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92 EVERGREEN Autumn Danger Man was a hugely successful espionage drama which premiered in 1960 and introduced Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. Drake took on hazardous missions all over the world, initially for NATO and then the British Secret Service. The series was made by the Incorporated Television Company (ITC), led by Lew Grade. During the late ’50s ITC produced mostly historical swashbucklers, such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, aimed mainly at the international market, but they were also televised across ITV’s network. To boost sales to America, Grade commissioned writer and director Ralph Smart to develop ideas for a modern-day series with an international look to it. Smart intended to make a James Bond television series and had discussions with 007 creator Ian Fleming. When this failed to materialise, Smart, with the help of writer Ian Stuart Black, created John Drake and based him on Bond. Smart’s idea reflected Cold War tension, growth of mass communication, advances in technology, and burgeoning international travel. Drake was a solitary, globetrotting American NATO agent based in Washington. Initially the series was called “Lone Wolf”. By 1959, when Danger Man went into production, 31-year-old Patrick McGoohan had experienced theatrical success and appeared in a number of films. However, after reading the early scripts McGoohan, found the emphasis on sex and violence unacceptable for a television audience that would include millions of children. He insisted that this type

2017 EVERGREEN 93 of content was removed before he would commit to the series. Television executives were unhappy with his stance but McGoohan, a Catholic and the father of young daughters, refused to back down on principle. McGoohan’s own view of Drake was that he was in the heroic mould — like the classic Western hero; a good man with a strong sense of morality and fair play; who used his wits to outsmart opponents, but was tough and fought clean; who would only use a gun in a desperate situation. He appreciated attractive women and charmed them, but his job could not be hampered by romantic liaisons. Speaking in 1965 he said: “For young children watching Danger Man, I’d rather they saw a hero rather than an anti-hero.” The 25-minute format meant episodes of the new action series moved at a cracking pace, usually building up to a climactic fist fight. The important international feature of Danger Man was accomplished by editing together the production team’s location filming in the UK, dressed studio sets and library footage of foreign countries. Drake’s “Washington” office, seen in the opening title sequence, was actually located in London’s Marylebone Road. Danger Man’s first episode, “View from the Villa”, featured Drake in Italy investigating a murder and the disappearance of millions of dollars of gold bullion. The North Wales location of Portmeirion doubled for Patrick McGoohan starred as John Drake in Danger Man. an Italian village and McGoohan later chose it to be The Village for his enigmatic masterpiece The Prisoner. Drake’s contacts included Colonel Keller (Lionel Murton) in US Intelligence, and Hardy (Richard Wattis) from the British Secret Service. There was a stark contrast between Hardy and Drake; one a fussy, middle-aged Englishman who lived with his mother and the other a young, ingenious, self-reliant American. Filmed at MGM studios in Elstree the series was produced by Smart assisted by Aida Young — one of television’s first female producers. McGoohan, who was extremely interested in the production process, went on to direct three episodes. Despite successful sales around the world, Danger Man did not generate the expected level of interest from

Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
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