Transmission Date: 8/12/1967
Episode Length: 47'55m
Est. Ratings: 9.3m
Written by: Michael Cramoy
Directed by: Patrick McGoohan (uncredited) and Robert Asher
DVD availability: Try amazon.com
An ITC Production by Everyman Films Ltd. Executive Producer: Patrick McGoohan; Script Editor: George Markstein; Producer: David Tomblin; Production Manager: Bernard Williams; Director of Photography: Brendan J. Stafford B.S.C.; Art Director: Jack Shampan; Camera Operator: Jack Lowin; Editor: John S. Smith; Theme: Ron Grainer; Musical Director: Albert Elms; Assistant Director: Gino Marotta; Sound Editor: Ken Rolls; Sound Recordist: John Bramall; Music Editor: John S. Smith; Casting Director: Rose Tobias-Shaw; Continuity: Doris Martin; Set Dresser: Kenneth Bridgeman; Make-Up: Eddie Knight; Hairdressing: Pat McDermot and Wardrobe: Masada Wilmot. Made on location and at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Borehamwood, England.
Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner); Derren Nesbitt (New Number Two); Annette Andre (Watchmaker's Daughter); Mark Eden (Number One Hundred); Andre Van Gyseghem (Retiring Number Two); Martin Miller (Watchmaker); Wanda Ventham (Computer Attendent); Angelo Muscat (The Butler); Mark Burns(Number Two's Assistant); Peter Swanwick (Supervisor); Charles Lloyd Pack (Artist); Grace Arnold (Number Thirty Six); Arthur White (Stall-Holder); Michael Bilton (M.C. Councillor); Gerry Crampton (Kosho Opponent); Fenella Fielding (Loudspeaker Voice, uncredited) and Robert Rietty (Voice of No.2 in titles, uncredited)
This site has been slightly revised for the 50th anniversary of the programme, with some of the episodes being moved in order. Two episodes that were originally suggested as coming before It's Your Funeral have been pushed back, causing it to come in ninth place.
If you've been following the episodes in the order I've suggested, then while I've admitted it's arguably not perfect, we've seen episodes where No.6 is new to the Village being placed as they were intended, at the start. We've seen a returning No.2 return after he was originally introduced. And we've seen an episode where No.6 has been gone "a gap of months" actually appear later in the run, rather than second. Narratively speaking, it also creates a more satisfying flow, as No.6 changes from a fairly naive individual trying to escape into someone who trusts nobody and challenges the system from within, although new changes means he doesn't continue to win every week...
An activity prognosis is carried out on No.6 which gives a report of his activities and predicted activities, the computer utilising a "quantum permutation of all cause and effects of supplementary elements".
At 06:30, No.6 exercises with a daily walk around the Village and climbing the bell tower. 07:30 is his daily workout with home-made gymnastic apparatus which appears to be stored in the woodlands. 08:15 is water-skiing. 09:00 is coffee at the cafe and buying a copy of the "Tally Ho" newspaper. 09:20 is on foot to the old people's home for a game of chess, whereafter he will sit for a portrait by an "eccentric" inmate.
This is all we learn of the regular activities. However, a projection, (which turns out to be 100% accurate) of that day gives us a daily stroll at 10:19, and at 10:20 buying a newspaper, bar of soap and bag of sweets from the kiosk. The computer predicted that an elderly lady would run out of credit for the week and that No.6 would buy the bag for her. Following this between 11:40 and 11:50 No.6 attends his semi-weekly Kosho practise.
In The Village:
The answer to how No.6 always seems to have work units when he never does any work is answered here when a kiosk owner informs an elderly inmate that she has ran out of her "week's credit allowance".
We hear about "jammers", groups of subversive inmates that specialise in misinformation, chiefly bogus escape attempts, in order to confuse the observers. However, the Village has counteracted by drawing up a list of known jammers and then paying no attention to them. (If that's the case, then why don't the jammers use their escape plans for real?) The Village has developed a new superstrength drug, Modpromite, which remains dormant until triggered by the nervous system.
The watchmaker's shop is seen for the first and only time in the series. There is an annual appreciation day for No.2 (official title seen here for the first time: "Chief Administrator"). No.6 meets an elderly No.2 who claims, apparently, that he is the permanent No.2 and that he has been on leave, all the other No.2s we have seen having been his interims. We are shown three other No.2s (not credited), but these are not regular actors from the series. The new No.2 has a two-way transmitter-reciever in his glasses.
The Village authorities plan to assassinate a retiring No.2 at his leaving ceremony, in an operation called "Plan Division Q". With the whole plan being brought together by the new No.2, he arranges it so that No.6 will be the one to warn the old No.2, thus discrediting himself. True to form, the elderly No.2 believes No.6 to be one of the jammers and be crying wolf. Yet No.2's seal, to be worn at the ceremony, has been especially made by the Village watchmaker and is packed with explosives.
No.6 convinces the old No.2 that he is telling the truth, and manages to intercept the watchmaker with the radio-controlled detonator. After the seal has been passed to the new No.2, No.6 gives the detonator to the retired administrator, informing him it's his insurance. The retired No.2 escapes via helicopter.
It was around this time that McGoohan's behaviour on set was reportedly becoming increasingly erratic, and George Markstein was to eventually leave the series in a dispute which still goes unresolved. Patrick's assumption of a multitude of jobs, as well as often sacking workers, was causing production costs to escalate and ITC to panic. As a result It's Your Funeral was said to be a very tense shoot, with original director Asher sacked by McGoohan in the middle of production. It's not known how much work on the serial Asher did, though the uncredited McGoohan was the chief director from then on, a star director that Annette Andre said she found extremely difficult to work with.
It's Your Funeral is the shortest of The Prisoner episodes.
"I can think of better ways to die."
"And better causes to die for."
Despite the myriad flaws with this episode, I like it despite myself. While the two previous episodes in this special order have required a kind eye towards "sets as exteriors", this and the following episode take it to a new level. Add to this Martin Miller as an absurdly stereotypical Jew and Annette Andre – extremely attractive but also slightly wooden – and it's something of a mixed bag.
However, rewatching the episodes on The Prisoner's 40th anniversary I'm struck by how this is one of the most relevant. A suspected terrorist is wanted by the administration… but the other side is also shown, a family man reacting against an oppressive regime from a foreign power. Even worse, some parts of that regime are orchestrating events. It's not intentional in terms of contemporary issues, obviously (though was intentional in terms of contemporary assassination events then), but it's bitingly political.
Okay, the plot – The Village fool No.2 into thinking he's not going to be assassinated by tricking No.6 into telling him he IS going to be assassinated – is the sort of convoluted concept dreamt up under the influence of crack. But Derren Nesbitt's brilliantly witty take on the No.2 role and his "activity prognosis" make it a small delight. In fact, Nesbitt is so good he almost makes you not realise that the episode is crammed to bursting with pure, undiluted exposition.
There's some appalling stuff in It's Your Funeral… awful stunt doubles, crass delivery of plot points and padding so bad that a game of Kosho takes up over three minutes of the runtime. Production is so poor that some of the dialogue in the main Nesbitt-McGoohan scene is badly overdubbed. But there's also a lot to enjoy, and a sufficiently complex plot that rewards those repeat viewings I like to talk about. Average, cheap and flawed it may be, but It's Your Funeral is still relevant today.