It's Your Funeral

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"It's Your Funeral"
The Prisoner episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 11
Directed by Robert Asher
Written by Michael Cramoy
Original air date 8 December 1967
Guest actors

New Number Two - Derren Nesbitt
Watchmaker's Daughter - Annette Andre
Number One-Hundred - Mark Eden
Retiring Number Two - André van Gyseghem (no accent in on-screen credit)

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Hammer into Anvil"
Next →
"A Change of Mind"

"It's Your Funeral" is a television episode of the British science fiction-allegorical series, The Prisoner. It was first broadcast on 8 December 1967. In this episode, a young successor to Number 2 plots to assassinate the retiring Number 2 and ensure his own success.

Plot summary[edit]

Number 6 is awakened one morning by a young woman, Number 50, who tells him an assassination is being planned and asks him to help her prevent it. He does not believe her, thinking that she's working for Number 2, and it quickly becomes apparent that the scene is being monitored by Number 2. Later that day, Number 6 meets another prisoner who tells him about jammers, people within the Village who concoct false assassination plots, which Control is obliged to investigate. Number 6 is told that Control has a list of these people, and ignores their warnings.

The following morning, Number 2 has a meeting with the Computer Attendant and Number 100. The Computer has plotted Number 6's daily routine. When Number 2 learns that Number 6 will be attending his weekly kosho workout that morning, he realises everything is going to plan. No. 100 is sent to the gym and replaces Number 6's watch with an identical one, which is broken. Number 6 thinks his watch has stopped and takes it to the little watchmaker to be mended.

While the watchmaker is in the back room mending his watch, Number 6 notices a detonation device that can be operated by radio. The watchmaker returns with the mended watch, and as he leaves the shop, Number 6 meets Number 50 again and learns that she is the watchmaker's daughter. He also learns that the watchmaker is planning to assassinate Number 2.

Now believing the story, and realising that if the assassination is successful, the whole Village would be punished, Number 6 goes to inform Number 2 of the plot. However, unbeknown to him, their meeting is filmed as Number 2 tells him that the watchmaker is a jammer, and Control is not concerned about him, but he asks Number Six to find out how they intend to kill him, as it will give him a good laugh.

That evening, Number 6 and Number 50 return to the watchmaker's shop, where they discover the watchmaker is making a replica of the Great Seal of Office. They realise that this will be filled with explosives and detonated during the forthcoming Appreciation Day ceremony.

Number 6 returns to Number 2's house the following day, but he meets a different Number 2. This Number 2 is older and tells Number 6 that he is aware of the warning - in fact, Number 6 has warned every previous Number 2 that they are to be assassinated, and he is not concerned because he is about to retire. Number 6 is shown footage of him speaking to previous Number 2s, but Number 6 says the film is fake and that the plot is being mastered by his successor. Number 2 starts to believe Number 6 as his employers are not the sort of people who pay pensions.

On Appreciation Day, the watchmaker hides in the tower ready to detonate the bomb when the seal of office is placed around the retiring Number 2's neck. He is seen by his daughter and Number 6 who both race to the tower to stop him. Number 6 gets the detonator, but is confronted by Number 100, who tries to take it from him. While they are fighting, the seal of office is transferred to the distinctly nervous new Number 2. Number 6 then gives the old Number 2 the detonator, telling him that it is his passport out of the Village. He goes to the helicopter and leaves.

In the closing scenes of the episode, Number 6 congratulates the new Number 2, assuring him that something equally as suitable will be arranged when he retires.

Additional guest cast[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • In the scene in which The Prisoner visits Number Two to warn him of the assassination plot, Number Two's line "... it's the little watchmaker that concerns you", is dubbed over the original dialogue.
  • This is one of two episodes featuring a sport called "kosho" (the other is "Hammer into Anvil"). This was a fictional "martial art" devised for the series. It involves a contest between two helmeted combatants who spring at each other from two trampolines between which is a tank of water. The object is apparently to put one's opponent in the tank. (There is in fact a real martial art called "Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo".)
  • This episode contains more Number 2s than any other - not only can one see Andre Van Gyseghem's retiring Number 2 and the scheming Derren Nesbitt as his "heir presumptive", but two others - albeit given only a line each.
  • This episode refers to "jamming" and "jammers", i.e. constant hoax attempts to keep the authorities busy. The Situationist International referred to some of its activities as being like "radio jamming" in 1968, the year after the episode was aired. Negativland claims to have invented the phrase "culture/cultural jamming" in 1984 to describe billboard alteration. "It's your Funeral" is perhaps one of the earliest uses of the term jamming in a political context.
  • During the brief footage of the chess game, a Welsh flag (red dragon on green and white background) can be seen on the Village flagpole.

Production[edit]

According to the documentary Don't Knock Yourself Out, produced for the 2007 DVD reissue of The Prisoner in the UK (and included in the DVD/Blu-ray edition released in North America in October 2009), production of this episode was impacted by behind-the-scenes tension. Interviewed in the documentary, actors Annette Andre and Mark Eden both recall McGoohan and the director entering into a shouting match during filming (Andre strongly criticizes McGoohan for this behaviour). Eden recalls McGoohan losing control and nearly strangling him during a fight scene. Nesbitt, also interviewed for the programme, indicates that he was never given any information regarding what the yet-to-be-broadcast series was about, and thus played New Number Two in a state of confusion. Andre ends her comments by stating she did not enjoy her time on the program, while a crewmember expresses the belief that McGoohan, under creative pressure, experienced a nervous breakdown during filming of this episode.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Fairclough, Robert (ed.). The Prisoner: The Original Scripts. vol. 2. foreword by Roger Parkes. Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-903111-81-9. OCLC 61145235.  - script of episode

External links[edit]