Ridley Scott is reportedly in early talks to bring a version of 1960’s cult TV series The Prisoner to the big screen. The project has been in development at Universal for a while now, and it has had interest from none other than Christopher Nolan back in 2009 (although nothing came of it). The original series centred around a secret government agent who is kidnapped by unknown assailants the moment he resigns; finding himself in an idyllic yet bizarre seaside village, he is known only by the moniker Number Six. Over the 17-episode one-season run, Number Six attempts escape, evades the balloon-like “Rover,” and keeps his secrets secret in order to stay alive.
The Prisoner is quintessentially British and of the 1960s. Set in the Cold War era, it is strong in paranoia and replete with psychedelia; it was developed by and starred the late, great Patrick McGoohan, who also wrote and directed some of the episodes. An instant cultural and cult hit, rabid fans have kept it alive with conventions and cosplay decades before such things became fashionable, and it’s legacy can be seen in everything from The X Files to Lost. A poorly-conceived and badly-received mini-series remake debuted in 2009 starring Jim Caviezel, and not even the presence of Ian Mckellen could redeem it.
So it seems right and proper, then, that a Brit director should take on this none-more-English classic. Nolan would have been a fascinating choice but Scott, buoyed by 2015 smash cinematic hit The Martian, seems to be really embracing the sci-fi genre once more, with no fewer than three Alien prequels on his slate (all of which he says he will direct), and producing duties on the Blade Runner sequel. It can be hoped that the 78-year-old finds the time and creative energy for this as well, for The Prisoner deserves another chance.