Whether in The prisoner (or its equally accomplished predecessor, Danger Man), the late Patrick McGoohan is always impressive: stern, intelligent, sexually attractive to women, but always maintaining a monk-like celibacy (a by-product of the actor’s stern Catholicism). McGoohan, a maverick talent and prickly man who never quite achieved the Hollywood stardom that appeared to be his due (possibly because of his unbending moral code – the very code that made him turn down the libertine role of 007) still appeared – with distinction – in such films as Time to Kill and Braveheart. And while the enigmatic The Prisoner remains his magnum opus (as co-creator and actor), this brisk and effective series wears very well. Rupert Booth’s penetrating biography strikes just the right note; celebrating the actor/director’s remarkable talents, but not whitewashing his frequently unpleasant behaviour (often, Booth tells us, due as much to drink as to his puritanical, somewhat misogynistic attitude towards the actresses he was obliged to work with).

Not A Number: Patrick McGoohan: A Life is published by Supernova Books

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