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Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner?
Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner? [Patrick] McGoohan
  was the Orson Welles
  of British television.
  A radical; an enfant
  terrible. He had total
  control and created
  something truly
  extraordinary. So, of
  course, they closed
  him down!” — Donovan


IN A FOREWORD TO Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner? by Roger Langley, Peter Falk (Columbo) says Patrick is "…the most underrated, under-appreciated talent on the face of the globe. The first two times that he appeared on Columbo he won Emmys for Best Performance By A Guest Star In A TV Series. No character in the history of television has had that honour."

As a Patrick McGoohan fan myself, I was delighted to come across this wonderful book while attending the recent launch of James Robertson Justice's biography "What's The Bleeding Time?" at Pinewood Studios. A great friend of Peter Falk, Patrick starred in, directed and wrote for Columbo and is acknowledged as making a large contribution to the show's success.

So why is so little known about the man who was responsible for the cult series The Prisoner — a landmark series first shown in the UK in the late-Sixties that changed the history of television and has inspired many other dramas up to the present day?

Patrick McGoohan shuns publicity and is fiercely protective of his privacy, so that this very private man is the subject of a book is a stroke of luck for the star's many admirers around the world — the author, although a busy lawyer, has been a principal organiser of the Appreciation Society for The Prisoner during its thirty-year life and continues to publish the society's magazines.

With 450 rare and exclusive photographs, Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner? looks at the actor's personal and public life. Born Patrick Joseph McGoohan on 19 March, 1928 in New York to Irish parents, his family moved to Ireland when Patrick was six months old. In 1938, they moved to Sheffield, Yorkshire, but he attended Ratcliffe College until 1944, having joined the Air Training Corps in 1943 despite suffering health problems as a child.

One of Patrick's earliest stage appearances was in 1945 at St Vincent's Youth Centre, Sheffield, in a production of Pride and Prejudice as Mr Darcy. From working at a repertory theatre in Sheffield, Patrick became an actor and began to attract attention from the local media well before his move to the West End and Hollywood beating a path to his door.

With an impressive cv of stage, television and screen productions — directing, writing, acting, producing and various collaborations — Patrick McGoohan is often declared to be one of the best actors to have ever come out of Britain. Yet, the obsessive protection of his privacy and often conflicting and provocative remarks made to the press over the years has created a need to set the record straight. Having lived in the US for the past thirty years — he has a dual US passport — Patrick is a clean-living family man with a solid marriage to former actress Joan Drummond since 1951.

This first-ever biography of Patrick McGoohan, Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner? details his classic television series Danger Man and The Prisoner and explains why McGoohan — the top choice for James Bond — turned down the role. The book also looks at his relationships with the actors and directors with whom he has worked. Orson Welles was his mentor and Paul Eddington introduced Patrick to Joan.

The "tough-guy" image is wrong, says Patrick, who says he is "soft-hearted, gentle and understanding". His cinema debut was The Dam Busters (1954) and when he appeared in High Tide At Noon (1957) a journalist described his performance as the character Simon Brett as being "as twitchy as that of James Dean in Giant."

After a showing of The Gypsy and The Gentleman (1958), where Patrick played a gypsy opposite Melina Mercouri and Keith Michell, one reporter described him as "the most important picture discovery since Kirk Douglas"; he would "make more dollars for Britain than Guinness" and Patrick was, he said: "[Charlton] Heston, [Kirk] Douglas and [Burt] Lancaster rolled into one."

In December 1958 he landed the part of Charles Castle, in The Play
Of The Week: The Big Knife
, about Hollywood corruption. Variety said:
"…special mention must be made of the performances of Patrick McGoohan as Charles Castle… and Louise Albritton as his wife." And one reviewer observed that Patrick's "…mannerisms, movements and voice were always those of a mature actor."

Peter Howell, who appeared in an episode of The Prisoner, said that "his charisma and magnetism were remarkable — it was like working with Laurence Olivier." But not all of Patrick McGoohan's life has been easy. He went through a life-threatening colon operation which left
him in a coma for some weeks, and it appears he is as dismissive of
his illnesses as he is of his talent.

For his performance in Brand, Patrick received the London Drama Critics' Award for Best Theatre Actor Of The Year — Brand was also broadcast by BBC television in 1959 and Patrick McGoohan was justifiably proud of his performance.

When Patrick stepped smartly into Danger Man, a new and long-running television series, as agent John Drake, one of the episodes — supposedly located in Italy — was filmed at Portmeirion. It was Patrick's decision to shoot The Prisoner at Portmeirion. He has said that cult shows are probably watched time after time without diminution of enjoyment because "these programmes were made by enthusiasts, who believed passionately in their work."

This, perhaps, sums up Patrick McGoohan. He always gives his best.
In Braveheart (1995) he was cast as the evil King Edward Longshanks and gave a superb performance. He described the character as "a rasping tyrant who recognises that to rule you need to put your rod
of iron where it hurts most." Mel Gibson was apparently flattered that Patrick had agreed to do Braveheart and it was a film that reunited Patrick with his old Danger Man and The Prisoner producer David Tomblin, who was first assistant director on Braveheart.

Patrick also played the part of the ghost of the comic hero's dead father in The Phantom and has even appeared in The Simpsons!
But what now? There is the film of The Prisoner — but who will be Number 6? I'd like it to be Kiefer Sutherland or maybe that other
Darcy, Colin Firth. Be seeing you

In Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner? Roger Langley un-ravels the myths separating the man from his on-screen creations.
Now available from all good bookshops at an RRP of £19.99, the book
is published in paperback by Tomahawk Press of Sheffield. ISBN-10:
0-9531926-4-4; ISBN-13: 978-0-9531926-4-9.

Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man Or Prisoner? has a number of inter-esting Appendices: Complete Patrick McGoohan Screenography of Films, Television, Theatre and Radio; Episode Guides To Rafferty, Columbo, The Prisoner and Danger Man, with Original UK and US Broadcast Dates; Film and Television Productions he Directed; Order
of Episodes Of The Prisoner; Questionnaire Completed By Patrick McGoohan in the early 60s; About The Writer.

Roger Langley has been a principal organiser of the Appreciation Society for The Prisoner during its thirty-year life. He has written The Prisoner in Portmeirion (1999), The Prisoner Series Guide (2005) and the latest US Prisoner DVD Megaset booklet. Langley has produced numerous periodicals devoted to The Prisoner and continues to publish the Appreciation Society's magazines.

Listen to interviews with the author at www.patrickmcgoohan
.or
g.uk
.

"This must be for McGoohan fans — that most eagerly-awaited of all books. A biography. And what a biography! This well-structured work glitters, every page well-composed, literate, and absorbing, every fact meticulously researched and detailed. Does this work do justice to this most private and retiring of actors? The answer is an emphatic Yes... McGoohan will even be quietly pleased. Believe me, this is a book that you'll certainly be reaching for, again and again. Don't think twice" — David Barrie, Founder of The Prisoner Appreciation Society