Living Columns & Blogs

‘The Prisoner’ celebrates 50th anniversary, and its meaning remains object of debate

Portmeirion, a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales, where scenes of “The Prisoner” were filmed.
Portmeirion, a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales, where scenes of “The Prisoner” were filmed. Geograph

The Fresno County Library’s Bookshelf column shares suggestions for books, music, and other items, and provides information about library programs.

50 Years of ‘The Prisoner’

“The Prisoner” was a 17-episode BCC production made in 1967-68 that IMDB describes as “a unique piece of television. It addresses issues such as personal identity and freedom, democracy, education, scientific progress, art and technology, while still remaining an entertaining drama series.”

Many credit it as impactful on TV throughout generations – none more overt than “Battlestar Galactica” which has a character named “Number 6” – same as the leading character of “The Prisoner” played by Patrick McGoohan. In “The Prisoner,” Number Six is abducted from his London home and held captive in a seaside village – but under whose orders, and for what reason, and for how long? The arguments over what it all means continue today.

▪ “The Prisoner (DVD).” Catch all 17 episodes in one handy place.

▪ “Secret Agent/Danger Man (DVD).” This prequel-of-sorts to “The Prisoner” also stars Patrick McGoohan as John Drake, a British spy. Set during the Cold War, he risks life and limb in every episode to help the free world stay alive.

▪ “Westworld: The Complete First Season (DVD).” One of the many television shows that owes a debt to “The Prisoner,” conjuring a nightmare world where unseen forces collide with the characters, and the lines between reality and fantasy are ever-blurred.

Top 5 most requested books

▪ “Y Is for Yesterday,” by Sue Grafton.

▪ “Any Dream Will Do: A Novel,” by Debbie Macomber.

▪ “The Store,” by James Patterson.

▪ “Seeing Red,” by Sandra Brown.

▪ “The Lying Game,” by Ruth Ware.

New Arrivals

▪ “The Café by the Sea: A Novel,” by Jenny Colgan. Flora MacKenzie returns to her home island of Mure off the Scottish coast. She has trouble reconnecting with her family and siblings, but finds her true loves in (and outside of) the kitchen!

▪ “The Captain’s Daughter: A Novel,” by Meg Mitchell Moore. A father in need brings Eliza Barnes back to her old stomping grounds in Maine, where she wonders how her life would have been had she stayed – and if her past might influence her future.

▪ “Peterson’s How to Get Money for College 2018,”by the staff of Peterson’s. Looking for more ways to finance the ever-increasing cost of higher education? This guide shows the extra aid available at 2,300 different colleges and universities.


▪ Make It and Take It! A mobile makerspace – bring your creative project ideas and build something cool in art, electronics or computers (or all three). 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Riverdale Branch Library. Details: 559-867-3381.

▪ Author Talk: Susan Lowe discusses her book, “Josie: A Story of Faith and Survival,” about the chaotic world of ethnic Germans in post-World War II Yugoslavia. Copies will be available for purchase and signing following the event. 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Gillis Branch Library; details, 559-225-0140) and 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Fowler Branch Library, details, 559-600-9281.

▪ Crafterday Saturday: Enjoy a different, fun craft with other local people every month. No experience required. All supplies are provided by the library. 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Auberry Branch Library. Details: 559-855-8523.

This is a weekly column written by the Fresno County Public Library staff. Events are usually free. Visit, or call 559-600-6227 for details.