The Unmutual Reviews: THE SEPTEMBER 2016 LOCATION TOUR WEEKEND
Review and photos (c) and by Rick Davy.
Thanks to Dave Lally of The London Prisoner Group, and the members and organisers of the MGM Borehamwood Group (and Elstree Screen Heritage), the first weekend in September of 2016 marked a whole weekend of tours and activities related to The Prisoner, on the very weekend that Portmeirion location shooting for the series began 50 years previously.
The weekend began on the Friday with a special visit, organised by Dave, to Hatfield in Hertfordshire, to visit locations used in the Prisoneresque 'Danger Man' episode 'Colony 3', which sees Patrick McGoohan's John Drake character undercover in a strange training village for spies.
Saturday saw the yearly MGM Birehamwood tours take place, which began at 10.30 at Borehamwood and Elstree Station, where many refernces to the town's rich film and television history can be found.
Among these include a series of pavement plaques in honour of great stars to have graced the studios of the town, including of course Patrick McGoohan.
Dave Lally then took attendees on a whistle-stop tour of 'Prisoner' locations from the episode 'The Girl Who Was Death'.
As well as other TV and film locations, such as BBC Elstree.
The final stop of the tour was the Toby carvery on Studio Way, which of course stands on the site of the 'Harmony' backlot set.
It was then over theMGM tour guide and expert Kieran McAleer to guide attendees round the afternoon tour of the former site of the MGM studios, where of course 'The Prisoner' was filmed.
It was utterly fascinating to learn, through Kieran's knowledge and exceptional photographs, what used to lie beneath the bricks of the modern housing estate, and even more wondrous to see that several location still exist today, such as the pathway that Number Six runs back to the village down at the end of 'Living in Harmony'.
Huge thanks must go to Kieran, for a fascinating tour which included details of all the backlot sets seen in many episodes of the series, and other series such as 'UFO' and films such as 'Quatermass and The Pit', 'Ivanhoe', 'No Blade of Grass', and countless others.
The tour is affectionately known as 'the tour of places that aren't there', but that would be inaccurate, as the tour concluded at the site of the last remaining building from MGM, the electrcity substation at what was the old East gate of the studios. Sadly (see news item on the main news page) it appears that this building may also be demolished soon.
After a drink at the Mops and Brooms, an impromptu visit (thanks to Al Samujh and Sam Denham, following Kieran's excellent directions) took place to another 'Prisoner' location, to the alleyway where Number Six releases the pigeon in 'Hammer Into Anvil'. More overgrown 50 years on, but instantly recognisable nevertheless.
After an evening meal and social meet up back at the Toby, it was time to retire before the Sunday tours took place.
Dave Lally's Sunday tours, no matter how many times one attends, are always well attended and great fun and I recommend them to all.
The morning tour always begins at Victoria Station and it's always great to see new folk attending for their first tour.
The Sunday morning tour is largely related to Danger Man. Not only is John Drake's house, seen in 4 episodes, visited, but also the opening title sequence location.
In addition, thanks to Matt Courtman at the 'Danger Man' website, a tour of locations from the episodes 'Fair Exchange' and 'Don't Nail Him Yet' now takes centre stage.
Thanks to Tina, who had come all the way from Germany for the weekend's evebnts, we were able to see the locations in person as well as on the screen. Locations from other series are visited, such as 'Return of the Saint', 'The Baron', and 'Randall and Hopkirk Deceased', as well as other places of interest such as one of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis's early offices, and Marylebone Station, which appears in the Beatles' film 'A Hard Days Night'.
After a break for lunch, it was time for the ever-popular afternoon London 'Prisoner' locations tour, which Dave has been organising since late Victorian times. Starting at Marble Arch, it was again great to see so many new faces, as well as returning fans, wanting to visit the 20+ locations visited.
Locations from the opening sequence form much of the tour, as well as locations from the episodes which feature London sequences, such as 'many Happy Returns', 'Fall Out', and 'Do Not Forsake Me'.
Overall, a fantastic time was had by all, as the tired but happy bunch arrived at Number Six's London home.
Monday, the last day of the weekend's activities, saw a very special event, a 'Prisoner' picnic in Teddington. The reason? To see the Breda (more information HERE), which was the boat used in 'The Prisoner' as MS Polotska in the episode 'Checkmate' and also in 'Many Happy Returns' as the Gunrunner's ship (photo (c) Tina Jerke).
Thanks so much to Dave, Kieran, and everyone involved in a fantastic weekend's FREE TO ATTEND events. More of the same next year please, chaps!
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