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The Village on THE PRISONERThe Village - Bizarre seaside resort on the espionage fantasy series THE PRISONER/CBS/1968. On the surface, "The Village" is a beautiful seaside peninsula resort enclosed by mountains and forests, but in reality, it is a prison which held people who were considered a threat to the British government...people with information too valuable to let fall into the hands of the enemy.

The series follows a former British Intelligence officer (played by Patrick McGoohan) who was taken to The Village under duress (he was gassed) for interrogation. Waking in the Village, the "Prisoner" was stripped of his name and all individuality and given the name of Number Six.

All residents in the village wear a patch with the sketch of an antique bicycle with a large front wheel (penny farthing).

Number Two, the head of The Village stated on the first episode:

"It's a question of your resignation...a lot of people are curious about...why you suddenly left? The information in your head is priceless. A man like you is worth a great deal on the open market. It's my job to check your motives."

Despite a number of bizarre and often dangerous interrogation techniques, the Prisoner escaped and became a free man once more on the final episode.

The location of the Village was never revealed but in episode No. 7 entitled "Many Happy Returns," Number Six escaped The Village by sea. During his twenty-five day journey to London, he plotted his location (via star navigation) to be west of Morocco and Southwest of Portugal and Spain. However, he was reluctantly returned to the resort.

On the final episode No. 17 "Fall Out", the Prisoner and three others escape the Village in a truck through an underground tunnel as The Village is destroyed. As the truck approaches civilization, it passes a road sign on the A20 Freeway indicating London is only 27 miles way.

In reality, the Village was a popular resort town in North Wales on the Cardigan Bay called the Hotel Portmeirion. It was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and features every type of architectural style you could imagine. The resort was a favorite retreat for Bertrand Russell, Noel Coward and of course, Patrick McGoohan, the series creator/star who used it as a backdrop for his offbeat (and now cult) espionage series. The surreal architecture of this Welsh resort town attracts some 250,000 visitors a year.

Portmeirion, aka 'The Village'

A Village-like facility may actually exist according to some investigators. George Markstein, the script editor for THE PRISONER revealed that while reporting during World War II he heard of an organization known as the Inter Services Research Bureau (ISRB) who ran an espionage internment camp in Scotland that "housed" certain people who possessed information that was just too confidential. Visitors to this exclusive "club" were treated to deluxe accommodations and a luxurious lifestyle but in the end, they could never leave.

TRIVIA NOTE: A possible inspiration for THE PRISONER series was a 1964 episode of the spy drama SECRET AGENT (a.k.a. DANGER MAN)/CBS/1961-66 starring Patrick McGoohan as agent John Drake.

The episode featured a secret village disguised to look like the English Village of Hamden. The Villagers were trained to live, breath and act British. After three years at the spy school they were released into the field as undercover agents. If they changed their mind and tried to escape the village...they were liquidated.

Agent Drake infiltrated the village and was told by its keepers "No one in the village can ever leave. It's like being in the zoo. The animals are very well cared for." See also -"Rover"

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