Patrick McGoohan's bewildering labour of love is the ultimate in cult TV.
After the huge success of the spy series Danger Man, its star, Patrick McGoohan, was given free rein to create a follow-up show. An enigmatic, thoughtful star - something of a moralist - he devised The Prisoner, along with series script editor George Markstein. Four decades later, viewers are still asking, "What does it all mean?"
In the TV series, McGoohan is the titular Prisoner, a former secret agent who is drugged and taken to The Village (in real life, the Welsh village of Portmeirion), where he is addressed only as Number Six. The 17 episodes (there is a dispute over the 'correct' running order, which only adds to the show's cult appeal) mainly concern Number Six's attempts to escape the village, discover the identity of his captors, or outwit Number Two. The series' infamously surreal finale - where the Prisoner finally discovers the identity of the all-powerful Number One, amongst other things - either explains the foregoing action or simply muddies the water, depending on your point of view. For its tearing up of the rulebook, challenging viewers, and positively celebrating loose ends and ambiguity, The Prisoner was evidently ahead of its time.
Repeat runs on Channel 4, BBC Four and other digital channels continue to bring in new 'converts', and the series continues to have an influence on many TV programmes to this day.