Monday, October 15, 2007


If we knew little about who Number Six, 'The Prisoner', was before he ended up in "The Village", we know even less about those men and women who were temporarily in charge of the community, "the new Number Twos". Years ago I wrote up an essay about the most famous of the Number Twos - played by Leo McKern in "Chimes Of Big Ben", "Once Upon A Time", and "Fallout". (And if you think you know the source of my theory, you're probably right - but you may be surprised at the actual connection I made.)

Now I've come up with a new backstory for the Number Two seen in "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling". (The working title for that episode was "Face Unknown", which I think better fits the tone of the other titles in the series.) And this backstory also wraps around to provide a 'fini' for the character as well......

Keith Longman was a scientific genius who made his fortune with his advancements in bio-engineering. His most personal project was in cryogenics, as he had a stake in the outcome - Keith Longman had a bad heart and he knew he would be dead before the 1970s were ushered in. And so he worked feverishly with a hand-picked team of technicians to build a cryogenics chamber in the basement of his mansion.

The super-powers of the Free World recognized Keith Longman's scientific genius and saw in him the perfect candidate to help them utilize the mind-exchange technology developed by Professor Jacob Seltzman. They wanted to track down the reclusive scientist so that they could force him to complete the process.

In January of 1968, Longman was installed as the new Number Two at a secret installation known as "The Village". This coastal community, which resembled the legendary Portmeirion, Wales, was used as a limited access residence for those hidden away by the super-powers of the Free World for one reason or another.

One such "prisoner" was known only as Number Six in The Village, although he had been NATO and MI6 agent John Drake in his previous life. Number Six was the reason Keith Longman was brought to The Village as Number Two. Six was reportedly the last person to see Professor Seltzman before he vanished. So Longman subjected Drake to the experimental mind-exchange and let him loose in London. Longman figured that with Drake's mind trapped in another man's body, he would go rushing to Seltzman's secret location, leading the powers who ran The Village straight to the scientist.

The ploy proved successful, but Professor Seltzman ultimately won out - not only did Number Six get his original body back, but the Professor himself gained a new body and was able to escape once again, disappearing for good.

The need for his services in The Village at an end, Keith Longman was returned to his former life where he was reunited with his daughters Vanessa and Stella. By this point in his life, Longman knew his heart condition was worsening and so he threw himself back into his cryogenics experiments, in hopes of perfecting the system before Death could claim him.

In the early autumn of 1968 (although it would be January of 1969 when the tale was seen on TV), Longman volunteered himself as the first human test subject before the process was perfected. But then, he had no choice - he suffered a major heart attack before they could test the system on his ideal test case, Simon Templar.

Longman's second-in-command on the project estimated that it might take twenty years to unthaw him, once the process to do so was perfected and if the heart transplant process was a successful certainty by then. That would have meant by 1989 or thenabouts; it's been about forty years on now, in Toobworld time. And it's my belief that Mr. Longman is still in his cryogenic freezer at his English estate, cared for by his now aged daughter Vanessa, if not by his other daughter, Stella.

And that's all the information... information... information... that I have.

'The Saint' - "The Man Who Gambled With Life"
'The Prisoner' - "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling"
'Danger Man'/'Secret Agent'

Toby OB

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