Will the Doctor be The Prisoner?

Well here’s an interesting tidbit of news:

Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston will star as Number Six in a television remake of the cult favorite series, “The Prisoner”. “The 1967 series, starring Patrick McGoohan as a former secret agent who was kidnapped and imprisoned in a mystery village, baffled millions of viewers around the world,” says the Times. “The new version, made by Granada for Sky One, will incorporate the paranoia, conspiracy theories and hi-tech action sequences of modern-day spy dramas 24 and Spooks. … Hollywood stars have also pitched for the role but discussions with Eccleston are at an advanced stage, according to production sources. However, the Welsh tourist ‘village’ of Portmeirion, where the original ATV show was filmed, will be replaced by a more exotic foreign location, probably outraging fans of the original. … Damien Timmer, executive producer of The Prisoner, said: ‘The series is like Pandora’s box; it’s the ultimate conspiracy thriller. Like 24, the new series will entrap you from the opening scene.’ Granada hopes the series will tap into the show’s cult following, while also appealing to younger viewers. It is expected to appear before a long-mooted Hollywood film remake, and Granada is expecting to sell the show internationally. McGoohan won a global fan base for the 17-episode series, which made regular use of his catchphrase: ‘I am not a number; I’m a free man.’ His nameless character — Number Six — was abducted after resigning from a top secret government position and relocated to a sinister village where nothing was as it seemed. However, Granada is promising a ‘radical reinvention’ and a plot that will make sense to viewers who watch the six-episode series.” Meanwhile, according to the Mirror, “Director of programmes Richard Woolfe promised a ‘thrilling reinvention’ of the drama about an ex-secret agent trapped in an isolated village. ‘If Doctor Who set the standard, The Prisoner raises the bar,’ he said. … ‘This project has been subject to an unprecedented level of attention, attracting an array of A-list actors and writers,’ said commissioning editor Elaine Pyke. The new series will be made by Granada from a script Bill Gallagher, writer of the award-winning series Clocking Off. ‘The Prisoner is like Pandora’s box – it’s the ultimate conspiracy thriller,’ said Damien Timmer, executive producer of the show. ‘Like 24, the new series will entrap you from the opening scene. We hope it will tap into this iconic show’s existing cult following, whilst creating a whole new generation of fans.'” Also reported at the Daily Record, The Stage, The Register, Zap2It and various other Internet news sites.

My eyes lit up when I read that report.

Unfortunately, since I first saw it, there have been subsequent reports denying that Eccleston will play Number Six; so it’s not clear who will end up starring in the proposed remake. Too bad. Eccleston would have been a good choice.

I really liked Christopher Eccleston’s take on the Doctor last year (thanks to my family in Detroit, I got regular videos recorded from Canadian television) and was sad to see him go after only one season. This year, I discovered BitTorrent, and have been watching the first few episodes of the second season, with David Tennant starring as the Doctor. He’s starting to grow on me, and perhaps I’ll do a brief review of the first few episodes in the near future. He kind of reminds me of a fusion of Tom Baker (the whimsy) and Peter Davision (the youth and seriousness), with a little bit of John Pertwee thrown in every now and then when he does some act of derring-do. And, as I discovered a couple of episodes ago, this Doctor likes Ian Dury and the Blockheads and even proposed to take Rose (his latest companion) back to 1979 to see a concert, as Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick played in the background. (In a typical Doctor fashion, he miscalculated by 100 years and ended up in 1879.) Heck, if I were that Doctor, that’s one way I’d use the TARDIS, except that I’d go back to 1977 or 1980 to see The Clash at the height of their creative powers or perhaps back to 1972 to see David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust or Led Zeppelin at the peak of their thunderous touring prowess.

But I digress, as I am often wont to do.

A remake of The Prisoner is an intriguing proposition. As much as I liked the show when I saw it on PBS some years ago, it was very much a product of the 1960’s. The producers are going to have to find a way to update it convincingly (and coherently) for the new century, or the result will be very curious, to say the least, and probably not in a good way. It was a truly bizarre series, not for everyone, but nonetheless quite entertaining in its own way. I’d certainly be interested in checking it out if it ever is indeed made.

If Eccleston is not the new Number Six, then who should get the role? There’s an online poll going on over that very question. So tell me: Whom would you cast as Number Six? And what about the other roles? And how would you update the series for 2006?