IT'S YOUR FUNERAL
"I AM NOT
SCREENPLAY Michael Cramoy
WATCHMAKER OR GENIUS?
Professor Seltzman (right) in "Do Not Forsake Me..." is played by German-British actor Hugo Schuster (1886 - 1976). Martin Miller (1899 - 1969), born as Johan Rudolph Müller), a Czech-Austrian actor, is the watchmaker in "It's Your
Funeral". Miller is cast under value and as a stereotype. However, he could be associated with the Seltzman character with regard to his biography or the role as someone presumably or actually of Jewish background. He'd be the proper scientist Prof. Seltzman. His likeness to one no less than Albert Einstein is striking. On the other hand, considering Einstein's scientific works in terms of space-time, his role the watchmaker does have its charm in its own right, doesn't it.
"I know everything about THE PRISONER. Ask me!" The annual PRISONER convention regularly sees an opening event where the time table for the weekend is introduced to the audience. People get to know about the guest of honour to be expected. It happens thereby that said guest makes a brief appearance saying "hello" to those attending. The convention of 2015 featuring Derren Nesbitt as the guest of honour was to follow that procedure too. It should have been that way.
Nesbitt himself had wanted to show up at the duly populated Hercules Hall. And there had been no reason to object to it. But once he had entered the podium Nesbitt, then 80 years of age, virtually took over control turning half of the convention opening event upside down.
ENTERTAINER DERREN NESBITT
LEFT: ALMOST LEFT SPEECHLESS - HOST DAVE BARRIE,
RIGHT: LINING UP WITH THE GERMAN GROUP
"I know everything about THE PRISONER. Ask me!" were among his very first statements. Exuberant as they were, no further questions were coming from the audience getting ever more amused, bit by bit. His vital performance wouldn't allow for space to ask. An entertainer who needs his audience, inexhaustible was his zest for life, inspired was his talkativeness. What followed was a summary of an actor's vita the way a stand-up comedian would do it. He'd remember his encounters with women in particular. One anecdote and yet another. It was hardly known, he told people, that he was to have been the permanent Number Two in the series. And that was it as far as information on his involvement with THE PRISONER and the episode "It's Your Funeral" is concerned. There's no way the truth of his claim can be verified. As we know the production headed into a different direction. But even if it isn't true - alright, forget it. There's nothing like a good tale.
Saturday and Sunday afternoon would see Nesbitt mostly roaming the Village, gladly accepting occasions for a chat once one arose. Another photo session together with the German group, more autographs? Yes, of course! So vehement was his activism that at times he had to be calmed down by the person in his attendance.
He had once been in Germany. "You know, I like German bratwurst." On rather informal talks like this, and with a twinkle of his eyes, he'd disclose that he never ever had a plan what the heck the series was all about or what exactly his role as the interim Number Two in this episode had been. But he'd always praise it.
Modelled: Nesbitt, with his distinct lower lip, saves the episode. Despite some badly overdubbed dialogue passages his performance as Number Six' opponent is remarkable not least because of the pair of goggles he is wearing, his insignia. It feels like he is putting them off and on again a hundred times. It's a bit like he's wielding a sceptre. He had his
DREIFACHER DERREN: IN NUMMER 6, MODELLIERT ALS PUPPENFIGUR ALAN TRACY, IN NATURA 2015
hair dyed for a film he was in, WHERE EAGLES DARE (USA 1968, directed by Brian G. Hutton). He played a peroxide blonde SS officer. "And", as David Stimpson, a British prisonerologist, writes, "(he) has the look of Alan Tracy, a THUNDERBIRDS puppet. Well that's not surprising, seeing as it's quite on the cards that THUNDERBIRDS' Alan Tracy was modelled on Derren Nesbitt."  THUNDERBIRDS, between 1964 and 1966, was a quite successful British puppet animation series with science-fiction elements, aiming at an adult audience.
Kosho, the trampoline jumping game aiming at throwing one's opponent into the water tank, receives more on-screen attention. After all, according to the Map of Your Village, but not in the series itself, there's a Palace of Fun in the Village. The first time the game features in "Hammer into Anvil". It had been McGoohan's invention for this very episode. Realistically put, it is hardly more than a dynamic, exotic eye-catcher. Strange too, barely one minute of footage was eventually used, while in "Funeral" it features almost four minutes. More than before it is but a filler while being even less relevant for the action.
Portmeirion is in it. Although the episode was shot primarily in the studio, with a number of really ugly looking studio mock-ups supposed to be Village outdoor locations, and with an artificial lawn curling under one's feet, there are also actual Portmeirion images which, at least, leave the impression of what we are watching is THE PRISONER series. This being one aspect about "It's Your Funeral" that lifts the episode well above two or three others still even more mediocre than this one. A lot of the footage was shot during the second production term in the early spring of 1967, with only little green around and the
summer-like impression of the Village, known from other episodes, gone. There are only few shots having to do with the action, it's a of stock footage not used anywhere else. This iconic image is one of them.
As the Anorak Zone rightly put is, there's an architectural gem like Portmeirion which is used as the location but at the same time cheap studio backdrops endangering the illusion because insufficient funding would not allow making more appropriate use of the Village. Hence attention is drawn to very poor props. [3 ] A quintessential issue.
But let's face facts, there are far weaker PRISONER episodes than this one.
[1 ] Roger Langley, "The People Behind THE PRISONER", in "Free For All" society magazine (publishing date unknown)
 David Stimpson, blog: http://david-stimpson.blogspot.com/2011/03/possibly-most-irritating-man-in-village.html
 "THE PRISONER is regarded as a well-made television series, shot on film and with high production values. Sadly, this doesn't always turn out to be the case, and by introducing The Village - an architectural landscape in Portmeirion, Wales - the series is forced to keep filming there, or risk corroding the illusion." http://www.anorakzone.com/prisonerrank1.html