Big Finish revives The Prisoner

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  • #1345

    Whoooooa there, Big Finish Horse. Treadin’ on sacred ground here. [LINK]

    Big Finish is proud to announce that it has entered into a licence agreement with ITV Studios Global Entertainment to produce a series of full-cast audio dramas based on the world renowned, cult classic 1967 TV series, The Prisoner — bursting with state-of-the-art sound design and a brand new dramatic score.

    January 16th 1967. A secret agent suddenly resigns from MI6, then wakes to find himself imprisoned in ‘The Village’ — a bizarre community with a cheery veneer, but an underbelly of threat and mystery. Re-branded as Number Six, our agent must enter into a battle of wits with the sinister Number Two, whose sworn aim is to discover why Number Six resigned. But Number Six refuses to divulge his secrets and must fight off increasingly outlandish and deadly attempts to break him, as he fights to escape and find out…
    ‘Who is Number One?’.

    The new audio series of The Prisoner is to be written and directed by Big Finish’s co-executive producer, Nicholas Briggs: ‘The Prisoner has been a great love of mine for many years, ever since my late father told me all about it back in the 1960s. It actually premiered on British TV in 1967 on my sixth birthday! I finally got the chance to see it as a teenager when ITV repeated it on Saturday evenings in 1977. I instantly fell in love with the series and have been avidly re-watching it ever since. The chance to re-imagine the 1967 series for audio drama is a great privilege and I can’t wait to get started — actually, I’ve already started.’

    The new audio version of The Prisoner will be very much based on the original, which starred Patrick McGoohan. ‘It won’t simply be a slavish retelling of all the original episodes,’ explains Nick. ‘But aficionados of the original series will certainly recognise much of what they loved about it. A lot of the familiar iconography will be there, but my aim is to push the boundaries, all the while pursuing McGoohan’s stated agenda of the fight against rampant progress and dehumanisation.’

    No casting decisions have yet been made. ‘For Number Six, we’re looking for someone who can portray that vital determination and anger, creating a lethal package of dynamite charisma’ says Nick. ‘They need to be compelling and powerful as well as having great enthusiasm for the series.’

    The first box set, not due out until this time next year, can be pre-ordered here.

    At the very least, it has to be better than that AMC remake, or as I call it, “A show I’m calling the Prisoner and loosely based upon my memories of watching the Prisoner while being high sometime in 1988”.

    #6849

    For a terrifying moment I thought it was George Lopez. I’m more nervous about this Big Finish outing than any other in recent history. I have no doubt that they can do Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 and Survivors justice. But The Prisoner? They’re boldly going where others have tried, and failed horribly. Please don’t suck please don’t suck please don’t suck

    Big Finish is delighted to confirm that actor Mark Elstob has been cast in the leading role of Number Six in its brand new audio revival of The Prisoner.

    The new production is based on the highly influential 1967-’68 ITV series, which starred Patrick McGoohan as a former spy imprisoned in the mysterious ‘Village’. Desperate to learn his secrets, the Village’s authorities used ever more ingenious methods to bend Number Six to their will — including the iconic ‘Rover’, a menacing, howling ball-like object.

    Mark is known for his many stage appearances, including Present Laughter, Neville’s Island, The Importance of Being Earnest, Sir Peter Hall’s Hamlet and Steven Berkoff’s Salome, as well as for his year in Emmerdale as Andrew Fraser. He was chosen for the part of Number Six after an extensive search by writer/director and producer Nicholas Briggs.

    ‘I knew, of course, that the casting of Number Six was pivotal,” says Nick. “Patrick McGoohan was the driving force of the original series, both on and off-screen. The new central performance would have to be every bit as powerful in its own way. I did a lot of searching and listening to clips and showreels.

    ‘I had meetings, I spoke to actors and agents. I looked further and wider than I’d ever done for any Big Finish casting. And then I realised that I’d worked with the ideal person, long, long ago. An actor who was a brilliant, powerful leading man — Mark Elstob. There was one other key ingredient I was looking for. Someone for whom doing The Prisoner would mean something. Someone who knew the series. I didn’t know Mark was a fan of The Prisoner, but I knew he was a fan of Doctor Who, so I harboured a hope that, as someone interested in cult TV, he’d at least have heard of The Prisoner. As luck would have it, he is as nuts about the series as I am. We had a meeting — and there, sitting in front of me was my new Number Six. I was certain.’

    Mark Elstob: ‘Patrick MacGoohan’s The Prisoner is a bona fide classic, representing a high watermark of television. In the hierarchy of British TV fantasy, Number Six has a status perhaps matched only by Quatermass and Doctor Who. For me personally, to play this part is more than just a great job for an actor, it is the stuff of which a fan’s dreams are made. Thank you, Big Finish!’

    The administrative head of ‘The Village’ is Number Two, and throughout the original series Number Six found himself pitted against a series of different authority figures in this role. The audio series follows the same template, with different actors appearing in the part. John Standing (V for Vendetta, The Elephant Man, 8 1⁄2 Women), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Highlander), Ramon Tikaram (This Life, Fortitude, Stella, Man Down) and Michael Cochrane (Sharpe, The Archers, The Iron Lady) will each appear as Number Two, subjecting Number Six to a variety of ordeals.

    ‘I remember explaining to Celia Imrie that they used to hire whichever marvellous, fruity actor was available to play Number Two for each episode,’ says Nick. ‘For The Prisoner: Volume 1, I opted to echo this policy, dipping into the impressive back-catalogue of actors Big Finish has been lucky enough to work with. And I can confirm that they are all not only fruity and marvellous, but by turns terrifying and mesmerising.’

    Other inhabitants of the Village include Sara Powell as Number Nine, Kristina Buikaite as Number Eight and Jez Fielder as Number 17 — with Helen Goldwyn as the Village Voice, Jim Barclay as Control and Barnaby Edwards as Number Two’s diminutive Butler. Sarah Mowat plays the role of Zero-Six-Two, a former accomplice of Number Six.

    The Prisoner: Volume 1 is released in January 2016 and is available to pre-order now. This set contains four one-hour episodes, a Behind-the-Scenes audio documentary, and a lavish colour booklet.

    #6850

    The Prisoner turns 50 next year and will be back in audio form…plus, the first episode is now a freebie. [LINK]

    ‘I don’t think I’ve made any secret of the fact that our initial announcement of Big Finish producing The Prisoner received one of the most negative responses any announcement we’d made had ever received. People love The Prisoner and they didn’t want anyone mucking about with it. Totally understandable. Which is why it was so doubly fantastic for us when, upon release, the series received almost universal praise and great reviews. And as the months have passed, more and more Prisoner fans have told us of how they overcame their trepidation, gave our audio reimagining a go and ended up loving it. It feels like a thoroughly rewarding vindication of the risk we took, remaking such a well-loved classic on audio.’

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the broadcast of the first episode of The Prisoner, the release of The Prisoner – Volume 2 is being moved to August 2017, letting us celebrate the anniversary in Big Finish style, as well as having the title on general release for the anniversary itself.

    ‘I’m working on the scripts now,’ says Nick, ‘and I’m really excited about this being a special, anniversary release. I’ve always promised the same mix of three adaptations and an entirely new episode, but things have slightly altered during the writing process. We’ll be releasing some story titles and details soon!’

    If you’ve yet to hear any of Big Finish’s celebrated take on The Prisoner, then the first episode from The Prisoner: Departure And Arrival in its entirety is available from today for free as a download.

    Go listen to the first episode here; Big Finish Prisoner is probably more true to the contours of the original than any attempt to revive it in any medium has been so far.

    #6851
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    The big question on my mind – on everyone’s mind, I would think – is that…

    will there be turkey wraps in the show?

    That right there will tell me if the show will work or not. 😉

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