The Prisoner CompanionThe Prisoner: The Official Companion to the Classic TV Series
Written By: Robert Fairclough
Published: 2002
Page Count: 144
Availability: Try Amazon

For the first book to be looked at in more detail, I got hold of a copy of The Official Companion by Robert Fairclough. Published by Carlton Books in 2002, it's one of the better guides to the series I've seen published. As an all-purpose reference work, it features the obligatory episode guides (four pages given over to each, except Fall Out and Arrival, which get six) and intro to the series, which brings up Kafka and Orwell. I must confess, I didn't read the book word-for-word, as there's only so many times you can read the same information that you already know. Ironically, there's been so many Prisoner books written that the catchphrase "We want information" is now something that we clearly don't require. However, none of this is Fairclough's fault, and this well-designed book (albeit with a horrible cover) does the series overview thing better than most.

Also in there is a forward by Ken Griffith, an introduction by the author, 8 pages on McGoohan, 4 on the 60s counterculture, 4 on Lew Grade and ITC, 12 on inspiration behind the series, 10 on the real village, 2 on the fictional one, 12 pages on spin-offs and merchandise, 4 on the reception the series got and 4 on how it inspired popular culture. No mention of 2.4 Children there, but there is a shot of Ronnie Corbett from Sorry! There's also the obligatory original transmission info, bibliography and index. There's the occasional typo and so-me mis-placed hy-ph-ens, as well as the reviews of Free For All and Fall Out ending half-way through, none of which is the fault of the author, but could have done with a sharper proofreader. It distracts little, though, and if I were going to pick a "basic guide" to the series to keep, it'd be this one. Previously unseen photographs don't go amiss, and the positive yet unanorakky commentaries on the episodes are nice, with only It's Your Funeral getting a negative appraisal. That said, when you read the plaudits being handed out to Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling you do begin to suspect that the author was under the influence of crack.