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Number 6 From The Prisoner

Prisoner Number 6 at His Door
The Author As Prisoner Number 6 by the
Doorway to His Cottage in The Village

This costume usually takes some explaining because it is from the late 60s British cult TV show, The Prisoner, which a lot of people seem to have never heard. Of those who have heard of it, I've found that many haven't actually seen it. Basically it's a show about a secret agent who quits. He is then spirited away to a remote location simply called The Village where he is very subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) psychologically tortured by the apparent ruler of the Village who is called Number 2 to try and determine why he quit.

The look of the Village and the garb of the people who populate it is quite colorful and distinctive, although not completely fantastic. So I'll be the first to admit that this is a pretty simple costume to do - all it takes is money. (Or mad sewing skills. Which I do not have.)

The primary thing you need for it is the black Prisoner jacket with the white piping that Patrick McGoohan wore in the show in the 60s. On the plus side, a recreated jacket is available, directly from Portmeirion where the show was filmed in the 60s. On the minus side, they're the only ones who have the license to make it and they're in Wales. So you have to pay the exchange rate and shipping from the UK to get a jacket if you're in the states.

Prisoner Number 6 at His Window
The Author As Prisoner 6
At The Window of His

I did not want to pay this, so I went to Portmeirion and got myself one.

OK, in all fairness, that was not the only reason I went to Portmeirion. I had actually seen the place in an episode of Secret Agent Man, also starring McGoohan, and had liked the look of it. In December 2012, I received the entire Prisoner series for Christmas, so watched it through over the holiday break.

Fascinated by Portmeirion, I decided I wanted to go there and see the place for real. From what I had read, it hadn't changed much since the show was filmed. I had also been meaning to make a trip over to the UK to visit some of the friends I had made through pirate reenacting, so I made a plan to visit the UK in May, meeting some of my friends and staying for a few days at Portmeirion to see what was to be seen. (For an exhaustively detailed account of this trip, see my Pirate Surgeon's Journal webpage.)

Of course, I also wanted to buy a Prisoner jacket. In fact, in a move that surprised even me, I decided that I wanted to walk around the place dressed as the Prisoner. So I studied the show and began to research the costume. The tan pants were pretty easy and the belt was quite simple and inexpensive. The dark blue mock turtleneck took a bit of searching, but I found it without too much trouble.

Prisoner Number 6 and Tourists
The Author As Prisoner Number 6 With
Some American Tourists in Portmeirion

The shoes were a little trickier, although I eventually found Van's Chukka Low Profile Shoes matched pretty well. I got them from Zappos, which you can do as well, so long as that link works. (Mine are black. I'm told that the ones in the series were actually very dark blue, so if you can find those, your costume will be a bit more authentic than mine.)

This probably isn't cosplay in the truest sense, although I consider it to be one. I really wanted all the number 6 prisoner garb so that I could run around Portmerion dressed that way while I was staying there. (During my visit, I learned that I was not the first to do so... not by a long shot. They even have Number 6 conventions there where they reenact scenes.)

Portmeirion busses tourists into the village every day and, in true cosplay form, many of them asked me to stop and pose with them. I can't even remember how many such photos were taken. (Being a pirate reenactor, I am used to being asked to pose with folks for their vacation photos, so I was used to that.)

Some of the folks working at Portmeirion were also very helpful in directing me where and how to pose for iconic pictures. I don't know how iconic I actually look in the photos, but I do know I liked the look of them. You can see a few of my favorites in the photos below.

Prisoner Number 6 Pavillion
The Author As Prisoner 6 on the
Gloriette at Portmeririon

The Prisoner in Number 2's Chair
Author As Prisoner 6 in Number
2's Chair in the Prisoner Shop

Prisoner Number 6 at the Gothic Pavilion
The Author As Prisoner 6 At the Gothic
Pavilion (Site of the Chess Match)