8.
Prisoner: Yes, I'll be right... right back.
Number 2: Excuse us!
Inside the exhibition hall, the little butler follows Number 2 around. All the works on display (apart from the Prisoner's own) are portraits or busts of Number 2.
Number 2: Remarkably high standard, don't you agree?
Prisoner: Oh, highly original.
They walk on. The General draws them over to his display.
Number 2: Ah, General! Excellent!
General: I've seen your stuff, Number 6. I didn't like it, bound to say so.
Prisoner: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Is this your chess set?
General: Oh, it's nothing, nothing.
Prisoner: It's very good.
General: Mm yes, I quite like the king, I must confess.
The figure of the king resembles Number 2.
Prisoner: The king? Yes. Yes... First class...
General: I'm glad to see you're settling down, by the way.
Prisoner: Thank you. Thank you very much.
He continues into the main part of the hall, where his own wood sculpture is displayed on a revolving dais for the awards committee. Number 2 peers through a panel of the sculpture that contains holes of various sizes.
Number 2: And here he is, our very own Epstein!
Prisoner: Can I help?
First Man: We're not quite sure what it means.
Prisoner: It means what it is.
Number 2 looks through the bottomless hull, now stood on its end for display purposes.
Number 2: Brilliant. It means what it is. Brilliant... Oh no! You mustn't let me influence you -- you are the awards committee.
He climbs down off the dais.
Woman: What puzzled me, Number 6, was the fact that you'd given the group a title, Escape.
The Prisoner climbs up onto the dais, and indicates the hull.
Prisoner: This piece -- what does it represent to you?
Second Man: A church door?
Prisoner: Right first time.
Woman: I think I see what he's getting at.
Prisoner: Yes... now this other piece here, of the same general line, somewhat more abstract as you'll notice, representing freedom or a barrier -- depending how you look at it.
Like Number 2 before him, he peers through the holed panel.
Prisoner: The barrier's down, the door is open, you're free, free to go, free to escape, to escape to this...
He has come back round to the front, and now looks up at what is obviously a mast. The first man on the committee takes off his hat.
Prisoner: ... the symbols of human aspirations: knowledge, freedom, escape.
First Man: Why the cross-piece?
Prisoner: Why not?
Woman: Good, splendid! I was really quite worried for a moment. The only thing I really don't understand...
Woman: Where is Number 2?
All of a sudden there is a round of applause, and we are in the middle of the prize-giving ceremony. Number 2 stands on a podium, making the announcements through a megaphone. The butler stands by his side, and the awards committee are seated on the podium.
Number 2: And now, and now the special prize for the over-sixty group. And this goes for her magnificent tapestry to Number 38!
Number 38 is an old lady resembling the popular conception of Miss Marple. Those present applaud as she approaches the podium, where the butler hands her a rosette.
Number 2: Well done, 38!
Number 2 chuckles and starts another round of applause. He picks up the megaphone again.
Number 2: And now, and now, the prize of prizes. The special merit award of 2000 work units for the best work in any of the five groups. And the committee have awarded it to... Number 6!
There is applause. The Prisoner gives a knowing look to Nadia, and goes up to collect his rosette from the butler. Number 2 puts the megaphone down and raises both hands.
Number 2: Speech, my dear chap!
Number 2: Speech.
Prisoner: Oh yes. Um, ladies and gentleman... er, fellow citizens...
Number 2 nods appreciatively.
Prisoner: Um, my work is its own satisfaction.
Number 2: Spoken like a true artist.
Prisoner: I am, however, deeply honoured by this award. I feel nevertheless that it should have gone not to me but to someone whose work, long life, in this Village has been an example to us all... Number 38!
There is another round of applause. This time it is the Prisoner who raises his hand for silence.
Prisoner: Yes. It... it's not for me to reverse the decision of the committee, however I... I would like to use these 2000 work units to buy Number 38's work to hang in my own home!... Agreed?
There is a big round of applause, including cries of "Bravo" from Number 2 and others. Number 6 walks over to Number 38 and hands her his 2000-work-unit rosette. They all stride happily out of the exhibition hall as the brass band strikes up again. Number 2 remains on the steps.
It is the middle of the night. The Village's penny-farthing flag flutters in the wind as Number 8 and the Prisoner cautiously carry the bottomless hull out of the deserted exhibition hall and down to the beach. They spread out a canvas on the sand, place the holed panel on top of it, and the hull on top of that. They tie it all together and put the mast in place. Finally they unfurl the sail -- it's Number 38's tapestry of Number 2 -- and push off into the water...
Speaker: Good morning, good morning, good morning. And what a lovely day it is again! Rise and shine, rise and shine. First, your weather. It'll be hot and fine all day, though the fresh breeze will continue.
The Prisoner's cottage is of course empty. He and Number 8 are making progress along the coast.
Number 8: How much further?
Prisoner: About two miles. If your geography's correct, just around the next headland.
In the Control Room, the Supervisor watches to make sure all is well. The various sensors have already detected that the Prisoner is missing; they soon locate the boat. The Supervisor smiles.
Supervisor: Calling Number 2... calling Number 2...
The boat continues over the water.
The Supervisor points to an image on the radar.
Supervisor: There. Almost out of range.
The boat sails on.
Number 2: Thirty miles, eh? Better contact post five, just in case. And then orange alert.
The Supervisor picks up an L-shaped phone.
Supervisor: Orange alert... Orange alert.
The white bubble rises up from the water with its familiar whine.
In the boat, Number 8 suddenly points.
Number 8: That's it! See the cave?
On the land, a man (Karel) is watching them through binoculars. He sees the white ball hurtling across the water's surface, and takes aim with his rifle.
Prisoner: We're catching a crosswind from the rocks.
Number 8 suddenly notices the ball.
Number 8: Look!
The ball roars.
Prisoner: Swim for it! Right, SWIM FOR IT!
They jump overboard and start swimming. On the coast, Karel fires three times at the ball, but the shots have no effect. They simply keep it away from the shore. Number 8 and the Prisoner reach the shore and clamber out of the water.
He rushes down from his position on the rocks to greet her. They talk urgently in Russian. The Prisoner interrupts them.
Prisoner: Get a pencil... paper...
She asks Karel for these things and gives them to the Prisoner. Karel takes her hand and dashes into the cave. The Prisoner stands outside for a minute, writing something down. He then goes into the cave himself.
Prisoner: Ask him to transmit this to London immediately. He will not...
Prisoner: He will not understand it. It is in code. It is a delivery note.
She translates this and hands him the note.
Prisoner: What route are we taking?
Number 8 translates.
Karel: Ah, I... understand. By sea... Gdansk... Danzig, you know. By air to Copenhagen. By air again to London.
The Prisoner seems preoccupied with his own watch.
Karel: Quick now, please.
Prisoner: His watch. Ask him for his watch.
She translates the request. The Prisoner indicates his own watch.
Prisoner: This... this no good. Sea water, no good. Your watch!
They swap watches.
Prisoner: What now?
Karel: Quick now, please!
The Prisoner and Number 8 lie down in a crate. A partition separates them. Each has a blanket. Karel nails the lid down with a hammer. A sign on the lid says "London via Danzig & Copenhagen". We see the crate driven through the Polish countryside in the back of a truck. Number 8 surprises the Prisoner by suddenly speaking.
Number 8: Big Ben?
Number 8: I just wanted to hear your voice.
Prisoner: I don't chime.
He looks at his watch.
Prisoner: The chimes should occur... in about... twelve hours' time.
We see their crate being loaded onto a ship, and the ship crossing the sea. This time the Prisoner is asleep.
Number 8: Big Ben?
Prisoner: Mm? What?... Yes?
Number 8: I feel a bit sick.
Prisoner: That's all right. Hold out. There's only another... three hours at sea.
Number 8 grunts in resignation. The Prisoner tries to get back to sleep.
Number 8: Big Ben?
Number 8: Have you got a wife in England?
Prisoner: No... Don't talk any more.
Number 8: ... Big Ben?
Number 8: I feel a bit better.
Prisoner: That's great... That's marvellous, wonderful... good night.
He pulls his blanket round his head.
In a government office somewhere, a red phone rings. A grey-haired man in suit and spectacles answers it.
Fotheringay: Fotheringay here, yes... Yes, I've seen a copy of the deciphered message... What time would you say?... Good... My dear sir, I can't wait to see him.
The crate is moved onto a plane. The Prisoner checks his watch again.
Prisoner: If that was, er, if that was Copenhagen, it's less than... less than an hour and a half to go.
Number 8: Big Ben?
Number 8: Where are we going to land in England?
Prisoner: I don't know. If my message was received correctly, we'll land in an office that I shall know very well in London.
Number 8: Big Ben?
Number 8: Are you engaged to someone? Um... I mean, is that the right word? Um, "engaged"?
Prisoner: Go to sleep!
The plane touches down. They are buffeted around as the crate is moved by porters who complain of its weight.
A rather pompous figure in an overcoat strides into Fotheringay's office and places his bowler hat on the desk.
Fotheringay: Good evening, Colonel.
Colonel: Evening, Fotheringay. Well, everything's gone according to schedule. Our friend'll be with us any minute.
The crate is carried into the antechamber by several men and deposited on the floor. Inside, the Prisoner receives a final jolt.
Colonel: Right, get it open.
The lid of the crate is prised off with a crowbar. The Prisoner and Number 8 emerge blinking into electric light -- the Venetian blinds on the windows are drawn. The Colonel looks at them both. The Prisoner takes his time in greeting him.
Prisoner: ... Colonel...
Colonel: All right?
They shake hands.
Prisoner: ... Fotheringay...
Fotheringay: Hello, old man.
They shake hands warmly.
Prisoner: ... Allow me to introduce you to Nadia...
Colonel: How do you do, m'dear?
Number 8 looks nervous and exhausted by the journey. The Colonel turns to Fotheringay.
Colonel: Right then, er, perhaps you'd leave us to it, old chap?
Fotheringay walks past the Prisoner as he leaves.
Fotheringay: Might see you later, I hope.
Prisoner: Yes, I certainly hope so, Fotheringay.
Big Ben starts to chime quarter-to.
Number 8: Is... is this... London?
The chimes continue.
Number 8: ... Is that it?
The chimes finish.
Prisoner: Yes. That's it.
Colonel: Perhaps you wouldn't mind waiting in the other room, m'dear? Er, Peters!
Prisoner: It's all right, you can go with him. See you later.
Peters and another man lead her out, leaving the Prisoner alone with the Colonel. They walk into the office, the Prisoner somewhat stiffly.
Colonel: Well, the return of the prodigal son.
Prisoner: ... I don't see any fatted calf.
Colonel: Did you expect one?
The Colonel shuts the double doors. The Prisoner laughs slightly.
Colonel: So tell me, who's she?
Prisoner: Nadia Rakowski.
Colonel: Oh really? And what was her name before she left Peckham Rye to train for the Bolshoi Ballet?
Prisoner: You haven't changed, have you? She told me she was an Estonian. In the Village...
Colonel: The village?
Prisoner: ... she was known as Number 8. Don't you know about the Village?
Colonel: I'm here to ask the questions, old boy!
The Prisoner smiles grimly.
Prisoner: That's what Number 2 used to say.
Colonel: Number 2?
Prisoner: Chairman of the Village.
Colonel: What village?
Prisoner: Oh yes, I forgot, you don't know, do you?
His voice becomes angry and he starts pacing the room.
Prisoner: The Village... is a place where people turn up, people who have resigned from a certain sort of job, have defected or have been extracted. The specialized knowledge in their heads is of great value to one side or the other. Are you sure you haven't got a Village here?
The Colonel starts to stroke his moustache.
Colonel: Where's this Village?
Prisoner: Lithuania. On the Baltic. Thirty miles from the Polish border.
Colonel: How did you find out?
The Prisoner lowers himself painfully into a chair.
Prisoner: Nadia told me.
Colonel: How did she know?
Prisoner: She used to work for their government. She came across a secret file.
Colonel: On how to catch a spy in six lessons?
Prisoner: I risked my life and hers to come back here, home, because I thought it was different. It is, isn't it, ISN'T IT DIFFERENT?!
Colonel: ... My dear chap, I do apologize. You've had a long journey, you must be exhausted. Now... I expect you could do with a decent drink. Scotch?
He pours one.
Prisoner: Twenty-four work units.
Prisoner: That's how much it cost in the Village.
Colonel: Ah yes, the Village...
Prisoner: Surely you know about it?
Colonel: All I know, old boy, is that you resigned from a post of the highest possible secrecy in this country, refused to give your reasons, and then promptly vanished.
Prisoner: I was kidnapped.
Colonel: Oh really? How dramatic! And then, after a gap of months, we suddenly receive a suitably coded message that you're coming back -- from the other side of the Iron Curtain.
Prisoner: You think I've gone over.
Colonel: And come back here to carry on the good work.
Colonel: "No" he says! No -- "Nyet"! "Nyet"! What sort of imbeciles do you think we are?
Big Ben starts to chime the hour. The Colonel hands the Prisoner his drink.
Prisoner: Thanks... What do you want me to do?
Colonel: Quite a lot of things. But let's start at square one though, shall we? First, why did you resign?
Prisoner: It was a matter of conscience.
Colonel: Oh listen, sonny boy.
The Prisoner stands up and crosses the room. Big Ben chimes.
Colonel: Do you think you're safe in London? If they thought it worth kidnapping you...
Big Ben chimes again.
Colonel: ... it's worth killing you. I doubt if you'll be alive...
Big Ben chimes a third time.
Colonel: ... twenty-four hours after you leave this building... unless you get protection.
Big Ben chimes again.
Colonel: Do you want it?
Prisoner: For the girl as well.
Colonel: If you'd come across with the goodies, yes.
Big Ben chimes a fifth time.
Prisoner: Political asylum guaranteed for the girl.
Colonel: Well, that depends---
Prisoner: It depends nothing! It's guaranteed!
Big Ben chimes again.
Colonel: All right! So long as you keep your part of the bargain.
Big Ben chimes a seventh time.
Prisoner: ... Right...
The Prisoner looks at his watch.
Colonel: Right, question one: why did you resign?
Big Ben chimes a final time. The Prisoner crosses the room to lean on the desk.
Prisoner: I resigned... because... for a very long time I... just a minute... it's eight o'clock.
Colonel: That's right. The night is young, and there are many questions. First, why did you resign?
The Prisoner crosses back.
Prisoner: Big Ben has just struck eight. My watch says eight.
Prisoner: I was given this watch by a man in Poland. I particularly wanted it to check the time, to make sure that the trip... tallied with the journey to London.
He takes the watch off.
Colonel: Which it presumably did?
Prisoner: Yes, of course. Would you like to explain to me how a man in Poland came to have a watch showing English time...when there's one hour's difference?
He grabs the Colonel by the waistcoat.
Colonel: Maybe he was slow.
Prisoner: I'll bet he was.
He finds a wire on the floor by the desk and tugs it loose. Nothing happens. In a rage, he looks in a cabinet, and then tries turning off a mains switch on the wall. The noise of the London traffic stops abruptly. Throwing open a cupboard by the mains switch, the Prisoner discovers a tape recorder on a shelf. He turns the switch back on, and the tape starts simulating the traffic again.
Without a word he wanders past the Colonel, out of the room and into a blue-carpeted corridor. London traffic can still be heard. The corridor ends in a large set of double doors. He opens one and hears brass-band music. He opens the other and steps back into the Village. Hands in pockets, he walks off along the path.
Number 2 comes out of a building ahead of him... along with Fotheringay.
Number 2: Well done, Fotheringay. Well, you'd better get back to London before any embarrassing questions are asked.
Fotheringay: What's my next assignment?
Number 2: The Colonel will give you your orders when he returns.
Number 8 emerges from the doorway behind them. The Prisoner approaches the group, staring down at his feet. He stops, looks up, and makes the "Be seeing you" gesture.
Prisoner: Be seeing you.
He walks on. The loudspeakers burst into life.
Speaker: Good evening citizens! Your local council wishes to announce another exciting competition...
Meeting a couple on his route, the Prisoner be-seeings them emotionlessly.
Speaker: ... the subject this time, seascapes.
The Prisoner has reached his cottage. Looking back over his shoulder, he clicks his fingers and the door opens. He enters, and the door shuts.
Number 2 is walking round the Control Room with Number 8. She is staring at her feet; he is speaking into his dictaphone.
Number 2: File number 6, section 42, subsection 1, paragraph 1: "Back to the beginning"
Number 8: You were right about him.
She walks up the stairs, leaving him at floor level.
Number 2: I told you.
Number 8: Don't worry. It was a good idea and you did your best. I'll stress it in my report.
Prison bars slam shut on the Prisoner's face.
Next episode: A, B and C
Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner
Leo McKern as Number 2
Nadia Gray as Nadia [Number 8]
Finlay Currie as the General
Richard Wattis as Fotheringay
Angelo Muscat as the Butler
Kevin Stoney as Colonel J.
Christopher Benjamin as Number 2's Assistant [Manager]
David Arlen as Karel
Peter Swanwick as the Supervisor
Hilda Barry as Number 38
Jack Le-White as the First Judge
John Maxim as the Second Judge
Lucy Griffiths as the Third Judge
Episode written by Vincent Tilsley and Don Chaffey
Executive Producer: Patrick McGoohan
Director: Don Chaffey
Production Manager: Bernard Williams
Director of Photography: Brendan J. Stafford B.S.C.
Art Director: Jack Shampan
Camera Operator: Jack Lowin
Editor: Spencer Reeve
Theme by Ron Grainer
Cameraman (2nd Unit): Robert Monks
Assistant Director: Gino Marotta
Sound Editor: Wilfred Thompson
Sound Recordist: John Bramall
Music Editor: Bob Dearberg
Casting Director: Rose Tobias-Shaw
Continuity: Doris Martin
Set Dresser: Kenneth Bridgeman
Make-Up: Eddie Knight
Hairdressing: Pat McDermot
Wardrobe: Masada Wilmot
Made on Location
and at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Borehamwood, England
An ITC Production
Incorporated Television Company Limited MCMLXVII
by Everyman Films Limited
"I am not a number, I am a free man!"