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The Prisoner

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Prisoner: Hammer Into Anvil The Prisoner
"Hammer Into Anvil"
Audio Drama
Written by Nicholas Briggs
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Released August 2017


Number 6's former nemesis Thorpe becomes the new Number 2.


Notes from the Prisoner chronology


This episode picks up soon after the events of "Project Six".


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Number 1 (mentioned only)

Number 6

Number 2/Thorpe

Kate Butterworth (mentioned only)

Village Voice

the Butler

Number 48 (dies in this episode)

Number 26/Operations Controller/Janet


Curtis (mentioned only)

assistant to Operations Controller



Didja Know?


The Big Finish version of The Prisoner is an audio drama reimagining of the classic 1967 TV series of the same name.


The series can occasionally be heard on the BBC Radio website.


    This episode is loosely based on the original TV series episode of the same name. In that original episode, the actor portraying Number 2 is the same one who previously played Thorpe in "Many Happy Returns", though in the original episodes, it's not clear whether they are intended to be the same person. Here, however, Number 2 is definitely identified as Thorpe by Number 6.

   This episode also has an element of the original TV series episode "Fall Out".




Didja Notice?


At the beginning of the episode, Number 6 awakens from a nightmare that ended with the maniacal laughter of Number 1 (seemingly Number 6 himself) from the end of the previous episode, "Project Six".


Number 2/Thorpe claims that Number 6's encounter with Number 1 and the journey by underground train to North Wales to "the Village" was a drug-induced hallucination. But is that true? Or are the powers-that-be covering their tracks? Later, Number 2/Thorpe doesn't even seem to remember this earlier exchange and, indeed, Number 6 seems to go through a short series of hallucinations before the real story begins.


Number 2/Thorpe seems to imply that the diminutive Butler once served at the headquarters of the spy agency he and Number 6 once worked for.


Number 2 speaks to Number 6 in German, "Du musst amboss oder hammer sein," correctly identifying it as a quote from Goethe. Number 6 correctly translates this as, "You must be anvil or hammer." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German writer and diplomat; the full quote attributed to him is “You must either conquer and rule or serve and lose, suffer or triumph, be the anvil or the hammer.” Goethe seems to imply the strength to the hammer here, but the famous English novelist George Orwell (1903-1950) reverses it, writing in his essay "Politics and the English Language", "In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about." If Number 6 is the anvil as Number 2 tells him here, then Orwell was correct, as he brings about the fall of this particular Number 2 by the end of this episode.


After being run through by a sword wielded by Number 2/Thorpe, Number 6 awakens in the Village hospital to the sounds of Number 48 in hysterics during interrogation by Number 2/Thorpe.


This episode reveals that the Operations Controller is Number 26. This is the number the Supervisor had in the original TV series. Both characters fulfill a similar role, though the Supervisor was male, while the Operations Controller is female and seemingly one of several clones.


When Number 6 asks Number 26 what her name is, he adds, "Don't tell me it's Curtis? Or are you named after someone else's pet rabbit?" Curtis was the name of Number 6's clone in "The Schizoid Man", which the Number 2 in that episode claimed was the name of her pet rabbit when she was a child.


When the Operations Controller asks about the music box Number 6 bought for a "beautiful woman", he responds, "Fishing?" He may be asking her if she's fishing for a compliment, i.e. she's the "beautiful woman".


Number 6 reveals to the Operations Controller that he knows where the hidden microphones are in his cottage.


The Operations Controller reveals that her name is Janet. Apparently she is not a clone of Number 6's fiancé also named Janet, though possibly she was given that name to mock him.


Like the previous Number 2's quest to break Number 6 was called Project Six, Thorpe refers to his as Project Anvil.


At the end of this episode, Number 6 is tricked into stepping into a rocket which then blasts off from the Village. This is similar to what happened to Number 1 (a physical double of Number 6) near the end of the original TV series episode "Fall Out".

Memorable Dialog

lost track of reality.mp3
you are Thorpe.mp3
the faintest intention.mp3
far more.mp3
you prefer to conduct your atrocities in private.mp3
the difference between conversation and confrontation.mp3
do you clones swap jobs?.mp3
a psychopath as a boss.mp3
enjoy your day.mp3
a porcelain pig.mp3
I'm not sure we have anything like that.mp3
it's never locked.mp3
is it a crime.mp3
I'd be grateful.mp3
answerable to Number 1.mp3
are you really Number 1?.mp3
Number 2, are you all right?.mp3
I'm the hammer.mp3

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