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 appearance(s)

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 Six is awakened one morning by a young woman, Number Fifty, 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 Two. Number Two monitors the scene. Later that day, Number Six meets another prisoner who tells him about jammers, people within the Village who concoct false assassination plots, which Control is obliged to investigate. Number Six is told that Control has a list of these people and ignores their warnings.

The following morning, Number Two has a meeting with the Computer Attendant (Number Eight) and Number 100. The Computer has plotted Number Six's daily routine. When Number Two learns that Number Six will be attending his weekly kosho workout that morning, he realises everything is going to plan. Number 100 is sent to the gym and replaces Number Six's watch with an identical one, which is broken. Number Six thinks his watch has stopped and takes it to the watchmaker (Number Fifty-four) to be mended.

While the watchmaker is in the back room mending his watch, Number Six notices a detonation device that can be operated by radio. As he leaves the shop, Number Six meets Number Fifty again and learns that she is the watchmaker's daughter. He also learns that the watchmaker is planning to assassinate Number Two. Number 100 assures Number Two that the watchmaker is thoroughly indoctrinated to want to assassinate Number Two.

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

That evening, Number Six and Number Fifty 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 Six returns to Number Two's house the following day, but he meets a different Number Two. This Number Two is older and tells Number Six that he is aware of the warning - in fact, Number Six has warned every previous Number Two that they are to be assassinated, and he is not concerned because he is about to retire. Number Six is shown footage of himself purportedly warning previous Number Twos, which has actually been cut together from the film of his meeting with the younger Number Two. Number Six says that the film is fake and that the plot is being mastered by his successor (the younger Number Two). The older Number Two starts to believe Number Six, as his employers are not the sort of people who pay pensions. The younger Number Two assures Number One that the assassination will proceed successfully.

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 Two's neck. He is seen by his daughter and Number Six, who both race to the tower to stop him. Number Six 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 Two. Number Six then gives the old Number Two 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 Six congratulates the new Number Two, assuring him that something equally suitable will be arranged when he retires.

Additional guest cast[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • The Computer Attendant, played by Wanda Ventham, is Number Eight. This number was also given to the character Nadia in a prior episode, The Chimes of Big Ben, and later to Alexis Kanner's character, alias "The Kid", in Living In Harmony.
  • Annette Andre's character is Number Fifty, although she is credited as "Watchmaker's Daughter", and the Watchmaker himself addresses her by her actual name, Monique.
  • 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. Number Six also says "Yes, jamming" in response to Number Two in the same scene without moving his lips.
  • This is the first of two episodes featuring a sport called "kosho", the other being "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".) Although "It's Your Funeral" was the eighth episode produced, and "Hammer Into Anvil" the twelfth, some of the kosho footage from the latter episode appears in this one, as despite the quick edits some shots of Number Six's opponent are clearly that of the character of Number Fourteen, played by Basil Hoskins.
  • This episode contains more Number 2s than any other - not only can one see André 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 programme, while a crewmember expresses his belief that McGoohan, under creative pressure, experienced a nervous breakdown during the 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]