Monday, July 7, 2014


I'm about (in the next day or so) to start reintroducing myself to the 1960s cult series The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan was the show's creator and star; what he created captivates some people to this day. Back in late 1987, on Sunday nights, CityTV replayed the show and I was there, never to miss an episode.

On Youtube there is an archival 37 minute one-off television program, which ran on OECA here in Ontario, Canada, dedicated to The Prisoner. The Ontario Educational Communications Authority, now TVO, was outstanding -- this then teenager probably watched that network more than any other. In 1977 I even visited the facility (it's still in the same building) as a guest, along with a friend of mine. (We took the day off from school.)

Nineteen seventy-seven is when this special program, The Prisoner Puzzle, was aired. I wish I had been there. I watched just the first eleven minutes of the show on Youtube tonight since I want to save it for after my re-viewing of The Prisoner. Good ol' Patrick McGoohan displays some of that fiery temper which he was known to have at times. I wish people in television today had a little of that, instead of producing unconsciously.

In this interview hosted by Warner Troyer, McGoohan talks about selling the idea of The Prisoner to executive Sir Lew Grade. I remember reading an interview with the actor a few years ago where he went into some detail about the conversation; he said that after telling Grade that he had conceived the series more as a serial, with just seven episodes, the famous impresario, who was warm to the concept, responded by saying, "Patrick, I can't sell a series that has just seven episodes". (That still cracks me up since I can almost hear him saying it.) They compromised with seventeen; even though Grade initially had requested twenty-six episodes. The Prisoner had a short life (1967-68), but has enjoyed a long life.

The Prisoner Puzzle ( with Patrick McGoohan )


Steve D said...

Hi Barry - this was such a fine interview. Warner Troyer was excellent. I was reading the booklet that OECA put out in 1976 titled The Prisoner Puzzle and in the beginning it states:
For information about videotapes of programs in the series The Prisoner Puzzle, write to:
OECA Order Desk
Box 200, Station Q
Toronto, Ontario M4T 2T1

Any idea if any of this series still exists?

Barry Smight said...

Hi Steve,

I agree with your summation of the archival interview.

As for your question regarding surviving OECA/TVO shows, I would contact them. A friend of mine has contacted the network a couple of times in the last few years and, according to him, they don't seem to be on top of things in the 'filing' department. Heck, I'd go through their archives for free -- to document, not to thieve....

Thanks for your comment!