2 x No.2 = Fab4
I was watching the second Beatles film Help! yesterday, and it struck me that two No. 2’s from The Prisoner (Leo McKern and Patrick Cargill) star in it. The shot above is the only time they appear in the frame together though. That made me look into the many connections between The Beatles and Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan, who died in 2009, rose to fame with agent tv series Danger Man, turned down an offer to play James Bond, and created one of the best and most influential tv shows with The Prisoner. He was a fan of The Beatles, and used “All You Need Is Love” in the final Prisoner episode – the only time a Beatles song was ever licensed to a tv show.
I think The Beatles are marvellous. They are venturing into astonishing fields of music and are really searching in their embryonic ‘retirement’ to find new sounds. I am always listening to their latest work and get something new out of it each time I hear it. They epitomise the age. They parody all the things we grown-ups pay lip service to, but don’t practise. In one of their latest numbers they sing “All you Need Is Love” – just that, over and over again. Afterwards you realize that love is the thing that we have least of. They parody such ambiguities. (Patrick McGoohan, T.V. World, 1967)
The Beatles, or at least George Harrison, were fans of the Prisoner too. In fact they wanted McGoohan to direct their next film after The Magical Mystery Tour, but McGoohan who had had to finish The Prisoner off prematurely left the country and nothing came of it. Whether McGoohan, who was still playing John Drake in Danger Man when Help! was made, got any inspiration from that film is not clear.