VIDEO: Cast and crew gather for The Prisoner

Ian McKellen, Jim Calvalziel and the creative force behind the new Prisoner gather in central London for first script conference...

Ian McKellen and Jim Calvaziel at LWT preparing for The Prisoner

Prior to flying off to Namibia to begin three months of production on AMC’s re-visioning of the classic 1967 TV series The Prisoner, the cast and crew have been rehearsing  for a week at ITV centre, and AMC have posted a quick video with interview snippets from the writers, actors and producers…

Sir Ian McKellen has also begun his own production blog at AMC’s website, where he notes that he was at the vanguard of the blogging revolution by posting news on Lord Of The Rings from the set during the making of Peter Jackson’s first entry in the Tolkien trilogy. “New Line Cinema were very nervous that any inside information about their films should reach the public, except through their own publicity department. I thought that policy was short-sighted, as there was a multitude of Tolkien fans longing for news who deserved to be encouraged.”

McKellen also recalls the involvement of Ain’t It Cool with coverage of the LoTR films: “[Peter Jackson] courted the rumour-mongering Ain’t it Cool News, then thought to be every studio’s potential bane, by inviting its prime critic to Middle Earth. A special chair was built to seat the mighty Harry Knowles close to the filming action. Thus the fan-base was informed directly about our progress on set.”

Speaking of the new version of The Prisoner, Sir Ian writes: “Google identifies numerous support groups for the cult classic. Like them, I admire Patrick McGoohan’s acting as ‘Number 6’ but I also cherish memories of his stage performance as Ibsen’s Brand, which is available on DVD. I hope he takes this new version of ‘The Prisoner’ as a compliment rather than a challenge to his great achievement.”

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McKellen spoke of the initial readings that were done at the first meeting at ITV centre, which are not featured in the video: “Read-throughs are nerve-wracking for the actors, still unfamiliar with their roles and so not much willing to commit to any sort of performance and yet, we feel being somehow judged by our employers. But by the end, the room was full of enthusiasm (as well as relief) and some kind soul started a round of genuine applause.”

Sir Ian confirms that his role as No.2 will be played exclusively by him, unlike in the original 1960s series where the role was taken up by a number of actors including Leo McKern and Patrick Cargill. No.2 is, of course, the amanuensis and visible face of the mysterious ‘No.1’, who has kidnapped ex-government operatives and gathered them together in a cross between Butlins and an internment camp (arguably a short leap).

The question of who No.1 might be haunted the 17-run episode of Patrick McGoohan’s original 1967 cult TV series, and there are those that contend that the final episode ‘Fallout’ did not necessarily make the matter any clearer.

As to whether new No.6 Jim Calvalziel will be pursued across his various escape routes by a big white weather-balloon, McKellen says “…you will just have to wait and see”.

The feted Lord Of The Rings actor closes his first blog entry with an acknowledgement of the timeliness of this Prisoner re-inagining: “As we analyse the nature of the fictional Village and its lucky or luckless inhabitants, it’s worth pondering what is going on inside those offices and nameless buildings of the capital. In some, perhaps, there are prisoners who the authorities want to hold for 42 days without charge…”

Sir Ian’s first blog post on The Prisoner remake

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‘New Prisoner’ posts at Den Of Geek:

The Martin Anderson column – Be seeing you…again The Martin Anderson column: reboot, remake or restart?