Production Number: E.67.9.16
Working Title: 'The Prisoner'

PLOTLINE

Want to get ahead in business? Want to climb the ladder to success? Someone in the way? Well, treat your boss to the holiday of a lifetime at the exclusive Elizabethan Hotel. We make sure our guests never want to leave – and if they do, we'll make them stay!

When Tara King's uncle, Charles Merrydale, goes on holiday and seems unwilling to return to his high powered business, it occurs to his niece that something might be wrong. She visits him at the Elizabethan Hotel, where he is staying. Once there, she discovers that some guests are being kept there against their will. If they try to leave, the hotel staff surreptitiously arrange for some unfortunate accident to befall them which always results in their remaining at the hotel. Perhaps a slip on a polished step, maybe a car that refuses to start, or even a bucket of water dropped on the guest by a careless window cleaner. In short, like her uncle, Tara finds herself a prisoner, albeit a pampered one.

When Tara fails to return, Mother and Steed decide that the department ought to look into the goings on at the Elizabethan Hotel. With a dearth of agents available for the assignment, Mother reluctantly sends his inept nephew Basil to investigate, commenting that it is a task so simple that even a seven year old could handle it – and as a result, Basil qualifies – just!

Basil arrives at the hotel, bringing with him a cornocopia of sporting paraphenalia – and before long, he is as much a prisoner as Tara and Merrydale.

Tara realises that only certain guests at the hotel are restrained from leaving and that the remainder are treated much the same as in any other such establishment. They provide, unknowingly, the perfect cover for an organisation that charges high for their services to ambitious businessmen. But what, she contests, is a hotel without guests? She and her co-conspirators plot an audacious takeover of the nerve centre of any hotel – the kitchen! How long can a hotel survive without food?

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 6, Episode 18
Production Completed:
Thu 12 Sep 1968
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Wed 9 Jul 1969, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 7 Feb 1969, 7.30pm
Border: Wed 19 Feb 1969, 8.00pm
Channel: Fri 7 Feb 1969, 7.30pm
Grampian: Fri 7 Feb 1969, 7.30pm
Granada: Sun 25 May 1969, 8.25pm
Harlech: Fri 7 Feb 1969, 7.30pm
Scottish: Unconfirmed
Southern: Wed 9 Jul 1969, 8.00pm
Thames: Wed 12 Feb 1969, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Wed 12 Feb 1969, 8.00pm
Ulster: Fri 7 Feb 1969, 7.30pm
Westward: Fri 7 Feb 1969, 7.30pm
Yorkshire: Sat 15 Feb 1969, 8.30pm
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
ARGENTINA: Tue 15 Jul 1969
AUSTRALIA: Fri 14 Feb 1969
CANADA: Tue 12 Nov 1968
FRANCE: Sat 1 Nov 1969
GREECE: Fri 1 May 1970
GERMANY: Sat 10 Jul 1999
ITALY: Sat 6 Dec 1980
JAMAICA: 1969
JAPAN: Tue 7 Mar 1972
MALAYSIA: Sat 6 Mar 1971
NETHERLANDS: Tue 14 Apr 1970
NEW ZEALAND: Wed 14 May 1969
PORTUGAL: Wed 14 Apr 1971
RUSSIA: Thu 11 Jul 1996
SINGAPORE: Sun 9 Mar 1969
SPAIN: Sun 30 Nov 1969
SWITZERLAND: Tue 5 Aug 1969
UNITED KINGDOM: Fri 7 Feb 1969
USA: Mon 18 Nov 1968
CHARACTERS & CAST
John Steed
Tara King
Mother
Charles Merrydale
Maxwell
Basil Crighton-Latimer
Parker
Kendrick
Mellor
Vickers
Brevitt
Miss Craven
Mr Maple
Attractive Girl
Rhonda
Patrick Macnee
Linda Thorson
Patrick Newell
Liam Redmond
Robert Urquhart
Brook William
Dudley Foster
Gary Watson
Richard Caldicot
Derek Newark
David Garth
Louise Pajo
John Cazabon
Sandra Fehr
Rhonda Parker
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Selections from the incidental score for this episode have been issued on The Avengers: Original Tara King Season Score, Silva Screen Records, 2011.

DVD EXTRAS

None.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer – Tony Williamson
Series Theme & Music –
Laurie Johnson
Additional Music –
Howard Blake
Script Editor –
Terry Nation
Production Designer –
Robert Jones
Director of Photography –
Alan Hume B.S.C.
Production Controller –
Jack Greenwood
Producers – Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Executive Producer –
Gordon L.T. Scott
Director –
Don Chaffey

Music Editor – Paul Clay
Editor –
Karen Heward
Recording Director – A.W. Lumkin
Sound Recordist – Sid Rider
Dubbing Mixer – Len Abbott
Sound Editor – Peter Lennard
Casting Director – G.B. Walker
Production Manager – Ron Fry
Post-Production Co-ordinator – Ann Chegwidden
Unit Manager – Laurie Greenwood
Construction Manager – Len Dunstan
Supervisory Electrician – Roy Bond

Mr Macnee's Costume Design – Patrick Macnee
Miss Thorson's Costume Design – Alun Hughes
Stunt Arranger – Joe Dunne
Assistant Director – Ron Purdie
Camera Operator –
Norman Jones
Associate Art Directors – Richard Harrison, Kenneth Tait
Set Dresser – Simon Wakefield
Continuity – Kay Perkins
Hairdressing – Betty Sherriff
Make-up – Jim Hyde (as Jim Hydes)
Wardrobe – Felix Evans

Made at Associated British Elstree Studios and on location

An ABC Television Films Ltd Production

MINISTRY VERDICT

A bright and breezy pastiche of the phenomenal Patrick McGoohan ATV series, The Prisoner, which replaces vicious weather balloons with organised accidents and other orchestrated misfortunes. Having the prolific Prisoner director Don Chaffey at the helm means we see several affectionate doffs of the cap towards that great series – in an episode that even ran with the working title of, you guessed it, The Prisoner. There's some nice location work at the Edgwarebury Hotel, but bluntly, there's not enough of it. The studio interiors don't quite fit the age and type of building and the use of cloth flats in place of genuine exteriors looks a bit tatty and often unconvincing. Being a Steed-lite episode, his scenes few and far between, this is left to Tara to hold centre stage along with a bumbling low-rent agent, Basil Crighton-Latimer, who happens to be Mother's nephew. Linda Thorson holds the fort well and Brook William (as Latimer) is an amusing one-off guest in a comedic vein. Liam Redmond and Robert Urquhart are also good value as Tara's Uncle Charles but why, oh why, was the wonderful Richard Caldicot wasted in such a minor role? In all, an entertaining entry in the series, but the penny-pinching shows through a little too much.

WISH YOU WERE HERE • DECLASSIFIED

  • Tag... Tara visits Steed at his mews flat. She finds him behaving strangely. He claims to be a prisoner in his own home. He escapes by leaving Tara to look after the neighbours' baby while he visits the local pub.


  • Production Brief... Filming for this episode was estimated to take 14 filming days to complete and commenced on Wednesday 21st August 1968, when the 'B' Unit completed location sequences at Edgwarebury House, Elstree, and Star House, Watford. These sequences involved actors Gary Watson (Kendrick) and Brook Williams (Basil).

  • The production moved to the studio interior of the hotel on Thursday 22nd and Friday and 23rd August 1968, before returning to the Edgwarebury on the following Monday, the 26th. Cyd Child deputised for Linda Thorson in these sequences, as Thorson (and Patrick Macnee) were at this point still with with the 'A' unit, filming scenes for They Keep Killing Steed.

  • Patrick Macnee and Linda Thorson were scheduled to join the episode on Tuesday 27th August 1968, but were required by the 'A' Unit as They Keep Killing Steed was running a massive 5½ days over schedule. As a result, no filming was completed on Wish You Were Here on this date and the 'B' Unit instead served as a second unit to the 'A' Unit on They Keep Killing Steed.

  • Patrick Macnee's actual first day on Wish You Were Here was Wednesday 28th August 1968, when he was joined by Patrick Newell, Rhonda Parker and Brook Williams, to film the interiors of Mother's HQ with the 'B' Unit. Linda Thorson remained with the 'A' Unit on this day, filming sequences for They Keep Killing Steed.

  • The interior filming on Wednesday 28th August 1968 suffered an unplanned twenty minute delay, due to "camera trouble".

  • When the 'A' Unit wrapped on They Keep Killing Steed on Thursday 29th August 1968, Linda Thorson was sent straight to the 'B' Unit to film her first scenes for Wish You Were Here. In the afternoon, the 'A' Unit moved on to work on Killer, a deliberately 'Tara-lite' episode which could be easily produced alongside the 'Steed-lite' Wish You Were Here.

  • Filming on this episode was completed on Thursday 12th September 1968 after fifteen filming days – one over schedule. Linda Thorson had completed ten days filming as had Brook Williams and Liam Redmond. Patrick Macnee and Patrick Newell were each involved in just two days shooting for Wish You Were Here.


  • On Location... The shooting of Wish You Were Here took the crew back to the beautiful Edgwarebury House on Edgwarebury Lane in Elstree. The Avengers had previously visited during the filming of the 1967 episode You Have Just Been Murdered. Here it doubled as the Elizabethan Hotel. At the time of filming, the property was known as the Edgwarebury Country Club. Today, after an expensive restoration, it is called the Edgwarebury Corus Hotel and is a popular meeting place for fans of The Avengers and ITC series such as Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

  • The other major location in this episode was Star House, an office block situated at 69-71 Clarendon Road, Watford. In Wish You Were Here, it was shown as the base of Charles Merrydale's business. The property has now been demolished, with a new office block erected in its place. Star House also featured – quite coincidentally – in You Have Just Been Murdered, along with Edgwarebury House.

  • The studio backlot at ABP Elstree Studios on Shenley Road, Borehamwood, served as the filming location for the scene where Steed finds Maples dead, the victim of a hit and run driver. On the perimeter of the studio grounds, this location is instantly recognisable due to the distinctive line of poplar trees. It features on several occasions in The Avengers (most notably as the pet cemetery in The £50,000 Breakfast) and can regularly be spotted in episodes of ITC shows. Its most famous use was arguably as the graveyard containing the grave of Marty Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).


  • Meet Mother... Mother swings on a set of giant weighing scales which are suspended from the ceiling. The room is otherwise filled with lifesize black-and-white photographic cutouts of personnel under suspicion of being double agents. The scales may be interpreted as a little wink to the pivoted boom mechanism in the control room of The Prisoner's Village.


  • Trivia... An abstract painting previously seen in the Series 5 episodes From Venus With Love and Epic was called into service once more and appears on the wall of Maple's office towards the beginning of the episode. It was also seen in Series 6's False Witness and two episodes of The Saint – The Power Artists and Portrait of Brenda.

  • This episode introduces us both to Tara's Irish uncle, Charles Merrydale, and Mother's quite-quite-incompetent nephew, Basil Crighton-Latimer, who is sent to assist Tara at the Elizabethan Hotel. Tara and Basil had previously crossed paths during training.


  • Déja Vu... Tara's turn as the Elizabethan Hotel's chef recalls Steed's cover in the Series 3 episode, Death a la Carte.

  • When Basil arrives at the Elizabethan Hotel, the staff are perplexed by the sheer amount of sports and leisure paraphenalia that he has brought with him. This is pretty much a direct steal from the sequence in the Series 4 episode, The Girl from Auntie, where Steed returns from his holiday in a black cab and has travelled with a similar collection of equipment.

  • Also referencing a Series 4 episode, Tara discovers that her cardigan has had a large hole burned into it by the hotel staff when they cleaned it for her. This mirrors a similar plot point in The Town of No Return.


  • And Finally... The popular annual Avengers fan gathering Dead Man's Treasure Hunt chose the Edgwarebury Hotel location as the base for their 2011 event, which marked both 50 years of The Avengers and 25 years of the Treasure Hunt.

Plotline by Alan Hayes • UK Transmissions by Simon Coward, Alan Hayes and John Tomlinson
World Premieres by Denis Kirsanov • Ministry Verdict by Alan Hayes
Declassified by Gareth Humphreys and Alan Hayes

 

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