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The Prisoner
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138-at-popapostle-dot-com
The Prisoner: Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling The Prisoner
"Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling"
TV episode
Written by Vincent Tilsley
Directed by Pat Jackson
Original air date: December 22, 1967

 

Number 6's mind is transferred into another man's body.

 

Read the complete story summary at Wikipedia

 

Special thanks to PopApostle reader Thomas W. in Austria for his contributing notes for this study! You'll see his name noted several times below.

 

Didja Notice?

 

Unusually for The Prisoner, this episode opens with a teaser introductory scene before going into an altered version of the opening titles with some different music and no verbal interchange between Number 6 and Number 2. The music that plays in the scene is to the tune of the Scottish folk song "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean"; the melody is heard several times in the course of the episode.

 

An intelligence officer called Sir Charles Portland hosts a meeting, presumably in London, for a report on the meaning behind some photographic slides that were part of a past mission in which Number 6 participated before his retirement. The locations in the photos are identified as Loch Ness, the Yorkshire Moors, Dartford, the Eiffel Tower, and Beachy Head (seen previously in "Many Happy Returns").

 

The man known only as the Colonel appears in this episode, but it is not the same Colonel (possibly named James) who appeared in "Many Happy Returns".

 

At 5:17 on the Blu-ray, it can be seen that the Mini-Moke taxi carries Number 6 in the back seat, not the Colonel. The shot was borrowed from a previous episode.

 

The Colonel says he was sent to the Village on "the highest authority". Who was that highest authority? Number 1? Sir Charles? The Prime Minister? The Queen? (Of course, it's possible that Number 1 is one of those last three people, though probably not the Queen since, on the phone with a superior we presume to be Number 1, the person has been called "sir").

 

Number 2 and the Colonel discuss the advanced techniques of yogis in India who are reportedly capable of thought transference and dissociation of mind and body such that the body can remain in suspended animation for months. In the real world, many incredible claims have been made for the most advanced yogis, but rarely, if ever, proven scientifically. In this episode, Dr. Jacob Seltzman is said to have studied in India for many years and has since managed to technologically transfer the psyche of one person into another. This is the secret that Number 6 knew about in the earlier mission involving the photographs.

 

Number 2 shows the Colonel the Amnesia Room, where, after getting all of the information they want from an individual, they can wipe out all memories of the Village and put them back into circulation to gather more information. Could this be why there are so many inhabitants in the Village with the same number assigned throughout the episodes? That is, if Number 8, for example, completes her assigned task in the Village or gives Number 2 the information the powers-that-be are looking for, her memory of the Village is wiped and she is returned to her life; meanwhile, a new resident will be assigned her former number. This could even potentially mean that Number 6 has been to the Village before and had his memory of it erased! And, if he somehow learned of this process, it could be why he retired from the agency he worked for in "Arrival"!

 

The man in the Amnesia Room is hooked up to a Newmark pulseometer. A similar device is seen to be part of the Seltzman machine as well. Newmark was a manufacturer of electronic scientific devices in the 1960s. As far as I can tell, they are no longer in business.

 

When the Village security men pull Number 6 from his cottage, he is seen to be struggling. But when they pull away in the Mini-Moke, he is still and apparently unconscious. Did they suddenly drug him or clout him on the head?

 

A Roband oscilloscope is seen as part of the Seltzman machine at 9:07 on the Blu-ray. Roband no longer makes oscilloscopes, but did at the time.

 

The view out the front door of Number 6's London apartment home at 13:10 on the Blu-ray is not what is actually across the street from his address of 1 Buckingham Place.
View out the front door Across the street from 1 Buckingham Place
View out the front door Across the street from 1 Buckingham Place (from Google Maps)

 

It's a little obvious (and annoying) that Number 6's fiancé, Janet, never uses his name when we see them together throughout the episode!

 

The small statue sitting on a half-table in the hallway of Number 6's London apartment at 15:21 on the Blu-ray looks as if it may be Atlas, of Greek mythology, carrying the celestial sphere on his shoulders.

 

Number 6 and Janet both realize it has been a year since they've seen each other, just before her birthday. This would seem to imply that Number 6 has been in the Village for about a year, maybe a little less if he was on a secret mission for a time after his last meeting with Janet and before his resignation (and which may have also been wiped from his memory.

 

Janet is revealed to the be the daughter of Sir Charles.

 

The bureaucrat Number 6 visits at the agency in a near-replay of his resignation scene from "Arrival" is a different actor than seen in that prior episode. The original actor was actually the show's script editor, George Markstein. By this point in the series, Markstein had been fired by Patrick McGoohan, so a real actor was brought in. This bureaucrat is named Jonathan Peregrine Danvers; the original man went unnamed.

 

The wall map behind the bureaucrat is seen to be a Phillips New Commercial Map of the World.

 

Number 6 rattles off a list of facts about Danvers to prove he's not a stranger to the agency. He says that Danvers was born in Bootle. Bootle is a real town in the county of Merseyside in northwest England.

 

Number 6 reveals that some of his past code names were: Duval, in France; Schmidt, in Germany; and code number ZM73. (Number 6 pronounces his code number as "Zed-M 73", as "zed" is the Commonwealth English word for the letter Z; in American English the letter is "zee").

 

Number 6's German identity is interesting in that "Schmidt" is the German form of "Smith", which is the name he gave to Mrs. Butterworth in his old London apartment in "Many Happy Returns" and that name, Peter Smith, somewhat sounded like he could have been giving her his real name at the time.

 

The man who finally meets with Number 6 in the bureaucrat's office is code number PR12.

 

The unusual open-compartment elevator Number 6 rides in with PR12 is called a paternoster.

 

Sir Charles is said to be a keen rosarian. A rosarian is one who is a cultivator of roses.

 

To prove he is ZM73, Number 6 relates a personal incident of Sir Charles about Charles trimming his bacarras by the goldfish pool and dropping the secateurs when Number 6 asked for permission to marry his daughter. The next day, Sir Charles had taken him to lunch at his club and they ate their mutual favorite meal, jugged hare. Bacarras are black (actually very deep red or purple) roses. Secateurs are pruning shears. Jugged hare is a type of stew cooked with a whole hare.

 

After his disappointing meeting with Sir Charles, Number 6 drives through London on his way back to his apartment, passing many of the same roadmarks seen in the opening titles. The same hearse that carried away his unconscious body from his London apartment in "Arrival" also follows him here. In fact, many of the driving shots are reuse of the ones from "Arrival" or probably unused shots from those scenes; some of the shots even appear to have Patrick McGoohan driving, not actor Nigel Stock as Number 6 in the Colonel's body.

 

The hearse somehow arrives ahead of Number 6, waiting for him down the block from his apartment. Possibly, Number 6 went somewhere else first or drove for a while to clear his head before heading home.

 

The hearse driver wears a top hat with a black veil on the back.

 

PopApostle reader Thomas W. points out: "After meeting Sir Charles when N.6 returns to his home the hearse parks about two carlengths behind N.6 Lotus, when the camera switches to above, McGoohan gets out of the Lotus and the hearse disappeared. When switching back to the street camera the hearse is there again."

 

Number 6 finds that his handwriting is the same even though he is in the Colonel's body.

 

Number 6 opens a hidden safe behind the television in his apartment.

 

Once again, the Village garden from "The General" is used as a London location for Janet's birthday party, as it was for the (other) Colonel's office and patio in "Many Happy Returns". It's possible this is intended to be the same location from "Many Happy Returns".

 

The waiter who serves champagne to Number 6 at the party is the same man who was driving the hearse that followed him earlier.

 

At about 25:54 on the Blu-ray, a thin pole can be seen waving around from off stage right (the left-hand side of the screen) during the shot of many dancers on the floor. It is likely a crewmember using the pole to lightly tap the dancing extras so they know where the boundary of the set is as they pay attention to their dancing.

 

Number 6 reminds Janet he first danced with her in Kitzbühel. Kitzbühel is a small town in Austria known as a ski resort.

 

At 28:49 on the Blu-ray, National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank can be seen. In 1968, these two banks merged into National Westminster Bank (NatWest).

 

Number 6 picks up some photos at Walters World Cameras Ltd., next to Lloyd's Bank Limited at the Victoria Colonnade. Lloyd's Bank is real, but I've been unable to confirm Victoria Colonnade and Walters World Cameras. The exterior of the camera store looks like a real store shot on location somewhere in London. A sign on the front of the store advertises Kodachrome Colour Film; this was a real brand of color film made by Eastman Kodak from 1935-2010. A couple other signs have brand names covered over with black paper or cardboard; probably in an attempt to not provide free advertising to non-sponsors of the program! One of these signs advertises 8mm Colorcine film, but with the brand name blacked out; this would be Iflord Photo's brand of the time. An ad for Mallory is also seen on the inside of the front door; I've not been able to find evidence of this brand in the photographic arena.

 

The large ad poster on the front door of the camera store appears to be for the Polaroid Swinger Land Camera Model 20. The camera itself is seen sitting on the counter inside the store at 29:09 on the Blu-ray.

 

Numerous photos of old London are visible on the windows of the camera shop, including images of Westminster Palace, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.

 

The man watching Number 6 from outside the camera store window is, again, the hearse driver.

 

An ad for Pan Am is seen on a double-decker bus at 29:33 on the Blu-ray. Pan American World Airways was an international airline from 1927-1991.

 

An ad poster for the Kodak Instamatic camera is seen at 29:39 on the Blu-ray. Also, an advertising stand-up with the slogan "things happen in colour"; the brand is covered and I've not been able to determine what brand this was. Also visible in this scene is a Polaroid Automatic 220 in the display case on top of the counter in the background.

 

PopApostle reader Thomas W. points out: "When N.6 picked up the photos and returns home, he turns right entering his street. On the right hand side of his street there are about 7 parked cars (and a garbage container?), when the camera position switches to the position next to his door, the cars a gone, there are only two red cars parked."

 

At 31:41 on the Blu-ray, a man tailing Number 6 for Sir Charles reports that Number 6 has returned to his apartment and the living room curtains have been drawn. But we see that the window actually has venetian blinds, not curtains.

 

Number 6 uses an Aldis Tutor 1000 projector to view the designated slides revealing where Dr. Seltzman is hiding. Aldis was a real world manufacturer of slide projectors at the time. The slides he picked up at the camera store are labeled as Kodachrome slides.

 

The secret message of the slides reveals that Seltzman is hiding in Kandersfeld, Austria. This appears to be a fictitious town and later revealed to be Seltzman's birthplace. Number 6 uses what appears to be a 1967 edition of Phillips' Record Atlas to look up the location of the town. PopApostle reader Thomas W. points out: "When N.6 looks up the town in the map it shows a part of Austria, Tyrol, north of Innsbruck at the border of Germany."

 

At 34:38 on the Blu-ray, Number 6 drives the A20 towards Dover. This is an actual highway in England running from London to Dover.

 

PopApostle reader Thomas W. points out that when Number 6 arrives in Dover, the aerial shot of the harbor shows a Belgian flag flying in the lower-left corner of the screen. Since it seems unlikely that a Belgian flag would be flying at a British port, the shot is probably old stock footage of a Belgian port, or possibly Dunkirk, France, just six miles from the Belgian border.

 

The ferry Number 6 takes from Dover is the Maid of Kent, an actual Dover ferry that was running in the 1960s and up to 1981, owned by British Rail. Dover is in the county of Kent and has a harbor running ferries to the European mainland.

 

At 35:13 on the Blu-ray, an ad for Martini vermouth is seen along the sidewalk, as is its parent company Martini & Rossi.

 

At 35:38 on the Blu-ray, BP and Esso gas stations are seen.

 

After getting off the ferry, the scenes of Number 6 driving are accompanied by musical pieces that seem to correspond to the countries he's driving through, France, Germany, and then Austria.

 

When the music changes to Austrian at 35:47 on the Blu-ray, PopApostle reader Thomas W. points out the building seen is a church, Seekirchl Heilig Kreuz, located in the village Seefeld in Tyrol. The church is even the main photograph on the village's website. Seefeld in Tyrol is also where the exterior Kandersfeld scenes were shot.

 

At 36:01 on the Blu-ray, the Hotel Bergland is seen along the road; a Volkswagen van is also seen parked along the curb. There are several Hotel Berglands in Austria.

 

At 36:14 on the Blu-ray, a sign for Pilsner Urquell, a Czech beer, is seen on the wall of the cafe.

 

Ironically, the waiter at the cafe tells Number 6, "Welcome to the village, sir."

 

PopApostle reader Thomas W. indentifies the switchback road Potter is driving on as the Silvretta-Hochalpenstraße (Silvretta High Alpine Road), a toll road in the Austrian Alps.

 

In Kandersfeld, Seltzman is using the alias Herr Hellen.

 

When the waiter points out the barber shop at 36:48 on the Blu-ray, the location is merely a flipped shot of the earlier scene at 36:10! PopApostle reader Thomas W. found this photo of the building pointed out to Number 6 by the waiter as the location of the barber shop on Wikimedia: Seefeld in Tirol square

 

When Seltzman, as Herr Hellen, greets Number 6, in the Colonel's body, in the barber shop, he says, "Guten tag, mein herr." This is German for "Good day, sir." 

 

The old envelope Number 6 once addressed to Dr. Seltzman shows that the professor was living at 20 Portmeirion Road! Portmeirion, of course, is the name of the real world tourist village that served as the exteriors of the Village. The town in the address is Filey Clyde, Scotland, which appears to be fictitious. The postal stamp shows it was sent from Greenford, Middlesex at 2PM, 10 March 1961. Greenford is a suburb in west London (Middlesex was a county until is was merged into Greater London in 1965). The postage stamp on the envelope is an actual stamp from that earlier time period, printed in 1960, with the image of Queen Elizabeth II. envelope

 

The daily calendar on the wall of the barber shop at 40:01 on the Blu-ray, seems to indicate that the date is the 16th. The month and day of the week are not given. However, the original script of this episode (which was later altered fairly drastically) reveals that the date of Number 6's resignation was July 13. So, if this episode takes place about a year later (as implied above) then it is not unreasonable to assume that it is now July 16.

 

Number 6 identifies the man who follows him (XB4) to Kandersfeld as Potter. But it is a different Potter than the one later seen in "The Girl Who Was Death".

 

Dr. Seltzman retorts to Number 2 that Rutherford must regret splitting the atom. This is a reference to Ernest Rutherford, a British physicist who first successfully split the atom in 1917.

 

Number 2 tells Seltzman that only he, unlike the king's men, can put two split identities (Number 6 and the Colonel) back together again. Obviously, this is a reference to the late 18th Century English nursery rhyme, "Humpty Dumpty". Interestingly, the rhyme is later used by the returned Number 2 (actor Leo McKern) as part of his attempt to break down Number 6's psyche in "Once Upon a Time".

 

At 44:12 on the Blu-ray, Number 2 says heil to Dr. Seltzman, in mocking acquiescence to the doctor's demands. This is German for "Hail."

 

At 45:53 on the Blu-ray, Dr. Seltzman uses an S&W EKG simulator. EKG stand for electrocardiogram. S&W appears to have been a real company at the time, but I've found no evidence it still exists today.

 

The nurse assisting with Dr. Seltzman's recovery appears to be Number 95.

 

At the end of the episode, it is clear that Seltzman pulled a fast one on Number 2 and swapped his mind with the Colonel's, so that the Colonel is now dead in Seltzman's failed body while Seltzman himself is free in the Colonel's body. But Seltzman, in the Colonel's body, has only just taken off in the helicopter. Can't Number 2 simply radio the copter pilot or their destination and have the "Colonel" taken into custody? I suppose it's possible that Seltzman will force the pilot to land elsewhere, some place he can escape the clutches of the powers-that-be.

 

Before he dies, the Colonel, in Seltzman's body, tells Number 2, "You must contact No.1 and tell him I did my duty." This would seem to be another confirmation that Number 1's gender is male.

 

It seems odd that the British Colonel should speak in the German/Austrian accent of Seltzman in Seltzman's body. Maybe it's due to muscle memory of the larynx?

 

Notice that Number 6's memory of the Village has seemingly returned when his mind is returned to his own body.


Unanswered Questions

Where does this episode leave Janet Portland? When last seen, it seems she was convinced that "the Colonel" was actually her fiancé, Number 6. Since he seemingly had no memory of the Village at the time, he could not have informed her of it. But they obviously both know something is up since he is in the wrong body! What will she do next? Might she have some means of contacting the fugitive Dr. Seltzman in the future? Seltzman is now seemingly free in the world, with at least some knowledge of the Village and Number 6's place there.

What will Dr. Seltzman do next? Will he attempt to take steps to free Number 6 or expose the Village?

Memorable Dialog

transmit the psyche of one person into another.wav
I don't believe it.wav
we call this our amnesia room.wav
now we wipe out all unhappy memories of the Village.wav
tomorrow you will wake up a new man.wav
ZM73.wav
welcome to the village, sir.wav
splitting the identity of two human beings.wav
you must contact Number 1.wav

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