ITV (ended 1968)
meb955: one of the inside jokes of the series was that mcgoohan's character could very well have been the same one (although he denied it) he played in his earlier series, "danger man." and the prisoner was what happened when the original character tries to resign. [sic]
It must be remembered that George Markstein devised his portion of the Prisoner premise (an intelligence agent resigns, is kidnapped and incarcerated in a resort-like prison but doesn't know by whom, etc.) as a revamp of Danger Man/Secret Agent when, upon arriving as its new script editor, he heard Patrick McGoohan complaining about the plots getting stale. The star liked the concept, but incorporated it into ideas he had been toying with since he first saw--and was highly impressed by--Portmeirion when the original (NATO-based) Danger Man had done some location filming there. So there's really little question that DM creator/producer/frequent-writer Ralph Smart not getting one penny out of The Prisoner was a screw job. And that events seen in such DM episodes as "Yesterday's Enemies" (that one in particular) giving John Drake doubts about his career choice led to the resignation seen in the main opening titles of fifteen episodes of The Prisoner.
Patrick McGoohan wanted to leave the identity of Number One as an allegory, so we will still be debating the show 40 years later. It's better for residual income. After all, no one debates who Dr. No is, because it was so obvious in James Bond. Anyway, my Episode 5 is called The Schizoid Man. Number 6 meets an exact double of himself, who is better in many ways, such as fencing and getting the confidence of his girl friend, Number 24. There was no mention of plastic surgery, so maybe he was an "evil twin" separated at birth, and unknown to 6. While 6 was climbing the ladder of the British Secret Service, his twin was climbing with the New World Order. It seemed to me that Schizoid Six was really Number 1, as he was quite sharp and strong. Number One was always referred to as a man by Number 2, saying "Yes Sir" etc. So my theory is that the "Double 6" (Number 12) did not really die when attacked by Rover (just an overgrown balloon), recovered, and returned in the final Fall Out episode to taunt 6.
Concerning "The Schizoid Man" it must be remembered that The Prisoner had been brainwashed into believing, among other things, that he was left-handed, hence a reduction in his competency at such physical pursuits as fencing (and boxing and shooting) against The Double. Number 24 (oddly, more frequently referred to as Allison) was apparently coerced into her initial betrayal (if that's really the right word) of Number Six, which she essentially admits to him at the helipad. How she and The Double had a successful "mind-reading" session is unexplained, but as our hero himself once said of The Village, "Nothing's impossible in this place." And now that you mention it I certainly agree that his claim that Number Twelve was dead was, at least at the point he said so, unjustified. So maybe "Fall Out"'s #1 was the same Double. Nice thought!
The post above about the lip-reading set me on a related search regarding the opening. I found the below on a google search, which, while not authoratative, did stop me bothering to look any further. I thought I'd reproduce it here for what it's worth.
Has any lip-reader translated what Patrick McGoohan's character says as he resigns in the opening credits of The Prisoner?
Does it provide any clue to why the soon-to-be Number Six resigns as a secret agent? AS A trainee technical assistant on The Prisoner, I was present when many scenes were filmed.
In the opening sequence, the bald, bespectacled man seated at the desk (to whom Patrick McGoohan gives his resignation) is American journalist and novelist George Markstein, the man who conceived The Prisoner, though most publicity claimed McGoohan himself created the series.
The resignation of Number Six (McGoohan's character) was filmed entirely in silence, with sound effects dubbed on afterwards, so no dialogue was scripted for the scene and no mics used.
When the camera rolled, McGoohan paced back and forth in front of Markstein's desk, reciting a poem by W. B. Yeats, pretending it was dialogue.
Ah, that was more than just a random website that came from, it's from Leaving a bitter taste; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS, The Daily Mail. Still just hearsay, but sure, why not.
Well, its totally denying any creator credit to McGoohan is one reason "why not." McGoohan had been very impressed by Portmeirion when the original Danger Man (39 half-hour episodes initially aired in 1960-61) did some location filming there. He spent years (presumably off and on around other work) developing a series concept about a strange, isolated community where conformity is demanded but one man insists on being an individual, a platform from which various societal themes could be explored. I strongly suspect that during this period he wrote a full script draft of what we know as "Free For All" (note that in the filmed version even though the newest #2 indicates a total victory for the masters of The Village they have in fact gained nothing from our hero). When George Markstein joined the second run of DM as its script editor as of its third and abandoned-after-two-episodes season and heard McGoohan complaining about the plots being the same old stuff, he conceived a revamp in which John Drake resigns and is consequently kidnapped to a resort-like prison by persons unknown. McGoohan took this and used it instead as a narrative hook to pitch his Portmeirion-inspired project to ITC boss Lew Grade. That's the reality, and giving creator credit entirely to Markstein is completely wrong.