The Prisoner Music Archive

by Larry Hall and Victor R. Volkman

Section One

The People Behind The Music

This section is dedicated to the talented musicians, technicians and artists who produced the music used directly in the Prisoner series.

An Interview with Albert Elms

by David Walters
(Excerpted from "Once Upon a Time", Issue #32)

When "Arrival'' was at the screen room stage, the main theme was yet to be decided on. All I had was the original theme by Bob Farnon, which I hasten to add was disliked intensely by Pat and the production team. At the time, though, it had not been totally rejected, and seeing as Farnon had been paid for the piece, I decided to use it. Although it made an eerie type sound, it needed what I fondly call "plonkety plonk'' music, which is often used for extra footage to use up screening time. This is usually the hero walking to his car or kissing the girlfriend or, in this case, McGoohan's walk around the Village.

I often (other series) based the incidental on the main theme, but for obvious reasons I couldn't use that this time. So, after watching the rough cuts, I got the feeling of a fantasy type theme, so I sat down at my piano and started "plonking.'' Now, I don't know why but I played the opening bars of "Pop Goes the Weasel,'' and that's it really. It was as simple as that!

Some episodes were easy to do, like the one where he comes back to London after making his escape on a raft. I got the feeling of Robinson Crusoe, hence my Hawaiian theme, or the fairground music in the episode where he's telling the spy story to some kids.

Others were bitches to do and Pat was so intense in selecting the incidentals. The Bizet episode, of which I conducted the music for the Bizet records No. 6 plays, when No. 6 tells the band leader to play, that was my sound track. The band at Portmeirion were miming!

Now then, you'll have to tell me about the ``Once Upon A Time'' one, it was a long time ago. (After a brief description of the storyline.) Ah, now that's the episode where Pat buggered about with the soundtrack. I had a brief from upstairs that this was the cliffhanger episode that would lead to series two. But little did I know that Pat and David had other plans! I was home one night, it must have been about three weeks after the completion of series one of "The Prisoner,'' when Pat rang and invited himself to dinner the following weekend.

He sat in that chair there and told me about his trouble with Markstein and others. He said ``It's all got out of hand, Berty. They want to make it into a Bond movie and if there's one thing is ain't, it's another 'Goldfinger.' I'm putting the bloody thing to sleep be- fore it gets up and bites back.''

I said, "Are you going to leave it there without any explanation?''

"If Lew lets me, yes I am,'' he replied.

"Bloody hell, Pat,'' I said; "They will do their nuts.''

"I know,'' he said and grinned at me.

After dinner, we sat in my lounge and talked about old times. He told me that if he had to do a last episode, he wanted me to MD it. I told him about my new contract on "The Champions,'' but I told him I could do both with a push.

It must have been another six weeks before I knew for sure that The Prisoner was not finished, and I stalled my job on "The Champions'' to complete "The Prisoner.'' Ironically, it was Bob Farnon who filled in for me by doing episode one of "The Champions.''

One episode of "The Champions,'' "The Night People,'' was even set in North Wales at a fictitious place called Porthgerwyn. It was not to copy "The Prisoner,'' just to add spice to the series, and you know what they say about imitation.

I knew Pat wanted "Once Upon A Time'' as the penultimate episode, but I didn't know he had messed about with it until it came on the screen. But it was the last episode that got my blood boiling. You ought to have seen the out-takes, miles of wasted film and nothing wrong with it except Pat didn't like it!

By this time, Pat was doing it all; I think he was afraid of leaving it to anyone else. He left notes for me telling me what music he wanted. He knew that even the people who hated the series would be watching.
He wanted to shock. Of course, what he did was make them angry. When I arrived at Elstree, the set was abuzz with "McGoohan and his bloody ego,'' and Dennis Spooner knew it would be a tough act to follow.

Patrick has been a family friend for many years. We worked together many times and he is Godfather to my son. He adores his wife and is a distant, deep-thinking man. I think that's why he lives out of the public eye; he prefers to spend his time with his family and why not?


From the late FIfties, until his death in 1981, Ron Grainer composed numerous film and television music scores. He was born in 1922 and emigrated to Britain from his native Australia. At first he had a rough time but eventually managed to obtain a job as a rehearsal pianist for the BBC. His first success was the atmospheric theme for the Maigret detective series. His work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop led to the famous Dr. Who theme, first heard in 1963. In 1961 he had provided the music over a short transport film called "Terminus". This was followed by the music for the film "A Kind of Loving", in 1962.

Grainer had worked on music for the BBC Panorama programme and by 1964 had composed the memorable "Steptoe and Son" theme. Further music was provided by him for the film "Nothing But The Best", also in 1964. The first time his name appeared on a commercial music disc seems to have been the 1962 flipside of a UK recording by The Eagles, called "March of the Eagles" on Pye #7N15473. However, several more orchestral releases would follow in later years, including his 1967 re-recorded up-beat pop version of the Prisoner Theme on RCA 1635.
Further television music included "Malice Aforethought", "Tales of the Unexpected", and others. Films comprised "To Sir With Love" (1967), "Lock Up Your Daughters" (1969), "In Search of Oregon" (1970), "The Omega Man" (1971), "Yellow Dog" (1973), and "I Don't Want to Be Born" (1975).

In 1978 the Ron Grainer Orchestra released "A Touch of Velvet, A Sting of Brass" which reached chart position 60 on 9th December, having been in the chart for seven weeks (catalogue Casino Classic CC5). The "Dr. Who" theme was re-worked by Mankind and released on Pinnacle (PIN 71) reaching chart position 25 on 25th November, being in the chart for 12 weeks.

At Utopia recording studios in London on Friday 6th October 1978, members of the Prisoner Appreciation Society, Six of One, met with Ron Grainer who supervised the engineering and remastering of his Prisoner opening and closing themes.

The then co-ordinator of Six Of One, Roger Goodman, had wanted to release some Prisoner music on a vinyl maxi-single and had managed to obtain a tape of the television version of the opening and closing credits (ie: with all the sound effects in place). He asked Ron Grainer to supervise the transfer of the two pieces to the record, meaning applying tone and equalisation adjustments between the source tape and acetate master, which he kindly did.

Ron Grainer was asked in 1979 about the various versions of The Prisoner theme and the similarity found within his music for the later score for the film "The Omega Man". He referred to being influenced by his own predilection for certain model sequences. He attended a Six of One convention a few months earlier, at the Thatched Barn Motel in Borehamwood, the exterior of which had doubled for The Prisoner's "local pub" in "The Girl Who Was Death" episode.

Ron Grainer's name is remembered for many pieces of incidental music. His talent, described by his former wife, was being able to create exactly the right music to match the atmosphere of a television series. There is no better example of this than The Prisoner. Listening to the title theme conjures up the fast-moving opening scenes of the programme, as well as providing a strong closing theme at the end of each episode.

Ron Grainer died on 21st February 1981, aged 57. His many and varied music scores will continue to be heard and regarded as classic film and television themes.


Carmen Miranda and "I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi"

This 1939 recording was chosen for "Fallout", and the title echoes the nightmarish "I - I - I - I" which accompanies the unmasking of Number One and it works surprisingly well as the Rover "nest" shrivels up. Still, it's a very odd thing to use, revealing either a warped sense of humour or a touch of the surrealistic excess which characterises this episode.

Carmen Miranda was born in 1909 in either Portugal or Brazil (accounts differ) and spent all her life as an entertainer. Her trademark was her extravagant stage costumes which featured a turban bedecked with what appeared to be the entire contents of a fruit store. This, coupled with her distinctive thick South American accent which not so much fractured but shattered any song she did in English, made her one of the most impersonated stars of the time.

The song "I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)" was recorded for the film "That Night In Rio" which still gets showings on TV today. The record was a smash hit but was only one of a great number of songs she released over the years. Carmen Miranda died of a heart attack in 1955, some twelve years before the Prisoner project started. She was an extrovert and unique performer with a great sense of humour and I'm sure she would have enjoyed the song being used in this way.

Here's "I-Yi-Yi" in RA format, the usual
comments about RA sound quality apply


McGoohan and The Beatles

Arguably the two finest British exports of 1967 were The Prisoner and the Beatles' famous "Sergeant Pepper" album. Of course, the two were in fact linked by the use of their 1967 anthem "All You Need Is Love" in "Fall Out". Patrick McGoohan spoke highly of the group, during the same year in a T.V. World magazine interview:

''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''.

Eric Mival, Music Editor on the Prisoner, recalled that the decision to use "All You Need Is Love" on the Fall Out soundtrack cost the princely sum of £48 (about $75 US). Commenting on the series generally, he says there was the feeling that new ground was being broken and that the principles by which McGoohan governed his life came through in the series.

Patrick Kilmer writes:

"The offer was made to McGoohan [to direct their movie] after the Beatles watched the last episode, in which they knew their song 'All You Need is Love' was being used. They were impressed with McGoohan's style, and with the debacle of self-directed Magical Mystery Tour fresh on their minds, they were looking for a director with whom they felt in sync but who would do a more professional job. Unfortunately, McGoohan had already made his decision to move out of the country, so nothing ever came of this missed opportunity; the Beatles lost interest in active movie-making and only put in a token cameo at the end of Yellow Submarine." (evidence for this appears in George Harrison's autobiography)

In relation to the Beatles, a curious similarity exists between the Beatle movie Help! (filmed in 1965) and The Girl Who was Death episode. Help! features a pair of number twos Leo McKern (Fallout) and Patrick Cargill (Hammer into Anvil) as the evil baddie and chief inspector respectively. The plot of Help! involves a mad scientist trying to take over the world and a mysterious beautiful girl who leads the heroes onward.


Edwin Astley - the one that got away

The theme for Patrick McGoohan's previous series "Danger Man" was written by Edwin Astley who also provided musical direction and a good proportion of the incidental music for both the 30 minute and 60 minute shows. Like Ron Grainer, he was a prolific composer and had contributed themes for many TV series including "Randall And Hopkirk", "The Champions" and "Department S".

Because so many of the "Danger Man" crew had transferred to "The Prisoner", and given his track record, it seems odd that Astley doesn't feature at all. In an article given to Vanessa M. Bergman of the "Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased) Appreciation Society" he explains why.

"I was approached by Patrick McGoohan to work on 'The Prisoner'. I went over to MGM a couple of times to see him but the trouble was he was so involved. He was on stage all the time and you'd get into conversation with him and then there'd be calls of 'Mr McGoohan, you're wanted on set' and he'd have to go."

"If you write music for any producer, he wants you to write the kind of music that he wants. I couldn't have any way of finding out what Pat wanted, although I was as near to him as anyone. I was very busy at the time on another series, so I just had to let it go. I was sorry really. It was a memorable series because it was so different. I had some ideas on it, but I wanted to find out what he wanted. It was very difficult to find out anything really, under those conditions."


The Four Lads and "Dem Bones"

Another addition to the list of musical oddities used in The Prisoner episode "Fallout" was a rendition of an old negro spiritual "Dem Bones" recorded by The Four Lads, a vocal group formed in Toronto, Canada around 1950. The lineup of the group has changed over the years and only one of the original members remain, but they are still active today and you could very easily book them to appear at your Prisoner get-together to sing "Dem Bones" just for you!

The Four Lads first-release LP's are extremely rare and a virgin copy of their 1960's album sells for more than $200. However, their music is re-released from time-to-time and it might be possible to find the track on a re-issue. The version of "Dem Bones" chosen for "Fallout" comes from a 1962 album called "Dixieland Doin's" which was a Kapp recording released on the London label in stereo, catalogue number SAH-R 6213. The distinctive instrumental backing comes from the "Swingin' Nine Minus Two" and the album was produced by Joe Shermon.

Coincidentally, another of the tracks on this album was called "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling", the same as a PRISONER episode. The song actually comes from the Gary Cooper film "High Noon" and both film and song were very big during what would have been Patrick McGoohan's formative years. The film was all about a man in a small community having to stand up alone against great danger on a point of principle - sounds familiar, doesn't it? The song lyrics include the line "Do not forsake me, oh my darling - on this our wedding day" and another one goes "For I must face the man who hates me". Obviously it was written and recorded a long time before The Prisoner but, remembering that the "Do Not Forsake Me" episode title was changed from "Face Unknown", one can speculate that perhaps the song title, lyrics and nature of the film inspired that change.

The Four Lads sang close harmony and capella and were much influenced by negro spirituals and gospel music. They produced an enormous number of very popular recordings. Formation of the original group took place in Toronto where all the members had been choirboys. Original members included James Arnold (first tenor) Connie Codarini (bass) Frank Busseri (baritone) Bernard Toorish (second tenor). They launched their professional career in 1950 singing in local clubs around Toronto.

In 1952 Columbia released their first hit, "The Mockingbird". Among their others were "Moments To Remember" and "No, Not Much" written by the songwriting team of Bob Allen and Al Stillman, who wrote Johnny Mathis's big hit "Chances Are". They received their first gold record in 1953 for "Istanbul." With Columbia Records The Four Lads produced 73 numbers. Their success story included the sale of some 50 million singles and albums to date.

Bernie Toorish (shortened to "Torish") is leader of the group, sings second tenor and does all the vocal arranging and orchestrating. As an eighth grader at St. Michael Choir School, he sang with the "Jordanaires", forerunner of The Four Lads, with the accent on church music. Early on, Bernie was greatly impressed by the Golden Gate Quartet, then famous in the United States for its Negro spirituals, and he sang many of its songs.

During its heyday, the Lads had fan clubs totaling 150,000 members. In Pittsburgh alone there were 20,000. But their popularity, which reached its zenith in 1957, began to decline as the pendulum swung to folk music and later rock.

After a number of changes in personnel, the group finally broke up, with Bernie joining Equitable as an insurance underwriter, a job he continues to hold today.

He reactivated the quartet after a 17-year hiatus (he calls it a sabbatical). Teamed with him to make up the latest edition of The Four Lads are Peter (Pete) Selvaggio of Lakewood, bass singer and one of the finest jazz pianists around; James (Jimmy) Murphy, high tenor, who lives in South Euclid; and Frank Albano, baritone, of Euclid, who plays the keyboard and handles the synthesizer.

The 1992 Four Lads: (clockwise from upper left) Jimmy Murphy, Frank Albano, Pete Selvaggio, Bernie Torish

Today the Four Lads continue their musical history bringing exciting and truly "golden" performances to receptive audiences on cruises, at conventions, night clubs, dinner theatres, concert halls and Nevada's hotel-casinos.

Here's "DEM BONES" in RA format, the usual
comments about RA sound quality apply

Thanks to Graham Briddon for details of the "Dixieland Doin's" album.



There are only three vocal music tracks used in The Prisoner, all of them in "Fallout" and The Beatles track "All You Need Is Love" was already a very well-known song when the decision was made to include it in the final episode. Eric Mival, music editor on The Prisoner, recalls, " Pat and I discussed using the Beatles song "All You Need Is Love". He was concerned that using it might date the series as music often does. I told him that I didn't think it would. Somehow, although both The Beatles and THE PRISONER are locked in a sixties time capsule, they still appear as relevant and stimulating as when they first went on the air ".

All You Need Is Love was performed during the BBC TV broadcast "Our World" on the 25th of June 1967. The performance was recorded and released as a single and this recording was also the one used during the final episode of The Prisoner.

However, despite appearances, only part of the performance was actually live. Most of the recording is actually a mixture of many previously recorded sessions and even some of the live vocals were re-done in the Abbey Road studios later. Of all the various takes, number 58 is the one used as the backing track for the live vocals during the BBC broadcast.

"Take 58 was the all important broadcast version....the Beatles play to their own pre-recorded rhythm track. Only the vocals, bass guitar, the lead guitar solo in the middle eight, drums and the orchestra were added live"

"Later in the night we overdubbed a snare drum roll by Ringo ... and John re-did some of his vocal"

"Funnily enough ... although John had added a new vocal, Ringo had added a drum roll, and we had done a new mix, few people realised the single was any different to the TV version of the song."

This re-doing of vocals seems to consist of just a double track of various parts of the song.

Lead vocal: John Lennon
Backing vocal: Paul McCartney, George Harrison

Harpsichord, banjo: John Lennon
Double-bass, bass guitar: Paul McCartney
Violin, lead guitar: George Harrison
2 drums, snare drum roll: Ringo Starr
Piano: George Martin
4 violins: Sidney Sax (leader), Patrick Halling, Eric Bowie, Jack Holmes
2 tenor saxophones: Rex Morris, Don Honeywill
2 trombones: Evan Watkins, Harry Spain
Accordion: Jack Emblow
2 trumpets: Stanley Woods, David Mason
Flügelhorn: Stanley Woods

Producer: George Martin
Director: (for BBC broadcast): Manfred Mann, Mike Vickers

Technicians on the various takes were :-
Engineers: Malcolm Addey and Geoff Emerick
2nd Engineers: Phil McDonald, Richard Lush and Martin Benge

The song was released as a single and included on "The Beatles 1967-1970 (The Blue Album)".
Initial release dates and subsequent reissues are as follows.

Single sleeve art All You Need Is Love/Baby You're A Rich Man
Written by
John Lennon & Paul McCartney

UK (S) - July 7, 1967 (Parlophone R 5620)
US (S) - July 17, 1967 (Capitol 5964)
US (S) - November 30, 1981 (Starline A-6300)
UK (S) - July 6, 1987 (Parlophone R 5620 and picture disc RP 5620) 20th Anniversary Commemorative Reissue.
UK (C S) - July 6, 1987 (Parlophone TCR 5620)
UK (CD S) - June 5, 1989 (EMI CD3R 5655)
US (CD S) - August 1989 (Capitol/Parlophone C3-44316-2)

The Beatles 1967-1970
(The Blue Album)

Release dates:
US (M & S Double LP) - April 2, 1973 (Apple SKBO 3404)
UK (M & S Double LP) - April 19, 1973 (Apple PCSP 718)
US (M & S Double LP) - August 1978 (Capitol SEBX-11843 Limited Edition blue vinyl discs)
UK (M & S Double LP) - September 30, 1978 (Parlophone PCSPR 718 on blue vinyl discs)
US (M & S Double CD) - October 5, 1993 (Apple CDP 7 97039 3)
UK (M & S Double CD) - September 20, 1993 (Apple CDP 7 97039 3)

Here's "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE" as a midi file with lyrics. It's Karaoke time!



Robert Farnon was born on the 24th July 1917 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Gifted with a prodigious musical talent, early in his life Farnon was accomplished on several instruments, and at the age of 11 was playing with the Toronto Junior Symphony Orchestra. In 1932 he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra where the musical director, Percy Faith, made him responsible for many of the choral arrangements. In 1941 Farnon's First Symphony was performed by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

At the start of World War II Farnon enlisted in the Canadian army and was sent to Europe as leader of the Canadian Band of the American Expeditionary Force. After the war, he remained in the UK, writing arrangements for popular bands such as those of Ted Heath and Geraldo. He formed and led a studio orchestra for a long-running BBC radio series and many of his light orchestral compositions became popular, most notably 'Jumping Bean', 'Portrait Of A Flirt', 'The Westminster Waltz' and 'The Colditz March'. His other important compositions have included 'Melody Fair', 'Peanut Polka', 'A La Claire Fontaine', 'Gateway To The West', 'Pictures In The Fire', 'A Star Is Born', 'Manhattan Playboy', Journey Into Melody', 'Lake Of The Woods', 'Derby Day', and 'State Occasion'.

In the late 40s and early 50s he wrote scores for several films such as I Live In Grosvenor Square (1946), Spring In Park Lane (1948), Maytime In Mayfair (1949), Lilacs In The Spring (1949), Captain Horatio Hornblower RN (1951), His Majesty O'Keefe (1953), Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), The Little Hut (1957), The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw (1958), The Road To Hong Kong (1962), The Truth About Spring (1965), Shalako (1968), Bear Island (1979), and A Man Called Intrepid (1980). In 1962, Farnon arranged and conducted for Frank Sinatra 's Great Songs From Great Britain, the first album the singer had recorded in the UK. Subsequently, he worked in television, composing several television themes for top-rated programmes such as Panorama, Armchair Theatre, Colditz, The Secret Army, and Kessler.

It was in this period that he was asked to contribute music for The Prisoner. As is documented elsewhere, he was asked to write the main theme but his efforts were rejected even though a full recording session took place for the theme variations (Opening titles, closing credits and so on). These recordings were never used but some of his ideas and motifs were later incorporated by Albert Elms into the incidental music score. Other Robert Farnon music is heard in the series in the form of library music from Chappells (see Archive section 2.1).

He continued to make occasional radio broadcasts and assemble orchestras for special concerts and recording dates. In 1996, Farnon received the Best Instrumental Arrangement Grammy Award for 'Lament', a track on his Tangence album with the famous trombonist J.J. Johnson. In the following year, Farnon's many admirers around the world, including the members of an extremely active British-based appreciation society, were celebrating his 80th birthday.