July 24, 2017

FASHION MYSTERY 2: JOHN BATES

In my last post on Spy Vibe I featured Bruno Benini, a well-known Australian-Italian photographer. One his best-known works is an image of model Jan Stewart in a mod geometric mini-dress that is always credited to Simona for Sportsgirl. It's a beautiful photograph and Stewart is absolutely stunning. Yet the design seemed awfully familiar to me. Indeed, we all know this design! Stewart was actually posing in a famous outfit designed by John Bates (Jean Varon) for Diana Rigg in The Avengers. His designs were in high demand. According to Richard Lester's (not the movie director) book, "By the summer of 1969 John's designs were appearing in the fashion press under five different labels, and a decade of relentless promotion meant the profile of Jean Varon was at a high, exporting to forty-four countries across the globe and with twenty-eight boutiques in the leading stores across the country." Simona was established in 1963 just before The Avengers fashions were about to hit, so I must assume John Bates licensed his design to them. Or was this simply a case of easy borrowing in the 1960s? I've written to Simona and will let you know if I receive further information. See for yourselves below: John Bates' original design for Diana Rigg, Jean Shrimpton dressed in the outfit with Avengers stunt director Ray Austin (see upcoming event!), and Jan Stewart photographed by Bruno Benini from my previous post. In other Australian news, have you heard Spy Vibe's segments on the Cocktail Natiion radio show? I introduce a spy film or series each month and play rare soundtracks and covers. Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint). Related posts: Avengers Pop Art Interview, Diana Rigg Auto Show, Avengers Interview: Alan Hayes, Jaz Wiseman Interview, Avengers Interview: Mike Richardson, Casino Royale Interview: Mike Richardson, The Saint Interview: Ian Dickerson, Avengers Interview: Rodney Marshall, Avengers Interview Rodney Marshall 2, John Buss Interview, Farewell Steed, Shakespeare Spies: Diana Rigg, Lost Diana Rigg Interview, Diana Rigg BFI Screening, Avengers Season 5 Titles, The Avengers Sing, Lost Avengers Vol 2-7, Richard Sala Interview: Super Enigmatix, Adventures of Richard Sala Interview, Avengerworld, Integrity Toys Dolls, Enjoy!





Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Roger Vivier FashionSpy Vibe Radio 41960s Pop ModelsBatman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseFahrenheit 451 50thInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art.

July 23, 2017

FASHION MYSTERY 1: BRUNO BENINI

Fashion mystery part one: Today our spotlight is on Australian-Italian photographer Bruno Benini. An archive of his works was acquired by the Powerhouse Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in Sydney about ten years ago. Museum curator Anne-Marie Van de Ven expressed just how vital fashion images can be as both time capsules and records of our changing culture when she wrote: "Fashion photographs are good indicators of social change. By their very nature and purpose, fashion photographs are created and designed to document and promote change by capturing or creating the total look, mood or attitudes of the moment. Within their frames (if they’re not shot in the studio which is the case for so many post-WWII photographs) they also frequently document (by capturing) natural, urban, rural, built and interior environments. These images then become highly evocative references to people, places, social, technological, environmental and industrial change at different points in time. With many of Benini’s shots also taken overseas, change of another nature is also revealed - that of Australia’s complex, multicultural society, it’s global aspirations and it’s trade, manufacturing and cultural links with the rest of the world." The highlight for me in the Benini collection is this image of model Jan Stewart (1965 Mannequin of the Year and 1967 Model of the Year). Note that the original negative was a medium-format square image, but the final print was cropped into a vertical. For the photo Stewart wore a drop-waste Mondrian-inspired mini dress- credited to Simona for Sportsgirl. But Spy Vibers will surely recognize the outfit from another source! Tune into my next post for details! As with many Mod designs, the geometric lines helped accentuate that slim, stick-figure vibe of the era. Dressed in this outfit, Stewart would have been right at home beside Elsa Martinelli in The 10th Victim. The Powerhouse museum mounted a large exhibition of Benini's photographs in 2010-11. More info here. Incidentally, the museum is currently running the international Sherlock Holmes exhibit, so check it out if you are down under. In other Australia-related news, my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show are now live: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), Episode #5 (The Avengers).



Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Spy Vibe Radio 41960s Pop ModelsBatman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseFahrenheit 451 50thInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art.

July 21, 2017

TIKI OASIS

Event Alert: Spy Vibers, do you have your passes to Tiki Oasis 2017? Every year jet setters gather in San Diego to steep in Tiki pop culture, cool exhibits, cocktails, and fun entertainment. From the press release: "Intrigue abounds at Tiki Oasis this year. Imagine sampans drifting across the Banda Sea. Expect spies and their agencies to conduct counterintelligence resulting in entertainment for all. Our agents have traveled the world bringing back art, rum, and entertainment from countries around the globe. You might envision yourself to be Marco Polo traveling the Silk Road; executing an impossible mission as an agent of T.I.K.I. en route to Constantinople via The Orient Express; touring your Jensen Interceptor or a Monteverdi High Speed over the Alps; riding a Rickshaw through Tokyo chasing agents of A.L.O.H.A.; crossing The Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea, or the Bay of Bengal; or hopscotching the globe from Stockholm to New Amsterdam to Shanghai. If you seek International Intrigue and aspire to join a den of spies, then Tiki Oasis in San Diego is your destination. Don appropriate duds, grab your favorite Tiki mug, hop in your hot air balloon and join us for three days and four nights of fun." August 10-13. More info at Tiki Oasis. In other news, my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show are now live: Episode #1(Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint). Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Spy Vibe Radio 41960s Pop ModelsBatman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseFahrenheit 451 50thInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art.

July 15, 2017

OSS 117 EVENT

Event alert: Spy Vibers in Los Angeles can see two classic 1960s OSS 117 Eurospy movies on the big screen this month- in glorious 35mm film! Quentin Terantino's New Beverly Cinema is presenting Secret Agent Super Dragon: "Blondes, brunettes, redheads, murderers, smugglers or master criminals – his fire could take them all! Ray Danton is Secret Agent Super Dragon in this thrilling Eurospy adventure filled with espionage excitement, evil super-villains, daring fisticuffs and deadly vixens. After his colleague is killed, Super Dragon is called back into action to unravel the mysteries of an international crime syndicate and their potent new drug designed for world domination." Readers might remember the MST3K version! Second on the bill is Murder For Sale: John Gavin stars as OSS 117, a super secret superspy tasked with infiltrating a diabolical organization of ruthless killers trying to hijack the Middle East peace process. Along the way he’ll come across heavies (Curd J├╝rgens of The Spy Who Loved Me, Italian genre star George Eastman), beauties (Thunderball‘s Luciana Paluzzi), and dodge death at every turn while stopping to inject himself with a daily antidote to the poison coursing through his veins. Murder For Sale is a deliciously entertaining plate of spyghetti and an interesting look at what could have been – Gavin was originally tagged to play James Bond in Diamonds are Forever before Sean Connery was lured back to the series." Screenings are on July 26-27. More info at New Beverly Cinema. In other news, my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show are now live: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint). Enjoy!



Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Roger Vivier FashionSpy Vibe Radio 41960s Pop ModelsBatman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseFahrenheit 451 50thInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art.

July 13, 2017

BOND JAPAN LOCATION

You Only Live Twice made its debut on the big screen 50 years ago on June 12th 1967. As someone who lived in Japan, I was always curious about how Bond author conducted his research that generated the original novel (published March 26, 1964). One of the rare photographs in my collection offered a clue to go behind-the-scenes at the creation of the eleventh James Bond novel, You Only Live TwiceIan Fleming had been sending his secret agent 007 around the world since Casino Royale in 1953. And when it came time to plan the twelfth book, the author chose Japan as the main setting. Fleming's timing couldn't have been better. The country was booming with economic and technological growth, and a new international fascination would soon blossom with increased tourism around the Tokyo Olympics. Fleming had visited Japan once before, when he was writing Thrilling Cities in 1959, and he returned in late autumn of 1962 to find elements that would suit the next James Bond thriller. Meeting up with journalist Richard Hughes and editor/architect Torao "Tiger" Saito, Fleming hoped to soak in "local color, factual detail, spiritual inspiration, and carnal folklore." (Hughes/Foreign Devil). They stopped in Tokyo and Kobe during a two-week journey that took them down the inland sea to Kyushu. But where exactly did he visit? The rare photo held the answer. Posing next to a demon statue, Fleming playfully pulled at its belly button for the camera. In the background are signposts that provided clues to Fleming's route. Continues below.

For those who haven't read You Only Live Twice, Bond's nemesis Blofeld turns up in Japan, where he lords over a castle surrounded by a macabre garden of deathly delights. Fleming needed to find dramatic and deadly elements for the setting and his research reportedly contained detailed taxonomy of all manner of poisonous fauna and flora. Kyushu is renown for its hot springs and live volcanoes, and he couldn't have picked a better location than Beppu, Mt. Aso, and the Fukuoka area. Based on testimony in the author's biography and intel gleaned from the signposts in the photo, I was able to create a map of Fleming's route (below). His first stop on the island was the small city of Beppu. If you have ever been to the area, you will know why the author and his friends made such an effort to get there. In the heart of the hot springs rests a special attraction. I can imagine Fleming's eyes lighting up upon hearing its name- "Mt. Demon Hell"! It must have sounded tailor-made for a diabolical mastermind. Visitors to the mountain are greeted by the statues of giant demons, who overlook an assortment of bubbling pools of mud and scalding water. It is a rocky terrain, where the air is thick with steam and sulphur. There is even a place where crocodiles are bred! One demon statue in particular rests on a rock and wields an ominous club. Ian Fleming is seen in the image above at this site in 1962, posing for a photograph presumedly by one of his two traveling companions. Incidentally, Fleming's guides found their way into the novel as the Dikko Henderson and Tiger Tanaka characters. Fleming returned from the trip to complete the book during the early winter of 1963 in Jamaica. The novel was published by Jonathan Cape in March, 1964. Fleming died five months later in August. The book was adapted for cinema by Roald Dahl in 1967. Story continues.


I lived in Japan for a number of years to teach English in a northern farming town and was fortunate to be able to travel the country. During my own trip to Kyushu, I had a chance to follow Ian Fleming's path. We sampled the baths in Beppu and Oita, spent two days photographing wild monkeys on Mt. Takasaki, and made our way to Mt. Aso, Mt. Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture, and to Fukuoka. Amazingly, Mt. Unzen erupted unexpectedly a couple of weeks after we left, killing many people- including a few volcano specialists. It would seem Fleming's intuition about the dangerous vibe of the area was correct. Below: You Only Live Twice, Mr. Bond, but Fleming's great novel has lived on through numerous editions around the world. Enjoy! Our Ian Fleming image archive hereSpy Vibers, please consider making a small donation in our Paypal tip-jar at top-left of the page. Thank you! In other news, my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show are now live: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint). Enjoy!


July 12, 2017

PRISONER COMPARED

New release: Fans of The Prisoner will be interested to hear that Unique But Similar: The Prisoner Compared by Andrew Shenton is coming back into print this month. From the press release: "Over the last 30 years, much has been written about the 1960s ITV series The Prisoner. A peculiar pattern, however, has emerged in the literature. Whilst Patrick McGoohan’s programme is often described as “original” or even “unique”, an increasing trend has been the making of comparisons between The Prisoner and other productions that would seem either to embrace the same themes or to be stylistically similar. In recent years, parallels have been drawn between The Prisoner and Twin Peaks, Life on Mars, Lost and Wayward Pines. Nonetheless, never until the appearance of the first edition of Unique But Similar had a whole book been devoted entirely to comparison of The Prisoner and other works for television. Unique But Similar concentrates on the period of TV history up to 1987, the year of The Prisoner’s 20th anniversary. It scrutinises programmes that were made in an era before the series gained the kind of critical acclaim that it enjoys today and before it exerted the degree of influence that has been more characteristic of television in the last 30 years. Since individual chapters are devoted to such programmes as The Twilight Zone, Blake’s 7, Children of the Stones, UFO and the original version of Doctor Who, the book will appeal not only to fans of The Prisoner but also to students of television history more generally. This new edition incorporates four extra chapters and includes a wealth of other material that enriches the original 2013 version very considerably." More info at Miwk Publishing. Be sure to read our recent interview with Rick Davy and Alan Hayes about the new Prisoner Essential Guide. In other news, my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show are now live: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint). Episode #5 coming up! Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Spy Vibe Radio 41960s Pop ModelsBatman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseFahrenheit 451 50thInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art.

July 7, 2017

INTERVIEW: THE PRISONER GUIDE

Interview: Rick Davy of The Unmutual visited the Spy Vibe lair recently to chat about his new publication The Prisoner: The Essential Guide, the 50th anniversary events, and about our love for Portmeirion (The Village in Wales where the series was filmed). Designer Alan Hayes of Hidden Tiger Books also joined our discussion.  Welcome, Rick and Alan! 


Congrats on the new Prisoner Essential Guide! What does the book cover in terms of scope and content?

Thanks! The book is sort of a ‘beginner’s guide’ to the series, so it tells the story of the conception of the series (with background on Patrick McGoohan and Portmeirion), through pre-production (with a look at the vehicles seen in the series, and Rover), location filming (with a look at the preparation of The Village and the role of the local extras), studio production (with a look at studio filming and other locations), and the legacy that the series have left behind, with a look at the various books and DVDs that the series has spawned. Also included is an episode guide (including synopsis, cast, crew and some interesting facts for each of the 17) and some previously unpublished, and officially licensed, photographs.

Fantastic! It sounds like everything old and new fans will need to jump into the series and understand, as your title suggests, the essentials (and more!). The lovely design work was by our friend, author Alan Hayes of Hidden Tiger Books? What can readers expect to see visually in the Guide?

Alan has done a fantastic job with the book, and I can’t sing his praises high enough. It is full colour throughout and I think the photos are really what sets this book apart from other small guide-sized books which have been printed about the series over the years. I am lucky enough to now own the original recce still photographs which producer Leslie Gilliat took in July 1966, a selection of ITC stills from studio filming, and also second unit cameraman Robert Monks’ private collection, and these can be seen throughout, along with some photographs kindly lent by extras who appeared in the series. I am also excited to have recently uncovered a previously unseen 8mm film of behind the scenes on ‘Arrival’ which was shot by a holidaymaker, so there are some stills from that film in the book too.

That's so great you were able to include rare and unseen materials. You've had a long history with The Prisoner and Portmeirion. Tell us a bit about how you discovered the series and your early impressions.

I was 10 when I first saw the series, in 1983/84 on Channel 4, and it immediately grabbed me as something different. At that point I was used to sci-fi and fantasy (with two older brothers into the genre it was always going to be so), stuff like Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, and Sapphire and Steel, but The Prisoner was unlike anything I’d previously seen, and unlike anything I have seen since. It had a profound effect on me as a youngster, and my fascination and love for the series has not waned in the 33 years since. I first visited Portmeirion in 1987 and I’ve been visiting many times a year, every year, since. Rather like The Prisoner, that place has a certain magic that is difficult to explain. I’ve found, when chatting to other people about both the series and Portmeirion, that one either ‘gets it’ or one doesn’t.


I have a similar history of the show, love at first sight in 1977, but I've only just started my regular visits to The Village a couple of years ago. It is such a magical place. Did you become a collector of Prisoner-related memorabilia and artifacts? What are some of your favorite treasures? Above: Spy Vibe photograph from Portmeirion.

I’ve never been a collector or completist, trying to get each and every badge or fan item that has ever been produced and so forth, but I do like to snap up rarer items when the chance comes up, for the sake of preserving them rather than see them lost in someone’s house for nobody else to enjoy. Especially one-offs, and I am very gratified to own the original master tapes of the first two blocks of soundtrack recordings, and one of only two original prints of the alternative version of the ‘Arrival’ episode, and a few rare stills (which I have included in ‘The Essential Guide’ and also provided to the company NETWORK to include in future editions of the series on DVD and Blu-ray). Unlike other series, which had many episodes produced by a TV company which continued for many years after, at studio buildings which still exist today, we only have 17 episodes filmed at a studio which was demolished shortly after. Rarities such as costumes and original documents are very hard to find because of that.


Were you also a fan or collector of other spy shows and films? Above: Spy Vibe photograph from Portmeirion.

No, only The Prisoner has really grabbed me in that way that I feel I want to preserve items. And thank goodness, I remember my annoyance at Prisoner original costumes being sold off by people who had no right to claim ownership of them in the first place, for the purposes of them being cut up for costume cards. If I invested money and time collecting for other series or films, I think I’d spend most of my time pulling my hair out at such sacrilege. There are other shows I will always love, such as Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Persuaders, and Return of the Saint, and I have a few curios for each, along with curios for a few films, but they tend to be just books and so forth, nothing too exciting. 

Part of your role in preserving The Prisoner is The Unmutual. Please tell us about the organization and its various activities and projects.

I’d like to think of it as a central hub for all Prisoner information, news, events, opinion, and research to be placed, so that everyone can enjoy it for free at any time. Since I took ownership of the site, I’ve also been keen to link up with Ty Gobaith Hospice for terminally ill children, so it’s great to be able to raise awareness and funds for such an important cause. As for any activities or organisation, it’s just a website, there is no group or society or anything like that, despite what some people might have you believe. It’s just a website run by one person, for ALL Prisoner fans to enjoy and contribute to; there’s no committee, group, or rules, and all are welcome. As long as it doesn’t impinge upon the rights of the series’ copyright holders ITV then I am happy to display, link to, or advertise any activity or event. So if any readers have not yet visited or contributed, please do so!

The Guide is perfectly planned for the 50th anniversary celebrations. What is happening in the UK to mark the occasion?

On 29th September 2017 the company NETWORK, who own the distribution rights to the series and are responsible for the fantastic DVD and Bluray (and soundtrack) releases of recent years, are holding a special anniversary event in the village. Details of exactly what will be occurring are still to be announced, but there will be screenings, special guests, activities, and it all coincides with a very exciting new 50th anniversary box set which will include a wealth of new content, including a new film. As always, keep an eye on The Unmutual Website for developments - as and when they are announced by NETWORK I will share the details and links that they provide. More books seem to be in the offing too, so do look out for those, 2017/2018 are going to be busy times for Prisoner fans.


Such exciting news! I'm sure we're all eagerly awaiting details about the Portmeirion event and the upcoming releases! I wish I could be there with everyone, but it will be right as my students and I are starting a new school year. There was a US celebration planned in Seattle, but that has been canceled? Above: Spy Vibe photograph from Portmeirion.

Yes, that’s sadly correct. A great shame, as the organisers were very enthusiastic and had put together a great programme of attractions for attendees. Sadly, it seems as though the North American fans did not appreciate all the hard work, time, and money that had gone into it, and registrations were very low, well below the minimum number needed to host the event. Very sad.

That is too bad. I wonder if fans were holding out to register late? Hopefully there can be another way for fans in the States to celebrate together sometime. What are some of your favorite stories about The Prisoner filming in Portmeirion?

The Prisoner is undoubtedly a work of genius, and the crew must take a big part of the praise, as what they achieved at Portmeirion is astonishing, but I do love the little eccentricities which only come from having a knowledge of the filming, and having read interviews with the crew. Mickey O’Toole was a chargehand propsman for the shoot, and it’s fascinating to hear his tales of Rover being pulled along with a fishing wire, people hiding behind doors and pulling them open to make them appear automatic, and sellotaping safety pins on to the back of the villager badges. On screen, it all looks seemless and futuristic, but in reality it was, despite the care and expertise, a little haphazard at times – and this fascinates me, as it does not come across on screen like that at all.

The crew were often asked to get involved with things which were clearly not their ‘brief’, and I think my favourite three are 3rd assistant director Seamus Byrne ending up playing the part of Rover’s first victim, crew member Roy Cannon asked to keep still as the dead body in freezing cold water in ‘Dance of the Dead’, and 2nd assistant director John O’Connor popping up in every episode in some sort of role- the amount of scenes in which he pops up in those early location-heavy episodes is astonishing!


Every time I visit Portmeirion I feel strangely at home and I always discover new things. So many hidden treasures for the active observer and a playground for the imagination. It's no wonder Brian Epstein, George Martin, George Harrison, and Jools Holland enjoyed staying there. What do you find fascinating about the place? Above: Spy Vibe photograph from Portmeirion.

As I said earlier, I think, like the series, it just has a certain magic. My favourite time of day is twilight, one can sit at almost any village vista and forget, for a moment, where one is. Not many places have the ability to do that. It has a certain ambience that I have never felt anywhere else. Rather like The Prisoner, I am also fascinated by the history of the place, and if I ever had a time machine I’d love to visit the village in times gone past. Nowadays, people on the internet are quick to criticise any changes that happen at the place, but people are too quick to forget that the village was constantly evolving. Take the piazza for example, such an important part of the village, and of The Prisoner, yet at the start of 1966, the year the series’ filming began, the piazza was a tennis court. Oh how social media would have been outraged when they placed a pond on top of the court!

That's a good point! I think that very evolution adds a bit of mystery or puzzle-work when one visits, which is fun! When I first went there, I enjoyed trying to figure out how the area around the hotel, pool, and the helipad in the series might have been altered over time. As much as I love The Avengers, Gerry Anderson, and Bond, I would say The Prisoner is the one series that seems forever relevant in conversations about society, liberty, consumerism, and individuality. What are the elements in the show that make it timeless for you?

I think you’re spot on with your question. The series is unlike any other, as it can be watched on more than one level. On one hand, if one chooses to (or doesn’t have the capacity to think beyond) it can be watched as a fairly ordinary ‘how will he escape?’ spy thriller. But what makes it special, is that there is an allegorical conundrum waiting should we choose to delve a little deeper. The village is all around us, and if one watches The Prisoner in 1967, 1977, or 2017 one can learn so much about society, and about ourselves. No other television series before or since has managed to achieve that.

Hear! Hear! Now seems like a perfect time to remind all those James Bond fans among Spy Vibers to make sure to check out The Prisoner. I've found that many in that particular fan group have yet to have seen an episode. Now let’s bring Alan Hayes (designer of The Prisoner: An Essential Guide) into the conversation. Alan, please tell us a bit about your design background, as well as Hidden Tiger Books. BelowSpy Vibe photograph from Portmeirion.


I’ve been working in design, to some degree, since the 1980s, starting from humble beginnings designing my own Doctor Who fanzines. By the mid-80s I was working in education in a school’s design and print department, and have been print designer (and sometimes author) for Hidden Tiger since 2011 and print designer for theatre group Dyad Productions since 2016 working on their Edinburgh Fringe and touring productions including The Time Machine, which debuts this August. My work with Quoit Media has commenced this year, starting with print design for the Everyman audiobook and continuing with The Prisoner: The Essential Guide.

How was your process designing the new Prisoner Guide? 

First and foremost, it was a labour of love for me. I adore The Prisoner and have worked with its author Rick Davy on prior projects (and as yet undisclosed ones!), so I knew that this was something that would be a pleasure to do. Rick knows his stuff when it comes to The Prisoner, and just as importantly, he had a strong idea of what he wanted with the book and how he wanted it to look. It’s always easier working to a strong design brief, which is what I got from Rick. Of course, I brought my own ideas to the party and between us we settled on an overall look for the book, while coming up with some ideas to keep the book visually interesting throughout – and there are some nice surprises in there, some very rare photos, which I’d never seen before.

What was the right Prisoner vibe for the look of the book? Did you narrow down iterations to arrive at the right balance of elements?

Obviously, both Rick and I wanted the look of the book to be recognisably related to the series, and we hope that readers agree that we have achieved it. However, I like to keep layouts clean and uncluttered, so that the important elements are not overpowered by over design. As with any design project, this one went through a transformation from its start to its end, with several versions whizzing back and forth between my office and Quoit Media HQ. I am delighted with the final product, which makes full use the glossy colour printing throughout. And of course Rick’s text was every bit as excellent as I expected it to be, and that shouldn’t be played down.


I can't wait to see the new Guide! Spy Vibers can order it here. I want the rare images to be a surprise for readers and so have included my photographs of Portmeirion here to help spark those imaginations. Rick and Alan, thank you both for talking to us more about this cool project. As always, I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future and to seeing you both during our periodical film-location adventures.

Related posts: Portmeirion Photography 1, Portmeirion Photography, The Prisoner London Flat, Interview: Police Surgeon, Alan Hayes Prisoner Audio Review, Interview: Ian Olgivy, Interview: Brian Gorman, Prisoner Supergrass, Prisoner XTC, Prisoner XTC 2, Prisoner DC Fontana, Interview: Avengers Two Against the Underworld, Umbrella Man: Patrick Macnee, Avengers Interview: Mike Richardson, Casino Royale Interview: Mike Richardson, The Saint Interview: Ian Dickerson, Avengers Interview: Rodney Marshall, Avengers Interview Rodney Marshall 2, John Buss Interview, Jaz Wiseman Interview, Farewell Steed, Maud Russell: Mottisfont Photography. Below: back cover of The Prisoner: The Essential Guide



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