Unique But Similar: The Prisoner Compared

Unique But Similar: The Prisoner Compared

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by Andrew K Shenton

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.

Cover illustration and design: Robert Hammond

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