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The Prisoner

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138-at-popapostle-dot-com
The Prisoner: The Chimes of Big Ben The Prisoner
"The Chimes of Big Ben"
Audio Drama
Written by Nicholas Briggs
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Released January 2016

(Big Ben image from Wikipedia by Bordas - Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

 

A new captive tries a novel approach to escaping the Village.

 

Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode

 

Number 54

Number 6

Number 9 (deceased, mentioned only)

nurse

Rover

the Butler

Number 2

Village Voice

Number 1 (mentioned only)

Number 8

waitress

Operations Controller

ambulance attendants

Number 38

head judge (art festival)

Karel

Danvers

Control (mentioned only)

conductor 

 

Didja Know?

 

The Big Finish version of The Prisoner is an audio drama reimagining of the classic 1967 TV series of the same name.

 

The series can occasionally be heard on the BBC Radio website.

 

This episode gets its title and most of its story from original TV series episode "The Chimes of Big Ben". 

 

 

 

Didja Notice?

 

The Village infirmary seems to be able to heal broken bones almost immediately.

 

Hearing a slight tapping noise through the wall of his cottage, Number 6 remarks to himself, "Don't tell me there's deathwatch beetle in the woodwork." Deathwatch beetles are a species of woodboring beetle that make a tapping or ticking sound to attract mates.

 

During his conversation with the new Number 2 about the Village Festival, Number 6 refers to the Village as a "happy, clappy Alcatraz". "Alcatraz" refers to Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a former U.S. maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. It operated from 1934-1963 and is now a museum and tourist attraction.

 

As Number 6 walks the new Number 2 to the Stone Boat, Number 2 begins singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", a 1912 British music hall song that became popular during the WWI.

 

Number 8 claims to be from Lithuania, the same nation she later claims the Village is located in. If this is true, it would indicate that the Village houses government workers of opposing nations since Lithuania was part of the communist Soviet bloc at the time (circa 1967/68), while, of course, Number 6 was a member of British (Western) service. In the original TV series episode "The Chimes of Big Ben", Nadia claimed to be from Estonia, another communist bloc nation at the time (though she still claimed the Village was located on the coast of Lithuania).

 

Number 8 reveals to Number 6 that her real name is Nadia Rakowski. This same name was also used in the original TV series episode.

 

Number 8 is revealed to be an Olympic bronze medal-winning swimmer, just as she was in the original TV series episode.

 

When Number 8 tries to swim in the sea away from the Village, Number 2 sends Rover after her and instructs it to deploy buoyancy aids to return with her. In the original TV series episode, Rover is seen carrying Number 8 back to shore with two smaller spherical balloons supporting its captive on the surface of the water.

 

Number 2 mentions that they have lip-reading software for occasions when only visual surveillance is available in the more remote woodland outskirts of the Village.

 

In the woods, Number 6 remarks to Number 8 that he came up there once before when he was foolish enough to think he could escape. This incident has not been depicted in the current audio drama series.

 

Number 8 tells Number 6 they could potentially escape just thirty miles away to Braniewo, Poland. This same town was mentioned in the original TV series episode. Poland, at the time, was another Soviet bloc country.

 

Number 8 remarks that she once visited London and heard the chimes of Big Ben.

 

During the exhibition, Number 2 refers to Number 6 as "our very own Jacob Epstein". This is a reference to the British sculptor (1880-1959).

 

Number 38 enters the Village art festival with a shawl sewed with the image of Number 2. In the original TV series episode, it was a tapestry.

 

Number 6 wins the art festival and uses the 2000 work units reward to purchase the shawl made by Number 38. He then uses the shawl as a sail for his covert boat which he and Number 8 sail away in. It seems unlikely that a simple shawl would be of much use as a sail! In the original TV series episode, the artwork that Number 6 purchased to use as a sail was a tapestry, which would make for a more likely stand-in for a sail. Possibly, writer Nicholas Briggs thought the original story made it a little too convenient for Number 6 to be able to purchase a tapestry to use as a sail, so he changed it to a shawl.

 

Karel tells Number 6 that he and Nadia will travel to Gdańsk to Danzig to Copenhagen to London. Yet, Danzig is the German-occupation name for Gdańsk...they are the same city! Other than that, this is the same route travelled in the original TV series episode.

 

Numbers 6 and 8 are greeted by Danvers upon their arrival in "London". Danvers previously appeared in "Departure and Arrival".

 

When Number 6 asks for Control, Danvers tells him that he is away on a conference in Geneva.

 

Danvers remarks that Number 6 was the best agent they had when he suddenly resigned.

 

Danvers remarks that it has been a year since ZM-73 (Number 6) resigned. Number 6 seems surprised that it has been an entire year. But, since this whole escape scenario turns out to be a ruse by the powers-that-be of the Village, is the one-year timeline even accurate?

 

Danvers makes reference to valiant MI6 agents "saving the day". This would seem to suggest that Danvers and, formerly, Number 6, work for MI6 themselves. MI-6 is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom. In the original TV series, it was never indicated what UK government agency Number 6 had formerly worked for, though in the DC comics mini-series Shattered Image, MI5 is hinted at, MI5 being the UK's domestic intelligence service.

 

   Number 6 realizes he's been tricked about arriving in London when Big Ben chimes for 7:00 by his Polish-set watch, when it should be an hour behind, 6:00, in London. It is true that Poland's time zone is one hour behind that of England. In the original TV series episode, the time in question in London was 8:00.

   When Number 6 realizes the time discrepancy that it should be only 6:00 now in London, Number 8 then points out that Big Ben does show as 6:00. In this version of the story (different from that in the original TV episode), the powers-that-be in the Village are able to run a holographic simulation that is instantly transmographiable (a somewhat less sophisticated version of the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation).

 

Number 6 tosses the watch he received from Karel into the Thames. The Thames is the longest river in England, running through London and beside Big Ben.

 

At the end of this episode, it is revealed that Number 8 is actually the next Number 2. This is reminiscent of Number 6's maid, Number 58, revealed as probably the incoming new Number 2 at the end of "Free For All" in the original TV series.


Memorable Dialog

dwarf butler with an iron grip.mp3
how may I entertain you?.mp3
a glass of water.mp3
the new Number 2.mp3
happy, clappy Alcatraz.mp3
a rather sinister interpretation.mp3
they have a way with words here.mp3
you do keep a fellow laughing don't you.mp3
no escapes from here in living memory.mp3
suicide.mp3
you really are a caution.mp3
don't give them the satisfaction.mp3
sleep tight.mp3
the most sophisticated torture chamber ever devised.mp3

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