ITV’s Danger Man, Patrick McGoohan has died aged 80. He starred in many BBC and ITV programmes of the 1950s and 60s and went onto produce now cult classic, The Prisoner.
McGoohan was born in New York however his family returned to their native Ireland before he reached the age of one; seven years later they re-located again, this time across to Northern England.
Originally destined to become a priest; a stint working in a Sheffield theatre as stage manager changed all those plans. Launching his acting career in 1948 Patrick starred in nearly 300 productions for the Sheffield Repertory Theatre.
By the 1950s McGoohan had switched to London’s famous West End to tread the boards to much critical acclaim. Orson Welles was equally impressed and placed the young actor into one of his productions; which lead to the movie bosses noticing the rising star. A stint with the Rank Pictures Company saw numerous film roles follow however it wasn’t until Patrick switched from the big screen to small screen productions that he would reach world-wide fame.
One of his own personal favourite productions was the BBC 1959 drama, Ibsen’s Brand but it was to be ITV where most of his success would occur. Working for Lew Grade’s ITC company in 1960 he had his first big hit with Danger Man. A total of four successful series were made.
As John Drake – the lead role in the spy drama – McGoohan was catapulted into the public eye, something he wasn’t entirely keen on. He became notorious for wanting to keep himself to himself out of acting roles, some suggested almost to the point of being practically a recluse.
Despite his dislike of fame, he continued to make television hits – none bigger than The Prisoner. The show, which over forty years since it first aired, still has a hugely popular appreciation society in the UK and a loyal following of dedicated fans all around the world. Portemeirion where the exterior scenes were recorded continues to attract many visitors just for the show and a shop operates selling only memorabilia from The Prisoner.
However when The Prisoner first hit ITV screens back in the late 1960s many viewers were left baffled by the storyline. Accusations that the depth of the show was too philosophical for most ITV viewers was later backed up by the sheer number of calls to the network asking, after the final episode aired, “what was that all about?”
The series evolved around a secret agent, who was deemed to ‘know too much’ and so was held captive by the authorities. McGoohan produced the programme for ITC and in later also wrote a number of episodes under a fake name.
Seeking privacy, at the height of his success Patrick moved back to the USA with his family where he felt he could escape the glare of the public and lead a far more ‘normal’ life. Despite this he did later make a number of films and television programmes in the US. He reprised his role from The Prisoner for The Simpsons in 2000 as well as featuring in the Braveheart movie which brought him to a whole new generation of US fans.
McGoohan spent his final years in retirement, having suffered from ill health for quite some time. This poor health had forced Patrick to decline roles in both Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings movies. He lived in Los Angeles with his wife – who he met at Sheffield Rep – Joan Drummond McGoohan. They had been married for over 50 years.