The Prisoner: Season 1, Episode 1

The Chimes of Big Ben (8 Oct. 1967)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Mystery
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Nadia, Number 8, arrives in The Village and together with Number 6 they plot their escape.



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Title: The Chimes of Big Ben (08 Oct 1967)

The Chimes of Big Ben (08 Oct 1967) on IMDb 8.8/10

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Episode cast overview:
Nadia Gray ...
Richard Wattis ...
Angelo Muscat ...
Kevin Stoney ...
Christopher Benjamin ...
Number Two's Assistant
David Arlen ...
Peter Swanwick ...
Hilda Barry ...
No. 38
Jack Le White ...
First Judge (as Jack Le-White)
John Maxim ...
Second Judge
Lucy Griffiths ...
Third Judge


A new prisoner, Nadia, or Number Eight, knows where the Village is, which means she and Number Six can escape. Using a boat that was disguised as a piece of abstract art, they make their way to the nearest shore and from there back to London, hidden in packing crates. But Number Six learns that nothing in this adventure was what it seemed. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

8 October 1967 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the art show, No 6 produces an abstract sculpture, and is asked by a puzzled competition judge, "There's just one thing I don't understand. Where is No 2?". Every other artwork in the competition is a depiction of the Village's leader. This can be seen as a parody of various twentieth century dictatorships, most notably those of Zedong Mao, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler in which the supreme leader was sculpted and painted over and over again by various people, and had their portraits hung everywhere. Modern art is also sent up in The Prisoner: The General (1967). See more »


Nadia says she does not consider herself Russian, but Estonian. However, her character has an ethnic Russian name and speaks Russian without an Estonian accent. (The actress Nadia Gray was herself Romanian.) See more »


[first lines]
Woman Over Loudspeaker: Good morning, good morning, good morning. And what a lovely day it is. Rise and shine, rise and shine! Before our program of early-morning music, here are two announcements. The long-range weather forecast is that the fine spell will continue for at least another month. Your local council - and remember it is *your* local council, democratically elected by you - have decided to organize a great new competition. Can you paint? Can you draw? Can you model in clay? If you can, then ...
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References Flower Pot Men (1952) See more »


Performed by Queen's Hall Light Orchestra (uncredited)
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User Reviews

"I don't want a man of fragments!"
24 October 2009 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

The second 'Prisoner' to be shown in the U.K., this is one of Patrick McGoohan's core seven episodes ( the other ten were added to make the series saleable to America ). It is indeed a strong story of manipulation and betrayal, conforming to the conventional spy theme established by its predecessor 'Arrival'. Things would start to get really weird with 'Free For All'.

Number 6 prepares to face a new day while watched by the latest Number 2 ( Leo McKern ) and his Assistant ( Christopher Benjamin ). 2 comments on how 6 can 'make even the act of putting on his dressing gown appear as a gesture of defiance!'. Annoyed by the blaring radio he cannot turn off, 6 puts it in his fridge, provoking 2's admiring laughter. It is now some months since 6's arrival, and still he has not been broken. 2 wishes to know the reason for 6's resignation, so an elaborate scam is put in place.

A new arrival in The Village, Nadia ( Nadia Gray ), comes from Estonia. Before she resigned, she saw a secret file in which the Village's location was given as Lithuania. 6 befriends her, and uses an arts and crafts competition as a cover to make a boat, in which they both take to sea late one night. 'Rover' chases them along the Baltic coast, until a man with a high-powered rifle shoots it away. So now 6 and Nadia are free. Or are they?

The outcome is superbly executed, with not only McGoohan brilliant but also Kevin Stoney as 'Colonel J' and Richard Wattis as 'Fotheringay'. The latter had appeared in a number of early 'Danger Man' episodes in the role of 'Hardy'. In a line of dialogue deleted from the broadcast episode, Fotheringay claimed to have been at school with Number 6.

This story began a thread of speculation amongst viewers that the British Establishment might conceivably control the Village. At one point 6 asks Colonel J: "Are you sure you haven't got a Village here?".

As 'Number 2', the bearded McKern manages to be both sinister and likable, putting that wonderfully raucous laugh of his to good use. "You'll be back...whimpering!", he yells at 6 as he leaves The Green Dome. Small wonder that McKern was asked to return ( not once, but twice ).

The late Nadia Gray is very much a 'Danger Man' sort of Russian; beautiful, courageous ( she tries to escape from The Village soon after her capture by swimming out to sea ) and strangely enigmatic. Her banter with 6 inside the crate suggests she has fallen for him.

One of my favourite scenes is the hilarious arts and crafts competition. Puzzled by his unusual entry ( which he calls 'Escape' ), the judges ask Number 6 what it is ( anticipating the very questions McGoohan would later be asked about the series itself ). When one likens it to a church door, he snaps: "Right first time!". Art means whatever you want it to mean.

Finlay Currie appears as a grumpy old General, whom 6 plays chess with ( rather like the 'Admiral' from 'Arrival' ).

Written by Vincent Tilsley, later to write 'Face Unknown' ( retitled 'Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling' ) for the series. Your heart will go out to 6 in the final scene. Luckily, we are consoled by the fact that there are another fifteen shows left.

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