Confusion is order of day as The Prisoner's fans gather

Portmeirion plays host to devotees of the Sixties cult series
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The Independent Online
In the Italianate village of Portmeirion, Gwynedd, fans of the cult Sixties television series The Prisoner, who had gathered for their annual convention this weekend, were convinced that a proposed Hollywood movie could only undermine the spirit of their obsession, writes Michael Prestage.

Already confused, its viewers were left in the dark when the last episode featured its star, Patrick McGoohan, speeding off down the runway in his Lotus 7. A Hollywood production is unlikely to be so cryptic.

"I would rather The Prisoner was left alone," Max Hora, one of the 10 co-ordinators of Six of One, the programme's appreciation society, said. "It captured the spirit of the Sixties and the fear is any film may be unrecognisable as The Prisoner."

Gwynedd County Council, which has a unit encouraging film making, is hoping that if the production does go ahead it will again be filmed at Portmeirion. Actors' names speculatively linked with the title role include Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford.

For Max Hora, The Prisoner is his life. He was 12 when the series - based around a secret agent who resigns, is abducted and taken to the Village where he is given the number six and mysterious figures try to brainwash him - was first shown in 1967. Now 40, he runs the Number 6 shop at Portmeirion.

"The Prisoner has changed my life. Some people did not like the series and didn't understand it. Its secret was it didn't serve up answers on a plate. You're meant to interpret things in your own way. There is always a doubt in your mind what it is about." The 17 episodes were re-run in the Seventies, Eighties and again in 1992.

Each re-run has boosted membership for the 2,000-strong society and brought new faces at the annual convention where around 400 gather.

The convention, now in its 18th year, follows a predictable pattern. There is a re-run of the series and key scenes are re-enacted: the boxing match from "The Girl Who Was Deaf" and the human chess match from "Checkmate" were included this year.

Natasha Neal, from Desborough, Northamptonshire, is at 19 one of the youngest society members. She joined after seeing the series in 1992 and being puzzled by what it meant.

"I joined hoping to find somebody who could tell me about it. For us, Portmeirion is our mecca," she said.