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As a kid, the thing that struck me about The Prisoner was how odd the hero was.

And watching the series again as an adult you indeed  get the full measure of what a curious leading-man McGoohan created in Number Six. The cult series has rightly been lauded it for its surreal, bombastic subversion of the spy genre, but it’s the imperious, charismatic McGoohan himself, like a fox in a madhouse, who always commanded the attention. 

Number Six was a startling prototype  for the troubled, idiosyncratic action hero we know so well today. By turns charming, caustic, glowering, intense, sarcastic, vicious, egotistical, contemptuous and childish.

Number Six was never an Everyman, he was an individual – a misfit and a trouble-maker – and beneath the sly intelligence that was to later make McGoohan the ultimate Columbo nemesis, there were odd flashes of cold misogyny and misanthropy.

Just a shame, then, that he never did get that James Bond gig. He would have been quite something.

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