Videos: Earl Cameron On Cult TV Show

January 27, 2012

Bermuda acting legend Earl Cameron has starred in movies for more than six decades, ranging from the gritty Ealing Studios drama “Pool of London” [1951] to the political thriller “The Interpreter” [2005] in which he appeared alongside Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman,

But he also worked extensively in many British TV programmes of the 1960s and ’70s, including the espionage series “Dangerman” and “The Prisoner” — both starring Patrick McGoohan [he is pictured here in 2008 with British actress Jane Merrow who appeared with him in the "Prisoner" episode "The Schizoid Man].

“The Prisoner” was a 17-episode British television series first broadcast in 1967 and early 1968. Starring and co-created by actor/writer/director Mr. McGoohan, it combined spy fiction with elements of science fiction, political allegory and psychological drama.

The show was broadcast on the American CBS network in 1969 and has rarely been off the air since, running in syndication around the world.

Mr. McGoohan died in Los Angeles in 2009 at the age of 80 after a brief illness. Following “The Prisoner” he went on to star as King Edward I in Mel Gibson’s 1995 film “Braveheart” and received an Emmy for a guest-starring role Colombo in 1975.

Earl Cameron As “The Supervisor” In “The Prisoner” TV Show 

The series follows a British former secret agent who is held prisoner in the mysterious seaside Village [the Welsh resort town of Portmeiron] where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job.

Known as Number Six — the number assigned to him by Village overseer Number Two — the central character’s true name is never revealed and nor are his specific motives for leaving government service except for an overriding desire to guard his individuality.

Although sold as a thriller in the mould of Mr. McGoohan’s previous series, “Danger Man” [called "Secret Agent" in its US release], the show’s combination of 1960s countercultural themes and surreal setting had a far-reaching effect on science fiction/fantasy programming, and on popular culture in general.

“The Schizoid Man” episode of “The Prisoner” featured Mr. Cameron as the sinister Supervisor and British actress Jane Merrow as Alison. Both actors had appeared with Patrick McGoohan previously in “Danger Man” in various roles — Ms Merrow in three episodes and Earl Cameron in no less than five.’

Earl Cameron Talks About Working With Patrick McGoohan

In an extremely complex plot of bluff and double bluff, Number 2 brings a lookalike of Number 6, referred to as “Number 12″, to The Village.

The real Number 6 is subjected to aversion therapy to alter his tastes and instincts, and then drugged to wipe his memory of the treatment. When he awakes, he is treated as “Number 12″, while the lookalike assumes the role of Number 6. The real Number 6 is informed by Number 2 of the plan to break “Number 6″ [actually the imposter] by convincing him that he is not Number 6 at all.

The two engage in various challenges to prove which is the real Number 6, the aversion therapy resulting in the imposter behaving more like Number 6 than the real one does. The plot is unusual among the series, as it seems that Number 2′s plan is not designed to reveal why Number 6 resigned, but simply to make him accept his place in The Village, having consistently rejected the moniker “Number 6″ in the past.

In 2008 Mr. Cameron and “Schizoid Man” co-star Ms Merrow attended a Portmeirion convention of hundreds of “Prisoner” fans from around the world and gave long interviews about the cult show and its continuing pop cultural impact.

Born in Pembroke in 1917 and largely resident in Britain since the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, Mr. Cameron has returned to Bermuda regularly — most recently in 2010 when he paid a courtesy call on the Premier.

He was named a Commander of the British Empire [CBE] by the Queen in 2009.

Earl Cameron Appears In This Clip From A “Prisoner” DVD Documentary

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