A clap of thunder starts the title theme: a man in a dark tieless suit speeds towards us along a stretch of deserted road. The man whom we will call "the Prisoner" drives his Lotus 7 through the traffic in central London, and into an underground car park where he collects a ticket from the barrier machine. He leaves the car, passes through double doors marked "WAY OUT" and strides briskly down a long corridor. With a sudden crescendo in the music, he wrenches open a second set of double doors, enters his boss's office and hurls his resignation onto the desk in an envelope marked "Private and Personal -- by hand". In his fury he slams his fist down and shatters a cup of tea.
He sets off into the traffic again, passing a hearse; we see a typewriter slapping a row of Xs over a photograph of the Prisoner; the hearse is now following him through the streets; a robotic arm drops the photograph into one of endless filing cabinets labelled "Resigned". The Prisoner parks outside his London home, goes inside and starts packing his bags for a holiday. But the hearse has also arrived; an undertaker emerges, and moments later gas pours in through the Prisoner's keyhole. The skyscrapers through the window sway before the Prisoner's eyes and he collapses onto his bed.
He wakes up somewhat dazed in the same room, but when he raises the blinds the tower blocks have been replaced with a beautiful floral lawn surrounded by bizarrely colourful baroque architecture. Instantly alert he leaves his cottagelike home-from-home, looks around him, spies somebody watching him from a bell-tower and rapidly climbs the tower himself. By the time he gets to the top, it is deserted. There is nothing to hear but the wind and nobody else to be seen till a waitress appears on the terrace of a café to put up parasols at the tables. The bell suddenly chimes out and the Prisoner hurries down to the café.
Waitress: We'll be open in a minute.
Prisoner: What's the name of this place?
Waitress: You're new here, aren't you?
He starts following her round the table as she sets up some chairs. Behind them, a man in overalls is carefully hosing down the check-tiled floor.
Waitress: Do you want breakfast?
Prisoner: Where is this?
Waitress: The Village?
Waitress:: I'll see if coffee's ready.
She starts to move away, but the Prisoner grabs her arm.
Prisoner: Where's the police station?
Waitress: There isn't one.
Prisoner: Can I use your phone?
Waitress: We haven't got one.
Prisoner: Where can I make a call?
Waitress: Well there's a phone box round the corner.
Prisoner: Thank you.
He strides hurriedly to the phone box, which bears the emblem of a canopied penny-farthing in a circle along with the advice "For information lift and press". The Prisoner picks up a strange L-shaped cordless phone. He hears a dialling tone, then a beep followed by a woman's voice.
Operator: Number please.
Prisoner: What exchange is this?
Operator: Number please.
Prisoner: I want to make a call to---
Operator: Local calls only. What is your number, sir?
Prisoner: Haven't got a number.
Operator: No number, no call.
And the dialling tone returns. Wandering about, he next comes across a large map labelled "Your Village" on a board claiming to offer "Free information". There are several dozen numbered buttons next to an arrow marked "Push and find out". As soon as he pushes the "Taxi rank" button (number 9) an extraordinary little canopied taxi pulls up, driven by a woman in a striped shirt.
Driver: Where to, sir? Où désirez-vous aller?
Prisoner: Take me to the nearest town.
Driver: Oh, we're only the local service.
Prisoner: Take me as far as you can.
They drive off.
Prisoner: Why did you speak to me in French?
Driver: French is international.
Prisoner: I suppose it's a waste of time asking the name of this place.
Driver: As a matter of fact I thought you might be Polish, perhaps a Czech.
Prisoner: What would Poles or Czechs be doing here?
Driver: It's very cosmopolitan. You never know who you'll meet next.
After not very long at all, the driver stops the taxi.
Driver: I did tell you we are only local. The charge is two units.
Driver: Credit units. Oh well, pay me next time. Be seeing you.
As she says "Be seeing you", she forms a ring from her thumb and forefinger (like a diver's "OK" signal) and brings it first up to her eye and then out again towards the Prisoner. She drives away, leaving him outside a small shop labelled "General stores" in the seemingly ubiquitous Village typeface. He enters. The shopkeeper, a plump man in an apron and boater, is talking absolute gibberish to a lady customer. When he notices the Prisoner, he breaks off abruptly.
Shopkeeper: Would you help yourself to a pineapple, madam?
She fetches one and he puts it in a bag for her.
Shopkeeper: Thank you. Good day. Be seeing you.
He repeats the taxi-driver's gesture; she leaves.
Shopkeeper: Good morning, sir. And what can I do for you then?
Prisoner: I'd like a map of this area.
Shopkeeper: Map? Colour or black and white?
Prisoner: Just a map.
He pauses to remember where he keeps such a thing.
Shopkeeper: Ah. Black and white...
He produces a map from a cupboard.
Shopkeeper: There we are, sir. I think you'll find that shows everything.
The map is labelled "Map of your Village". The Prisoner opens it; it shows the Village bordered by "the mountains": there are no external geographical names.
Prisoner: I... I meant a larger map.
Shopkeeper: Only in colour, sir. Much more expensive.
Prisoner: That's fine.
The shopkeeper fetches him a colour map as inadequate as the last. It folds out as a larger sheet of paper, but still mentions only "the mountains", "the sea", and "the beach", together with the title "Your Village".
Prisoner: Er, that's not what I meant. I meant a... a larger area.
Shopkeeper: No, we only have local maps, sir. There's no demand for any others. You're new here, aren't you?
Prisoner: Where can I get a hire car? Self-drive.
Shopkeeper: No self-drive. Only taxis.
Prisoner: I've tried those.
Another customer enters the shop.
Shopkeeper: Well, I look forward to the pleasure of your custom, sir. Be seeing you.
Again the gesture; the Prisoner glances back in irritation. The shopkeeper turns to his new customer.
Shopkeeper: Yes, sir?
No sooner has the Prisoner left the shop than a nearby loudspeaker blasts into life with a brief jingle. The loudspeaker has a coloured canopy like everything else in the Village. A cheerful woman's voice is heard.
Loudspeaker: Good morning, all. It's another beautiful day.
And syrupy muzak pours forth. The Prisoner spots a maid shaking a duster out of the window of his cottage and returns there hurriedly. He pauses only slightly at the sight of the canopied sign outside his new home; it says "6, Private" and wasn't there before. The door opens and shuts for him with an automatic hum; through the window he glimpses the maid walking away. On his desk is a doll holding a card with the message "Welcome to your home from home". As he snatches the card, the phone starts beeping noisily. It's an ordinary black London phone of the sixties, except for the number 6 in the centre of its analogue dial. The Prisoner answers cautiously.
Operator: Is your number six?
Operator: Just one moment, I have a call for you.
Number 2: Good morning to you. I hope you slept well. Come and join me for breakfast: Number 2, the Green Dome.
We next see the Prisoner walking suspectingly through the Village, to the accompaniment of silly music reminiscent of nursery rhymes. His destination, the building known as the Green Dome, is obvious. He passes a gardener tending a bush, and reaches Number 2's door. As he rings the bell the music stops, and a ludicrously vast and deep gong chimes out. The door opens for him automatically and he steps into a lavishly furnished hallway. A tiny butler bows to the Prisoner and leads the way to a pair of elegant white double doors. The Prisoner approaches, but there is only darkness beyond.
Suddenly light pours in as great metal doors slide apart automatically, revealing a huge circular room empty except for a penny-farthing and a strange circular desk in the centre. A black sphere rises up from the centre of the desk and turns on its axis, revealing itself to be a chair containing Number 2, a man wearing a dark scarf with yellow and white stripes.
Number 2: At last! Delighted to see you.
The Prisoner steps forward and the metal doors slide shut behind him.
Number 2: Come in, come in.
The Prisoner walks down a shallow ramp into the room. Weird colours dance and spin on an enormous screen on one wall and there is a dais of lights above Number 2's desk.
Number 2: Do sit down.
He reaches out with his shooting-stick (which is also a furled umbrella) and presses one of many switches on his desk. A circle slides out of the floor near the Prisoner and a chair rises up out of it. Number 2 chuckles.
Number 2: I'm sorry, I can never resist that. I hope you don't mind a working breakfast.
He flicks another switch with his shooting-stick, and a small circular table appears from the floor. At the same time, the metal doors open and the butler wheels in a breakfast trolley. The doors close immediately.
Number 2: Tea or coffee?
The butler has just placed a pot of tea on the table.
Number 2: Indian or China?
Prisoner: Either. With lemon.
As he speaks, the butler adds a slice of lemon to the tea.
Number 2: One or two eggs with your bacon?
The butler unveils them in a dish.
Number 2: That will be all.
They watch the butler wheel the trolley away.
Number 2: Help yourself to toast.
The Prisoner walks to the table, lifts the lid off the one remaining dish and finds slices of toast inside.
Number 2: I suppose you're wondering what you're doing here.
Prisoner: It had crossed my mind.
He replaces the lid angrily.
Prisoner: What's it all about?
The chair rises out of the floor again.
Number 2: Sit down and I'll tell you. It's a question of your resignation.
The Prisoner is walking round behind the penny-farthing. Number 2's chair swivels round to follow him.
Prisoner: Go on.
Number 2: The information in your head is priceless. I don't think you realize what a valuable property you've become. A man like you is worth a great deal on the open market.
Prisoner: Who brought me here?
Number 2: I know how you feel, believe me. And they have taken quite a liberty.
Prisoner: Who are "they"?
Number 2: A lot of people are curious about what lies behind your resignation. You had a brilliant career. Your record is impeccable. They want to know why you suddenly left.
Prisoner: What people?
Number 2: Now personally I believe your story. I do think it was a matter of principle. But, er, what I think doesn't really count, does it? One has to be sure about these things.
The Prisoner has completed his tour round the room and is now once again face to face with Number 2.
Prisoner: And that gives you the right to poke your nose into my private business?
Number 2: Now please. It's my job to check your motives.
Prisoner: I've been checked!
He strides away again in anger.
Number 2: Of course, but when a man knows as much as you do, a double check does no harm. A few details may have been missed.
Prisoner: I don't know who you are, or who you work for... and I don't care: I'm leaving.
He walks up the ramp to the metal doors. They open and shut in his face. Number 2's spherical chair descends slightly, allowing him to stand up. He places his shooting-stick on his desk.
Number 2: Have you not yet realized there's no way out? Now look, I have something that will interest you...
He seizes a file from the desk and opens it. Sinister music swells from nowhere. The dancing colours on the wall screen change abruptly into a slide show: photographs of the Prisoner as an infant. The Prisoner grabs the file from him and flips through it in apparent alarm.
Number 2: Oh, feel free!
The pictures on the wall stay precisely in time with the Prisoner as he turns the pages in the file. There are shots of him at school, in the army, and...
Number 2: A most important day...remember? Getting ready to meet Chambers, about to become late of the Foreign Office.
Photographs appear of the Prisoner getting up one morning.
Number 2: You were hoping to, er, persuade him to change his mind before the big boys found out. You waited and waited, but he never turned up.
The Prisoner is seen waiting in the rain and then checking in to a hotel. They even have shots of him lying on his hotel bed reading a dossier.
Number 2: A nice guy, Chambers. And so taut!
The Prisoner slams the file shut.
Number 2: You see there's not much we don't know about you, but one likes to know everything. For instance, do you remember that time you arrived back from Singapore? Change of climate, feeling a bit shaky. You were sickening for a cold -- sneezed yourself out of our camera.
The slides show the Prisoner with a handkerchief to his nose.
Number 2: Deciding to take a vacation!
The Prisoner is seen wearing various pondering expressions.
Number 2: Now where can you go? Ireland? A bit too cold that time of the year. Paris! Maybe not. What was that?
Some of the next few photographs show the Prisoner looking straight into the hidden camera, others show him with his back to it.
Number 2: Sounded like a click. Something in the mirror? Or was it over there? Yes, over there too.
The slide show suddenly ends.
Number 2: As I said, one likes to know everything. For instance I had no idea you liked lemon tea.
The Prisoner is leafing through the file.
Prisoner: The time of my birth is missing.
Number 2: Well, there you are. Now let's bring it all up to date.
Prisoner: Four thirty-one a.m., nineteenth of March 1928. I've nothing to say. Is that clear?
He throws the file to the floor.
Prisoner: Absolutely nothing.
Number 2: Now be reasonable, old boy. It's just a matter of time. Sooner or later you'll tell me. Sooner or later you'll want to. Let's make a deal. You cooperate, tell us what we want to know, and this can be a very nice place. You may even be given a position of authority.
Prisoner: I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.
Number 2: Is it?
Prisoner: Yes. You won't hold me.
He sets off for the door again, but stops.
Number 2: Won't we? Let me prove that we will.
He picks up the file with one hand and his shooting-stick with the other.
Number 2: Come, I'll show you. We can take this up later.
The next thing we see is a helicopter taking off. Number 2 and the Prisoner are sitting inside, wearing headsets. The little butler is in the pilot's seat, wearing a red cape and black bowler hat.
Number 2: Are you receiving me?
Prisoner: Loud and clear.
They circle over the Village. It is an extraordinary place -- bizarre but elegant buildings in a seasidelike atmosphere.
Number 2: Quite a beautiful place really, isn't it? Almost like a world on its own.
Prisoner: I shall miss it when I'm gone.
Number 2: Oh, it will grow on you. We have everything here: water, electricity...
He points down.
Number 2: There's the council building -- we have our own council, democratically elected. We also use it for public meetings, amateur theatricals...
Number 2: Yes indeed! There's the restaurant... But did you know we have our own little newspaper?
Prisoner: You must send me a copy.
Number 2 laughs out loud.
Number 2: You'll be the death of me. We also have our own graveyard... but you'd be more interested in our, er, social club, I think.
They fly over the main square, where Villagers are strolling around in colourful costumes or riding equally colourful canopied bicycles.
Number 2: Members only, but I'll see what I can do for you.
Prisoner: You're too kind.
Number 2: Now if you have any problems, there's our Citizens' Advice Bureau. They do a marvellous job. Everybody's very nice. You might even meet people you know.
The Prisoner acknowledges this last remark with a simple smile. The helicopter touches down on the grass again and the passengers climb out. They walk across the lawn of the old people's home, where brightly dressed pensioners are being waited on at parasolled tables. Suddenly they come to a stone boat moored at the water's edge. It is decked out with coloured flags and rigging, and pensioners are clambering all over it.
Number 2: You'll probably see the funny side of that. I'm told some people even get seasick on it.
Prisoner: What are they here for? St Vitus' dance?
Number 2: I'm glad you've still got your sense of humour. They're the senior citizens. Of course they have every comfort.
They walk back over the lawn to the road.
Number 2: You see you're looked after here -- as long as you live. Brilliant background: you see that old gentleman there? Ex-admiral. Excellent chess player.
Prisoner: Hope he finds a partner.
Number 2: Taxi!
They get into a canopied taxi (which says "taxi" on the back) and are driven rapidly through the streets of the Village, musical horn blaring loudly. When the taxi stops, they get out and go in different directions. The Prisoner wanders back to the main square, arriving at the same time as a colourful brass band playing the Radetski March. He notices a peculiar statue on a high plinth, showing Atlas supporting a large white ball. The loudspeakers ring out again.
Loudspeaker: Good morning all, it's another beautiful day. Your attention please. Here are two announcements.
With amusement, Number 2 turns to watch the Prisoner from a distance.
Loudspeaker: Ice cream is now on sale for your enjoyment. The flavour of the day is strawberry. Here is a warning.
The Prisoner turns to stare at one of the loudspeakers as he passes.
Loudspeaker: There is a possibility of light intermittent showers later in the day. Thank you for your attention.
Number 2 moves on, as does the Prisoner. He passes a canopied sign that says "Walk on the grass", climbs a wide flight of stone steps and reaches a paved area surrounding a long thin pond with a fountain at one end. Number 2, out of sight, starts speaking through a megaphone.
Number 2: Come along my dear fellow, don't be shy.
The Prisoner's way is blocked by a penny-farthing. An oldish gentleman in a boater approaches from the other side, performs the "Be seeing you" gesture and goes off with the bicycle. The little butler has also just walked past in a bowler hat and cape, holding an enormous black and white umbrella above his head. The Prisoner takes a pace forward. An elderly couple, brightly dressed, make the "Be seeing you" sign as they pass. The band can still be heard in the distance.
Couple: Beautiful day!
Number 2 is revealed to be standing in a bizarre tall pillared structure that overlooks the fountain area. He still has the megaphone to his mouth.
Number 2: They didn't settle for ages. Now they wouldn't leave for the world.
The Prisoner answers from some distance without the aid of a megaphone, but Number 2 hears him clearly.
Prisoner: You mean you brought them around to your way of thinking.
Number 2: They had a choice. Wait! Wait!
At which everything in the Village comes to a halt. The band stops playing and the Villagers become rooted to the spot. The only moving things are the Prisoner and Number 2...
Number 2: Be still!
... and a little white ball that bobs up and down at the top of the jet from the fountain. It suddenly inflates to enormous proportions and emits a low sinister rumbling whine. For some strange reason, one young man is standing in the middle of the pond, unfrozen. He cries out madly.
Number 2: Stop!
The young man runs from the pond, spinning round, arms outstretched.
Number 2: Turn back!
But the young man keeps running. The huge white ball suddenly flies towards him with a terrifying roar, engulfs him and suffocates him. We see him screaming as he dies inside the ball. Number 2 watches with a hint of a smile on his face. The Prisoner steps out of the whining ball's way as it bounces off across the grass. The Village suddenly comes back to life.
Prisoner: What was that?
Number 2: That would be telling.
Loudspeaker: Calling Number 2 -- ready for you at the Labour Exchange.
Number 2: Be right with you.
Number 2 is still speaking through his megaphone. He addresses the Prisoner, who looks understandably confused.
Number 2: Come along my dear fellow, bear to your left. Now straight ahead. Follow the signs.
The Prisoner sees several signs on his way: "Free sea" at the pond, "Repairs" on a canopied van, "Citizens' Advice Bureau", and finally "Labour Exchange". Number 2 approaches him outside.
Number 2: Well, how do you like it?
Number 2: It will grow on you.
There are two queues of Villagers standing motionless outside the Exchange. Number 2 and the Prisoner go inside, into a waiting room where several people are sitting, humming.
Clerk: Good morning, sir.
Number 2: Good morning.
Clerk: Go straight through.
Number 2: Thank you.
The Prisoner stares around him. The walls are covered with aphorisms such as "A still tongue makes a happy life", "Questions are a burden to others, answers a prison for oneself", "Honour is the natural expression of a democratic society" and "Of the people, by the people, for the people".
They enter a circular room with arches round the walls, a dais of lights in the ceiling, and a chair and table near the middle. The Labour Exchange Manager, a happy-looking man in a suit, stands behind a desk on which there is a giant wooden toy of cogs and dowels.
Number 2: Ah. This is our new friend.
Manager: Everything's ready, sir.
He turns to the Prisoner.
Manager: Will you sit down?
He doesn't. Number 2 does instead.
Nanager: Now, first of all, the aptitude test.
The Prisoner walks over to the table, picks up a black cylinder and lowers it into a square hole, from whose sides a black circle shrinks down and grabs the cylinder precisely. This makes Number 2 laugh delightedly.
Manager: And now the questionnaire. Just fill in your race, religion, hobbies...
He starts to play with the wooden toy, spinning the cogs with his finger.
Manager: ... what you like to read, what you like to eat... what you were, what you want to be... any family illnesses... any politics?
The Prisoner smashes the toy to the ground. The pieces go everywhere. He strides towards the door and leaves. Number 2 has been watching the outburst calmly. He puts a file down on the table.
Number 2: Never mind, you can get all you need from this.
The Manager is crawling around on the floor, frantically trying to put his toy back together. Number 2 ignores him.
Number 2: I think we have a challenge...
The Prisoner returns to his cottage, to find another maid there.
Prisoner: What are you doing here?
Maid: I'm your personal maid. Labour Exchange sent me.
Prisoner: That's another mistake they made. Get out.
Puzzled and slightly upset, she leaves by the front door (which she has to open herself). A whole wall of the room suddenly slides up into the ceiling, revealing the full extent of the Prisoner's new home. Comforting music is playing somewhere. The Prisoner walks up the four new carpeted stairs and immediately finds the "Welcome to your home from home" doll again. The music is emanating from a switchless radio on the mantelpiece. He passes through a round archway into the bedroom, where he examines the wardrobe. It is empty. He successfully outstares an orange lava-lamp in the corner, and glances into the bathroom (which has a sliding door).
He finds a bureau on the wall of his living room, opens it and pulls out a notepad. The first page is headed "Things to do today" and someone has scrawled "Don't forget to send thank you note for flowers at earliest" on it. On another part of the page, under "Today's memoranda" he finds the words "Arrived to-day, made very welcome". He opens a nearby drawer and finds a "Map of Your Village". It is the same large colourful one he looked at in the General Stores. He puts it back and slams the bureau shut. In the kitchen he finds one cupboard completely bare, whilst another cupboard is crammed full of tins of "village foods" -- mainly "pea soup" and "spaghetti". He picks up a couple of tins and listens as he shakes them.
The music is growing louder and louder. The Prisoner throws the tins down, and approaches the radio. He paces back and forth a couple of times, before turning the radio around (it has a speaker on the other side too) and hurling it to the floor. He kicks it and stamps on it, but the music refuses to die. Instead it is joined by the loudspeaker voice:
Voice: Attention, electrics department. Please go to Number 6, where adjustment is needed.
The Prisoner suddenly looks up as someone comes in. It is the maid.
Maid: I... forgot my---
He shouts at her from the top of his living-room steps.
Prisoner: How do you stop this thing?
Maid: We can't.
Prisoner: Why not?
Maid: It's automatic.
Prisoner: Who controls it?
Maid: I have no i---
Prisoner: Who runs this place?
Maid: I don't know!
He advances towards her.
Maid: I -- I really don't know!
Prisoner: Have you never wondered? Have you never tried to find out?... How long have you been here?
Maid: As long as I can remember.
Prisoner: And your parents?
Maid: They died when I was a child.
Prisoner: You don't remember them?
Maid: I've found out it's wiser not to ask questions. We have a saying here: "A still tongue makes a happy life".
Prisoner: People must have tried to get away from here. How many have succeeded?
Maid: ... Don't ask.
Prisoner: Has anyone ever escaped?
Maid: Some have tried. They've been brought back. Not always alive.
Prisoner: Go on. What are you afraid of?
She suddenly changes mood and makes for the door.
Maid: I've said too much.
She turns round...
Maid: What time tomorrow?
... and suddenly starts sobbing.
Maid: I know what you must think of me.
She sits down and gazes up at him pleadingly.
Maid: Put yourself into my position. They offered me my freedom in exchange.
Prisoner: Exchange for what?
Maid: To get into your confidence. Make you trust me. And tell them everything about you.
Prisoner: Then they'd let you go? You believe that? With that knowledge in your head, you really believe that they'd let you go?
Maid: I hadn't thought about that.
Prisoner: Obviously not.
Maid: They might. They might let me go. If you give me some sort of information. Oh please help me.
She stands up.
Maid: Please help me!
Prisoner: Your services will not be required tomorrow.
We cut abruptly to a vast room with a revolving seesaw in the middle. On each end of the seesaw sits a man peering into an observation instrument. This is the Control Room. Its walls are covered with maps of the planet Earth and its night sky. A large spherical sensor hangs in the centre, diffusing red light. The Prisoner's conversation with the maid is being relayed to an enormous screen in the Control Room, where a disturbing-looking man, completely bald, watches them intently.
Prisoner: Don't forget what you came back for.
On the screen, the maid stares at him in apparent disbelief, then turns, picks something up, and leaves.
In the Control Room, the bald Supervisor walks over to Number 2 who is leaning on a staircase.
Supervisor: She was most convincing. I felt sure she was going to pull it off.
Number 2: He's no ordinary man. This has got to be handled very differently.
Supervisor: That could be dangerous.
Number 2: You know how important this is.
Number 2 exits up the staircase, leaving the Supervisor to ponder.
In his cottage, the Prisoner looks out of the window and sees a canopied "Repairs" truck pull up outside. A moment later, a strange man in overalls comes in.
Electrician: Electrics, sir. Sorry about the intrusion.
Prisoner: Help yourself. Why do you drive those things?
The electrician puts a new radio on the table and taps it.
Music fills the house again.
Prisoner: ... the tractors.
Electrician: They're steady. Get you there in the end.
Prisoner: Bit slow.
Electrician: In an emergency, we walk.
Prisoner: I, er... I feel like a bit of a walk myself.
Electrician: Feel free.
The Prisoner does not move, but the door of his house opens ready for him.
Prisoner: Be seeing you.
Electrician: And you.
He leaves the electrician repairing the smashed radio, and goes on a tour of the Village. As he turns off the road to ascend a winding flight of steps, a man cycles past under a colourful umbrella.
Prisoner: Lovely day.
Man: Showers later.
Halfway up the steps he nearly bumps into a gardener with a basket of plants. The gardener is facially identical to the electrician.
Gardener: Careful sir, they're new plants.
They stare at each other awkwardly for a few seconds.
Prisoner: ... Goodbye...
We next see him emerging from some undergrowth, running up a hill, and then darting about in a bizarre grove full of unrelated stone busts on narrow pedestals. The huge whining ball starts to approach from the road, and the Prisoner avoids it by hiding in a bush. He continues walking through the grove, unaware that the statues behind him are swivelling to watch him. His every move is being observed by the Supervisor on the big screen in the Control Room. Lights flash in the busts' eyes. The Prisoner rounds a corner and finds that the whining bouncing ball has arrived before him. He runs past the staring statues to the other end of the grove, but the sphere is there as well. In the Control Room, the Supervisor raises an L-shaped phone to his mouth.
Supervisor: Attention post 14.
The Prisoner is trying in vain to find the way out.
Supervisor: Attention post 14, yellow alert.
Whichever way the Prisoner goes, he seems to come back to the Village square.
Supervisor: Yellow alert, yellow alert.
The Prisoner has climbed a turret which gives him a view of the beach.
Supervisor: Now leaving northern perimeter... Number 6, repeat, Number... 6.
Both men are aware that a vehicle has just driven onto the beach.
Supervisor: Now approaching.... contact imminent.... contact imminent...
The Prisoner jumps down from a rock and starts to run along the beach. The vehicle chases him across the sands, and he eventually trips and falls. One of the thugs in the vehicle leaps out to see him off, but the Prisoner is back on his feet in time to punch the man down. The driver of the vehicle tries to ram the Prisoner, but he jumps aside, runs along behind the vehicle, and manages to climb aboard and get rid of the driver.
Supervisor: Northern area... Number 6... heading for outer zone, in our vehicle. Orange alert...
But the Prisoner has not got far before he encounters the inevitable whining ball. He throws himself out of the vehicle to avoid it and punches it desperately; but it rolls onto him and engulfs him. The Prisoner screams soundlessly inside the ball and it lets him go. He drops to the ground and lies there motionless. The ball remains, guarding him.
Supervisor: Orange alert, all units.
An ambulance appears as the Prisoner begins to stir. He is lifted to his feet and carried away.
The Prisoner sits up suddenly. He is in pyjamas in a hospital bed. An elderly woman sits in a rocking chair, knitting. She casts an enormous looming shadow on the wall behind the Prisoner.
Woman: How are you feeling, son? You've had a nasty experience.
Prisoner: Where am I?
Woman: You're in the hospital, son.
The Prisoner makes as if to get up.
Woman: There, don't exert yourself.
She stands up.
Woman: I'll just tell the doctor that you're awake.
She moves away weirdly. Her rocking chair continues rocking on its own. The Prisoner thinks he is alone in the ward, until he spies a familiar face in a nearby bed.
He gets out of bed and goes over to the other man. He speaks in a whisper.
Cobb opens his eyes and looks to see who's there.
Cobb: What are you doing here?
Prisoner: And you?
Cobb: Don't know... Can't remember much...
Prisoner: How long have you been here?
The Prisoner glances nervously around him to check that nobody's watching. Cobb is completely dazed.
Cobb: Three... four weeks... months... It's difficult to work out.
Prisoner: What happened to you?... What are they doing?
Cobb: They keep asking me questions. They want to know all about me.
Prisoner: Have you told them?
Cobb: No. I don't know... I'm so tired... I must sleep...
He turns onto his side, but the Prisoner grabs him by the lapel of his pyjamas.
Prisoner: No, this is important! Who brought you here? How did you get here? Who brought you?
Cobb: I was in Germany. I remember going back to my hotel... I went into the bedroom... I think I went to bed... then I was here.
A white-coated doctor has entered the ward unseen by the Prisoner.
Doctor: What are you doing out of bed? You should be resting.
The Prisoner gets up from Cobb's bedside to face the doctor.
Prisoner: There's nothing the matter with me.
Doctor: Perhaps not. But I'd just like to check up to make sure.
Prisoner: ... I'm all right. I want to leave.
Doctor: Let me be the judge of that. The after-effects can be quite unpleasant. I'd like to put my mind at rest. Please come with me.
Smiling, he hands him a dressing gown. The Prisoner takes it.
Prisoner: What if I don't?
Doctor: It's for your own good. I advise you to.
Prisoner: ... Very well.
As he puts the dressing gown on and follows the doctor out of the ward, Cobb stares blankly after them.
Doctor: There's nothing to worry about, the tests are quite routine.
They are now in one of the corridors of the hospital. A door with a round window catches the Prisoner's attention. Behind it he sees a long passage filled with red light. Straight-jacketed patients sit motionlessly facing each other. The scene is immensely bizarre.
Doctor: Group therapy. Counteracts obsessional guilt complexes producing neurosis.
As they continue down the corridor, an insane-looking bald man is escorted past them with electrodes stuck all over his his head. They reach the door to the Examination Room. The Prisoner glances back towards the group-therapy window before entering.
Doctor: There we are. Sit down.
Prisoner: If I agree to this...
Doctor: My dear fellow, if you're fit there's no reason to keep you here. Of course if you have a relapse, you may have to come back.
The doctor busies himself setting up various bits of equipment. There is a pair of slippers by the Prisoner's feet.
Prisoner: My size?
Doctor: Naturally. Now, just relax...
He pulls down an enormous panel of lights, of the type more at home in an operating theatre. The Prisoner has to squint to see.
Doctor: Now... just listen to the old ticker...
He puts his stethoscope into his ears and places the other end on the Prisoner's chest.
Doctor: Excuse me.
Number 2 is sitting in his spherical chair, watching the proceedings. He is on the phone to someone.
Number 2: No, he's having his medical... ... Mm-hmm... ... No, of course not... No, of course we don't mind. One has to make sure of these things.
The doctor is now typing some information into a computer. The tape drives spin into action, lines dance on an oscilloscope, and a punched card emerges. The doctor examines the card briefly.
Doctor: There you are. Everything's in order -- you're absolutely fit.
Doctor: I told you. You're free to go in the morning. We'll fix you up with some new clothes.
The Prisoner rises from his chair.
Prisoner: What about my old ones?
Doctor: They've been burnt.
Doctor: I'll take you to your ward.
He opens the door for the Prisoner. Outside, the sound of deranged laughter can be heard from the group therapy window. The Prisoner looks in. The rows of straight-jacketed patients have inexplicably disappeared, but at the far end of the corridor the mad bald man is sitting gibbering contentedly to himself. He seems to be in some way controlling the height of a small round object floating in mid-air in front of him. The most disturbing thing of all is that he is wearing the Prisoner's old clothes (unburnt).
Doctor: Ah, he's coming along nicely.
Suddenly an alarm bell sounds and they run back to the ward.
Doctor: What's happened?
Assistant: The amnesia case, sir -- Cobb -- he's jumped out of the window. He's dead!
It is the next morning. A white-coated orderly is escorting the Prisoner out of the hospital, which turns out to resemble a mediaeval castle. The orderly holds a wallet, from which he pulls various cards all labelled "6".
Orderly: Here's your employment card, your card of identity, your health and welfare card, your credit card -- and a free ride home.
The orderly departs. The main feature of the Prisoner's new outfit is a dark jacket with a white trim. He also wears a dark polo-neck sweater, a pair of fawn trousers, and dark shoes with thick white soles. He climbs into the waiting taxi and immediately discards the umbrella and boater with which he has been issued. Most significantly, he rips the circular badge from his jacket lapel -- it shows the number 6 in the centre of the larger wheel of a penny-farthing. The taxi drives off, but the Prisoner grabs the handbrake and halts his ride at the foot of the steps that lead up to the Green Dome.
He runs up the steps, through the front door (which opens without him having to ring), through the white doors (which open automatically), past the butler, through the sliding doors (which are already open), and down the ramp into Number 2's office. The spherical chair swivels round, but someone else is sitting in it.
Prisoner: Get him.
New 2: I have taken his place. I am the new Number 2.
Prisoner: Get Number 1.
New 2: As far as you're concerned, I'm in charge. What can I do for you?
New 2: What we do here has to be done. It's the law of survival, it's either them or us.
Prisoner: You imprison people, steal their minds, destroy them...
Behind him, the screen shows nothing but huge floating orange bubbles.
New 2: It depends whose side you're on, doesn't it?
Prisoner: I'm on our side.
New 2: Then we have to find out where your sympathies lie.
Prisoner: You know where they lie.
The new Number 2 has picked up the Prisoner's file and now reads from it.
Number 2: "Subject shows great enthusiasm for his work. He is utterly devoted and loyal." Is this a man that suddenly walks out?
Prisoner: And I didn't walk out. I resigned.
Number 2: People change, exactly. So do loyalties.
Prisoner: Not mine.
Number 2: All very commendable. But let's be practical. I'm interested in facts. Your only chance to get out of here is to give them to me. And if you don't give them, I'll take them.
The Prisoner turns to leave.
Number 2: It's up to you, think about it. Good day, Number 6.
Prisoner: Number what?
Number 2: Six. For official purposes. Everyone has a number. Yours is number six.
Prisoner: I am not a number, I am a person.
Number 2: Six of one, a half a dozen of another!
The Prisoner strides up the ramp, but the doors do not open.
Number 2: Good day!
The Prisoner turns for an explanation, but Number 2 has picked up a phone and is now dictating into it.
Number 2: Report on Number 6. Normal classification.
The doors open for the Prisoner, but he waits.
Number 2: On arrival, subject showed shock symptoms followed by accepted behaviour pattern.
The Prisoner leaves.
Number 2: Since then, has been uncooperative and distinctly aggressive. Attempted to escape. Subject proving exceptionally difficult, but in view of his importance no extreme measures to be used yet.
Back in his cottage, the Prisoner hears the Radetski March once more. He opens a side door and steps out onto a tiny balcony. The band are marching past in full colours -- with a coffin in a colourful hearse. It is Cobb's funeral. The "mourners" carry black umbrellas to signify as much. Some way behind them a youngish woman (Number 9) in a bright cape wanders sadly along. The Prisoner dashes out after her through the Village streets.
He catches up with her on a hilltop overlooking the beach graveyard. The funeral procession has just arrived below them.
Prisoner: Friend of yours?
She immediately starts to run, but the Prisoner grabs her.
Prisoner: You knew him?
Number 9: No!
Prisoner: You're crying.
Number 9: Funerals make me emotional.
Prisoner: Even those of people you don't know?
Number 9: Yes.
Prisoner: I knew Cobb. I'd like to help.
Number 9: He's dead.
Prisoner: He was a friend of mine. We met some time ago.
Number 9: How do I know I can trust you?
Prisoner: Can I trust you?
Number 9: You know how he died?
Prisoner: He jumped from a window.
She looks away suddenly.
Prisoner: I'm sorry... Had you known him long?
Number 9: No. Just a short while.
Prisoner: Where did you meet?
Number 9 looks alarmed.
Number 9: Yes... Yes!
Prisoner: Cobb was a good man.
The Village bell begins to chime.
Number 9: Get back, quickly.
The Prisoner grabs her.
Prisoner: When can we talk again?
Number 9: We'd better not.
Prisoner: We must.
Number 9 becomes desperate.
Number 9: ... Twelve o'clock... at the concert!
She flees. The Prisoner gazes up at the chiming bell-tower and then hurries away himself.
It is now twelve o'clock. The concert is being staged in a peculiarly ornate bandstand near the central square. The brass band plays rousing music. Number 9 arrives and sits beside the Prisoner who is waiting in the audience. They speak in hushed tones.
Prisoner: Thought you weren't coming.
Number 9: I want to help.
Number 9: I know a way out. We planned an escape.
Prisoner: They found out?
Number 9: No, they came sooner than Cobb expected.
Prisoner: He was expecting them?
As they speak, they pretend to be merely looking round and enjoying the musical programme. Number 9 opens a book and they pretend to be interested in it.
Number 9: In here, you have only so much time to give them what they want before they take it from you.
Her voice becomes still more of a whisper.
Number 9: His time had come and so will yours. Can you... fly a helicopter?
Prisoner: I might.
Number 9: It's due here at two o'clock. Only stays a couple of hours each trip.
Prisoner: How's it guarded?
Number 9: Electronically. You'll need an electropass.
Prisoner: A what?
Number 9: An electropass. It's synchronized with the alarm system and lets you through.
Prisoner: Where do I get it?
Number 9: From me.
Prisoner: Where is it?
Number 9: Safely hidden.
Prisoner: If this gadget is so important, how did you get one?
Number 9 seems distressed.
Number 9: I knew the last pilot...
Prisoner: You did this for Cobb?
Number 9 does not answer for a few seconds.
Number 9: ... I'll meet you by the stone boat at two o'clock. Goodbye.
She hurries off. The band concludes the piece it was playing, the audience applaud and the conductor turns to them and nods his thanks. The Prisoner follows Number 9 at a distance to see where she goes. He has his previously rejected umbrella with him. The trail ends at the Green Dome.
Inside, the new Number 2 is dictating into a phone again:
Number 2: He has not volunteered any information so far, but appears to be settling down. He even attended the regular brass band concert today.
He addresses someone else in the room.
Number 2: Thank you, my dear. More tea?
The other person is Number 9, looking uncomfortable. When she speaks, her voice is very feeble.
Number 9: Thank you.
He pours her a cup of tea.
Number 2: You've done very well. Pity about Cobb. Still, it wasn't your fault. Never mind. There's no blot on your record.
He passes her a dossier.
Number 2: You'll find the details of your new assignment in here. We shall be watching your progress with great interest.
She opens the dossier and finds a picture of the Prisoner inside.
Down by the stone boat, the Prisoner is playing chess with the ex-admiral.
Admiral: Come along young man, we haven't got all day.
Prisoner: Ah yes, I'm sorry.
As he makes his move, a helicopter flies in behind him. He turns to watch it.
Admiral: Your mind's not on the game.
Prisoner: My apologies, er...
Number 9 has also seen the helicopter arrive. She steps out from an alcove and walks alongside the quayside in full view of the Prisoner who is sitting on the terrace above. He keeps his eye on her.
The Prisoner is only half-listening.
Admiral: I'll give you another chance.
Prisoner: No, no, if you'll excuse me, I'm not on form today, I think I'll just take a little stroll.
Admiral: Try the boat.
He points his thumb at the stone boat behind him.
Admiral: I said try the boat. She's great in any weather. Sailed her many a time. Have a good trip.
The Prisoner smiles humouringly.
As the Prisoner walks away, the Admiral starts humming "What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor" to himself. The incidental music picks this up as the Prisoner joins Number 9 in the stone boat. They sit down on a bench. She takes off her watch and gives it to him.
Number 9: Here, the electropass. Hurry, there's not much time.
Prisoner: Who gave you this? Your boss?
Number 9: What do you mean?
Prisoner: What were you doing in Number 2's house?
Number 9: You saw me?
Prisoner: I saw you leave. After you'd made your report. You're assigned to me.
Number 9: I was assigned to Cobb too.
Prisoner: And you'd betray me in the same way.
Number 9: I haven't betrayed either of you. We were trying to get out before it was too late. Soon it'll be too late for you.
She gets up, but he grabs her again.
Prisoner: You're coming.
Number 9: No!
Prisoner: Why not?
Number 9: I never intended to without him.
Prisoner: You're coming with me.
Number 9: Go, and go now before it's too late.
She breaks free and rushes away. He watches her climb up to the terrace, from where she watches him make his way casually towards the helicopter's landing pad. He passes the butler, still walking about with his black and white umbrella.
The helicopter is guarded by the whining ball. As the Prisoner approaches, the electropass starts bleeping and flashing -- the three hands on its dial spin in time. He decides to go for it. The white ball rolls towards him as he edges towards the helicopter door, but it lets him climb aboard. Safely in the cockpit, he pockets the bleeping electropass and takes off. The Village falls away below him. Number 9 watches him fly off into the blue sky, and then sits down at a parasolled table.
In the Control Room, the Prisoner's flight is being watched on the big screen by Number 2 and another man (whom we cannot identify because he has his back to us). Number 2 suddenly gives a signal and one of the technicians in the Control Room pulls a hefty lever. The Prisoner immediately loses control of the helicopter. Number 2 watches like a gleeful child as the helicopter is slowly turned back towards the Village.
On the terrace, Number 9 watches sadly.
Admiral: Game of chess, my dear?
She looks round.
Number 9: I don't play.
Admiral: You should learn.
He beckons to her, and she comes and sits opposite him at the chessboard.
Admiral: We're all pawns, my dear... Your move!
Number 2 signals again and the technician pulls the lever further back. The Prisoner lets go of the joystick; it moves about on its own. Number 2 continues giving signals, and the helicopter is eventually brought back to its pad in the Village.
Number 2 turns to the unknown man, who is now revealed to be Cobb, alive and well. He wears a suit and carries a bowler hat and umbrella.
Number 2: I think I'll let him keep the watch, Cobb. Just to remind him escape is not possible.
Cobb: Don't be too hard on the girl. She was most upset at my funeral.
Number 2: Don't worry, she'll be well taken care of.
Cobb: Yes, that's what I was afraid of.
He climbs the stairs, past Number 2.
Cobb: Ah well, I'd better be going. Got a long journey. Mustn't keep my new masters waiting.
Number 2: They'll be delighted with you. Give them our compliments.
Cobb: I will. And I'll tell them there are no loopholes.
Number 2: I appreciate that. I do hope that your stay had its lighter moments. Au revoir.
He makes the "Be seeing you" sign to Cobb.
Cobb: You'll find him a tough nut to crack. Auf Wiedersehen.
And Cobb be-seeings Number 2 as he leaves. We see the Prisoner step grimly from the helicopter. He is ushered away by the white ball. Meanwhile, on the lawn marked "Residents only", the butler in his cape and bowler hat strides towards us with his umbrella high above his head. The music peaks and the screen drops to black as we close in on the umbrella...
Suddenly an image of the Prisoner's face flies out from an aerial shot of the Village, and prison bars slam shut on him.
Next episode: The Chimes of Big Ben
Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner
Virginia Maskell as The Woman [Number 9]
Guy Doleman as Number 2
Paul Eddington as Cobb
George Baker as the New Number 2
Angelo Muscat as the Butler
Barbara Yu Ling as Taxi Driver
Stephanie Randall as the Maid
Jack Allen as the Doctor
Fabia Drake as the Welfare Worker [Knitting Woman]
Denis Shaw as the Shopkeeper
Oliver MacGreevy as the Gardener/Electrician
Frederick Piper as the Ex-Admiral
Patsy Smart as the Waitress
Christopher Benjamin as the Labour Exchange Manager
Peter Swanwick as the Supervisor
David Garfield as the Hospital Attendant
Peter Brace as the 1st Guardian
Keith Peacock as the 2nd Guardian
Episode written by George Markstein and David Tomblin
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: Lee Doig
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!"