Many Happy Returns (The Prisoner)

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"Many Happy Returns"
The Prisoner episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 7
Directed by Patrick McGoohan using pseudonym Joseph Serf[1]
Written by Anthony Skene[1]
Original air date 10 November 1967
Guest actors

The Colonel (aka "James") - Donald Sinden
Thorpe - Patrick Cargill
Mrs. Butterworth - Georgina Cookson[1]

Episode chronology
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"The General"
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"Dance of the Dead"
List of The Prisoner episodes

"Many Happy Returns" is a television episode of the British science fiction-allegorical series, The Prisoner. It was first broadcast on 10 November 1967.

Additional guest cast[edit]

Plot summary[edit]

Number Six awakens to find The Village completely deserted. He takes numerous photos before assembling a raft and taking flight by sea for 25 days. He takes careful notes as to headings and times as best he can, but has an unfriendly encounter with gunrunners who are of no assistance. He escapes them and ends up on a deserted beach. Wandering, he encounters a small band of Gypsies who speak no English (therefore also no assistance). He eludes what appears to be a police manhunt and stows away on a truck which takes him to what he now recognizes as London. A Mrs. Butterworth now occupies his old townhouse and drives his Lotus 7. She is unperturbed when he approaches her, seems intrigued by his plight, and feeds and clothes him. He mentions that the next day is his birthday. Receiving Number Six's promises that he will return, Mrs. Butterworth says she might even bake him a birthday cake. He returns to the underground carpark/office where he presents himself to his old boss. His photo (and other) evidence of The Village meets with considerable skepticism. Former colleagues "The Colonel" and "Thorpe" are not entirely convinced that Number Six has not defected and now returned as a double agent, but after verifying all the details of his escape and evasion story, they seem to be more reassured. With the assistance of some military officers and a map, they determine the general vicinity of the Village ("Coast of Morocco, southwest of Portugal and Spain." "Might be an island".) He leads a jet fighter pilot in a sweep of the area and spots the Village from the air, but is unceremoniously ejected, parachutes in, and is greeted in his cottage by a new Number Two: Mrs. Butterworth. She offers him "Many happy returns!"...and a birthday cake.


This episode is unusual in that the entire first act, showing Number Six escaping from the Village and making his way to London, features no dialogue, save for some German spoken by the gunrunners on the boat Number Six finds himself aboard. Number Six himself says nothing until over twenty minutes into the episode.

The airfield used in this episode is the former RAF Chalgrove / Chalgrove Airfield in Oxfordshire, now privately owned by Martin Baker.

Although Number Two in this episode is female, the opening credits sequence features the unidentified, "generic" (male) Number Two, voiced by Robert Rietti that appears in several other episodes. This was presumably to keep Mrs. Butterworth's actual identity a surprise for the viewer.

The Number Two in this episode is the only one in the entire series to wear a "negative" style identity badge. Usually the badges worn by Number Two have a white background with a black penny-farthing bicycle design on them; Mrs. Butterworth's is reversed.

When Number Six sets out to board the fighter jet, he precedes the pilot. Unaware because of his advance, the pilots are switched and the pilot is no longer the companion of the Colonel, but is the driver of the milk float. Additionally, the Colonel is addressed as "Peter", a potential reference to the Colonel's name from Danger Man.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j episode credits


External links[edit]