from the June 6, 2004 issue
There's no escaping from The Prisoner
He's back on TV and now
you can trace his steps at Portmeirion
by Travel Editor Frank Barrett
WHO ARE you?
The new Number Two. Who is Number One? You are Number Six. I am not a number, I am a free man . . .' If this makes any sense to you, then you must be a fan of the Sixties cult TV series The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan. It ran to 17 episodes and was a classic Sixties creation – nobody was sure whether it was incredibly clever or just a load of meaningless rubbish. You can judge for yourself because BBC4 is showing episodes over the next four weeks as part of its Summer in the Sixties season. Whether The Prisoner made any sense or not, what was without doubt was the fact that its location, the Italianate village of Portmeirion, designed by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, is absolutely stunning.
Last month, writer Catherine Nemeth Frumerman was in the village in north-west Wales to promote her new book, On The Trail Of The Prisoner: A Walking Guide To Portmeirion's Prisoner Sites. The book is probably of most interest to Prisoner obsessives ('Location 28: Lighthouse: . . the Lighthouse, the farthest landmark structure from the Village, is where Number Six meets his first accomplice, Number Nine, the woman in the red hat ...') However, it has almost as much information about the architecture and fascinating history of Portmeirion itself.
The last time I visited the village was more than 20 years ago, a couple of weeks before a fire destroyed the main hotel. The Hotel Portmeirion has long since been rebuilt – far better than the original – and the village is as beautiful and quirky as ever. While you can stay in the main hotel building, there is also accommodation in the houses that make up the village (Noel Coward stayed in one of these while he was writing Blithe Spirit.) You could happily linger there for days but there's also much to see in the surrounding countryside of the Snowdonia National Park. Watch The Prisoner on TV this week and then visit the village. I guarantee a real treat.
Reprinted with permission. © Mail On Sunday
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to purchase On The Trail Of The Prisoner, and other Prisoner items, visit www.priz.biz.
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