Sunday 28 June 2020

The Mystery of The Prisoner

Why does he drive up The Mall? 

Following my post a few months ago on places in London associated with James Bond, I thought I would write this little piece on another fictional agent, Number Six in Patrick McGoohan's "cult" TV series The Prisoner. While much of the action is in Portmeirion, significant events, including the weekly opening sequence, take place in London and that is where Number Six lives.

Abingdon Street Car Park
There are many, many mysteries in The Prisoner, but one that's always mystified me is the route Number 6 takes in the opening title sequence, from his desk-thumping resignation to his home at 1 Buckingham Place, followed by the sinister hearse. The office of the mysterious agency from which he resigns seems to be a secret location hidden under College Green and accessed via the Abingdon Street underground car park, right opposite the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament (where we see him bidding farewell to Number 2 at the end of the last episode). From there it is only a shortish walk to Buckingham Place, but of course he has his car with him, having driven in from who-knows-where to hand in his resignation, so he needs to drive home, but why that route?

The Prisoner's home in Buckingham Place
My assumption is that this drive home is between two anonymous places in London which we are not intended to identify, and a route is chosen which is long enough for the drama and which shows enough landmarks to place it clearly in London. While the agency's HQ can be placed by the arrival of Number Six's car in a street opposite the Houses of Parliament, his house is altogether more anonymous (although the street name can be read on the corner of the house for those who wish to place it - which is how I found it when I took the photograph!), especially since he arrived from an odd direction for someone driving from Parliament. A significant thing about the house which we do not take in until the very last episode is that its street number is 1. Number Six asks throughout his imprisonment who is Number One, but he answers the question himself when he goes home and passes through the front door with "1" on it, a door which, like those in The Village, opens by itself. 

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