The classic ITV series The Prisoner has been skilfully updated for a new audience with the second release of stories based on that series. Written and directed with great skill and affection by Nicholas Briggs, this set of four adventures cracks along at a relentless pace and engages the listener from the outset. Even if you have not listened to Volume 1 (or indeed watched the series on which it is based), you will not be left behind as the series opener fills in all the necessary backstory.
For the uninitiated, The Prisoner was the brainchild of actor Patrick McGoohan who wanted to do something to shake off his character from a previous series, Danger Man. The premise for the show is that a man with no identity quits a company suddenly and then awakes the next day to find himself in a place called “The Village” where he is given the title of “Number 6” and is constantly being harassed by an ever-changing leader known as “Number 2”.
The series was lavishly produced but failed to fire with the audiences of the day and was cancelled after 17 episodes (leading to a very hastily written final episode). The series became a cult favourite throughout the 70s, 80s and beyond and many books and theories have been written about the show and its themes.
For this collection, Briggs has compiled four episodes, some of which are based on original episodes from the TV series and others that are brand new. Also included is a lengthy behind the scenes bonus disc showing the making of the production from day one.
It is clear that this is a project of love for Briggs as every sound effect and phrase is designed to replicate the series whilst giving it new life in the audio medium. The stories are entertaining (especially the last two episodes, which are riveting) and performed with much nuance by the cast.
Replacing the late McGoohan in the role of Number 6 is Mark Elstob who, not only has the McGoohan voice down pat, but also gives the character much more intensity than was presented on screen. He shows a remarkable range of emotions in what can be a very limiting format. The supporting cast are also top drawer. Lucy Briggs-Owen (as Kate Butterworth), John Heffernan (Thorpe) and Sara Powell (Number 9/Number 90) do a fantastic job of menace and innocence across the stories they are involved in.
The sound mix by Iain Meadows is up to the usual brilliant standard of Big Finish and the music by Jamie Robertson perfectly captures the soundtrack from the original series.
This has to be one of Big Finish’s best projects to date. It is a series to cherish and the next volume cannot come quick enough.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 9
Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: August 2017
RRP: $41 (CD), $20 (Download)