Dance of the Dead (The Prisoner)

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"Dance of the Dead"
The Prisoner episode
Episode no. Episode 8
Directed by Don Chaffey[1]
Written by Anthony Skene[1]
Original air date 17 November 1967
Guest actors

Number Two - Mary Morris
Doctor - Duncan Macrae
Observer - Norma West[1]

Episode chronology
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List of The Prisoner episodes

"Dance of the Dead" is a television episode of the British science fiction-allegorical series, The Prisoner. It was first broadcast on 17 November 1967.

Plot summary[edit]

During another attempt to extract information from Number 6, he receives a call from Roland Walter Dutton, one of his former colleagues; although he is controlled, he resists and is suspicious of what is happening, Number 2 orders the plan to be abandoned.

Number 6 wakes up with no memory of the previous night's actions. He learns that a mysterious Carnival is to be held in the Village. He makes an attempt to escape that night, but is blocked by Rover on the beach. He spends the night on the beach and, upon awakening, discovers a dead man's body washed ashore. Using it as a buoy, he attempts to send out a message by sea. On that man's person is a radio. When Number 6 tries to reach a high point to listen to it, at first he gets only static and a muffled, seemingly foreign, language channel. Then suddenly there is a mysterious broadcast:

"Nowhere is there more beauty than here. Tonight, when the moon rises, the whole world will turn to silver. Do you understand? It is important that you understand.

"I have a message for you. You must listen. The appointment cannot be fulfilled. Other things must be done tonight. If our torment is to end, if liberty is to be restored, we must grasp the nettle, even though it makes our hands bleed. Only through pain can tomorrow be assured."

Hidden in the caves, Number 6 meets Dutton, who has been broken. Remembering his acquaintance with him, Number 6 refers to him by name. Dutton says he has told his captors all he knows, but they believe he is withholding further secrets, and they will soon be employing harsher methods to extract the information from him, destroying his mind in the process.

The Carnival becomes a costumed ball and dance in which everyone has an elaborate identity except Number 6, who is simply given his own tuxedo. He leaves the party to investigate and finds out that Dutton is to be executed. Later, he enters a morgue and finds the body floated out to sea has been discovered, and the corpse will be altered to resemble Number 6, so that the outside world will assume he has died at sea. The soiree ends, however, in a kangaroo court with Number 6 on trial for the possession of the radio. After arguments by prosecution and defense, Number 6 asks for Roland Walter Dutton to be called as a character witness. When Dutton is produced he is dressed in a Jester's costume, but is clearly a mindless vegetable. The trial ends with Number 6 being sentenced to death; he is pursued through the corridors of the town hall by enraged Villagers, but escapes into a back room, where he finds a machine that is possibly a communication between the village and Number 1. There Number 2 informs him that "they don't know you're already dead". Number 6 swears that he'll never give in to the Village. In the final line of the episode Number 2 wryly observes, "Then how very uncomfortable for you, old chap!"

Additional guest cast[edit]


  • Although aired originally as episode 8, many sources recommend viewing this as episode 2.
  • The music box theme heard throughout is a piece of stock music originally composed by Robert Farnon entitled "Drumdramatics No. 2". It was prominently used as the original melody for Josette du Pres' music box in the classic gothic soap Dark Shadows. It first appeared in episode 236, first broadcast on 22nd May 1967, some 6 months before "Dance of the Dead" episode aired.
  • Although this is not the only episode in which a female Number Two is seen, it is the only one in which her voice is heard in the opening dialogue. It is the only instance where the fact that Number Two is a female is not revealed until the climax of the episode.
  • The small transistor radio that Number 6 listens to is a Juliette brand 7 transistor model.[2]



  1. ^ a b c episode credits
  2. ^ Juliette 7 Transistor Radio


External links[edit]