Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009)

I was sorry to hear today of the death of Patrick McGoohan. I have followed his career with interest ever since first catching The Prisoner in its 1984 re-run on Channel 4. As children, and for some years afterwards, we used to holiday in Portmeirion where The Prisoner was filmed back in 1966. On several occasions, my brother and I attended the Six of One conventions there. The Prisoner, starring McGoohan, sometimes written and directed by him too, is without question one of the greatest TV series of all time. To an extent its cult success has obscured the McGoohan's many other roles. I used to sneak off to my college room in the mid-80s to catch Channel 4's re-runs of Danger Man, the spy drama that made McGoohan famous in the 1960s, in the role of John Drake. I remember with fondness his several appearances in one of my other favourite TV series of all time, Columbo, most recently in one of the final episodes to have aired, Ashes to Ashes (1998), featuring his daughter Catherine, and which McGoohan directed.

There are already several detailed and interesting obituaries, including The Times, The Guardian (with more in their TV Blog) and The Telegraph. Portmeirion itself mourns his death and the fansites have their tributes, Six of One (with a recent photograph given to the society by the family), which includes a lengthy obituary (PDF) penned by Roger Langley, McGoohan's biographer. See also The Unmutual, which is gathering tributes, and a delightful series of reflections that parallel my memories on Stuff on TV by Cameron McEwan.

Update (22.40): Although he wouldn't remember us, we met Mitch (then Mitchell) Benn at his first and subsequent two or three Prisoner conventions in Portmeirion. We were quiet, passive participants; Mitchell and the "Liverpool group" were brash, loud, ultimately very funny participants. I remember the Liverpool group's parody of "The Two Ronnies" sketch in which Ronnie Barker's speciality is answering the next question. One of the answers in this quiz was "Mitchell bloody-know-it-all Benn" to paroxysms of laughter, and a withering look at the audience from Benn that made you think, "This bloke is pretty funny". Well, I mention these reflections from over twenty years ago because the comedian Mitch Benn looks back on those days of his "hardcore nerdment" on his blog:

So reading of Ol' Paddy McGoo's passing hits home, 'cos it kind of feels like a big chunk of my adolescence has gone with him.

RIP/BCNU...

2 comments:

goulablogger said...

Eighty isn't a bad run, I suppose, though these days it seems a bit young, perhaps.

I think I shall have to locate the recently released "Dr. Syn" in the massive DVD collection and watch it. That's a role that let McGoohan channel his good and bad side. And that cackling scarecrow did give me a few bad dreams in my childhood.

Sadly, I don't believe I own a single DVD with Ricardo Montalban.

Chuck Grantham

unkle e said...

I too loved both DangerMan and Prisoner, though I never understood Prisoner, not even when I saw some of it again recently on DVD.