Monday, 29 August 2016


DANGER MAN copyright relevant owner

In the first two series of DANGER MAN (which was broadcast under different names in different countries), JOHN DRAKE was an Irish-American working for an intelligence organization based in Washington DC in the USA.  After its initial run from 1960-'62, the show disappeared for a couple of years, until it was revived in 1964, with secret agent Drake now being of British nationality and working for a government department known as M9.

The show ended in 1968, and actor PATRICK McGOOHAN next popped up in The PRISONER.  McGoohan always denied that the Prisoner was John Drake, but this was doubtless prompted only by copyright issues, as there were several clues scattered through the 17 episode series that both characters were indeed the same man.

There were two Danger Man Annuals in 1966 & '67, plus a Television Story Book for 1965, but this one is all I have in my collection.  A few comic strips would've made it more interesting in my estimation, but it's a nice little reminder of the age in which it was published.  Maybe one day I'll acquire the others.

Coming in Part Three - The MAN From U.N.C.L.E. Annual 1967.  Don't dare miss it.

Interesting to see this scene from the JAMES BOND movie From
on the back of a DANGER MAN Annual 


Philip Crawley said...

Always a big Danger Man fan, I recall staying up to catch them at the late hour that they were shown here in Australia. Even bought the single of that great theme music. Of these days if I want my fix I just reach for the collected box set of DVDs. A local distributor of TV based sets did a great job with these, the spines making up his picture and several facsimile publicity booklets and brochures re-created. Never seen the annuals though - was there a 60s TV show that didn't have its own annual? If so then they would have to be in the minority.

Kid said...

I, too, liked Danger Man when I was a kid, PC, but I don't remember too much about the actual shows themselves. As for Annuals, was there a Prisoner Annual, Department S, The Baron, Man In A Suitcase? I can't remember seeing any, but I'd guess they were actually produced. Anyone know?

TC said...

Never saw any of those Annuals here in the US. Gold Key did two issues of a Danger Man (retitled, as was the TV show, "Secret Agent") comic, in a regular (32-page, soft cover) comic book format. They also did a Man From U.N.C.L.E. comic book series, and one issue of The Avengers (the front cover said "John Steed & Emma Peel," presumably to avoid confusion with Marvel's superhero comic).

In the first episode of The Prisoner, he meets another inmate (Paul Eddington), who was one of his colleagues in the British Secret Service. There was a rumor among fans that Eddington addresses McGoohan as "Drake." If so, the line must have been cut before broadcast. (I tend to doubt the rumor. McGoohan did not own Danger Man, so, even if Number Six was Drake, they wouldn't be that blatant about it.)

There was a Danger Man episode (IIRC, it was "The Conspirators") where villains with a helicopter chased Drake, but he didn't have that cool exploding briefcase and AR-7 rifle. That picture on the back cover definitely looks more like From Russia With Love.

In the original series, Drake seemed to be American (in "The Sanctuary" it was mentioned that he was of Irish descent), and worked for NATO, with an office in Washington DC. In the later series, he was British or Irish, and worked for MI6 (or "M9") with HQ in London. In "The Galloping Major," he was said to be Irish, but he was on a mission at the time, and that might have been part of his cover.

The 1960-62 series opened with voice-over narration: "Every government has its secret service branch. America, CIA. France, Deuxieme Bureau. England, MI5. NATO also has its own. A messy job? Well, that's when they call on me, or someone like me. Oh, yes. My name's Drake. John Drake." (Sometimes, the intro left out the line about NATO.)

In 1962, the world's most famous secret agent (now there's an oxymoron if ever there was one) introduced himself; "Bond. James Bond."

But the Saint often introduced himself at the beginning of an episode, "Templar. Simon Templar." And that series started at about the same time as the Bond movies, before the line became an iconic catch phrase. So I'm probably making too much out of a natural similarity.

I've heard that McGoohan was offered the role of Bond and turned it down. One story was that he had worked with director Terence Young before, and they did not get on well. Another was that McGoohan disapproved of the casual sex and violence in the Bond series. Drake seldom used a gun or killed villains, and he did not have illicit love affairs.

Kid said...

I'm often skeptical about some actor's claims to have been offered the role of Bond and the reasons why they supposedly turned it down, TC, but it's possible that McGoohan was considered for the part - in the same way that other actors were. (Y'know, Saltzman and Broccoli sitting about their office, saying "What about...?", but being dismissed almost immediately.) And for someone who supposedly didn't like guns, No. 6 seemed to have no problem using a sub-machine gun in the last episode.

If I remember correctly, there's a character in The Lady Who Was Death episode (one of No. 6's contacts), who had the same name and was played by the same actor as in an episode of Danger Man. (May even have appeared more than once, I'm not sure.) Also, the photo used in the credits of The Prisoner is the same one as was used for the character of Drake in Danger man.

I believe that in the first two series of Danger Man, Drake's accent was American (sort of), but in the revived series, his accent is definitely British.

In my mind, I consider Drake and No. 6 to be the same person. I think that most people who remember Danger Man think the same. What about you, TC?

Phil S said...

Danger Man got amour no reruns so I don't recall seeing it at all. Unlike the Avengers or Man from uncle. Even the Prisoner for re run more.

Philip Crawley said...

Now that you mention it there were quite a few without annuals, at least I've not seen them either. So many did have them that to me it seemed the norm for series at that time. Only seeing what material filtered out here to the colonies it was hard to tell how many annuals were produced. Some series did seem more annual-worthy than others. All of the Anderson series and many SF and Fantasy shows were well-suited.

TC said...

Yet another rumor is that the story-within-a-story in The Lady Who Was Death was an unfilmed script from Danger Man. But I'm skeptical. As I recall, Danger Man/Secret Agent was relatively realistic, and did not go in for the "secret agent superhero saves the world from the mad scientist"-type plots. That episode looked to me like it was a spoof of James Bond, and maybe also of the Bond imitators (UNCLE, Wild Wild West, Matt Helm, etc.).

But then, what I mainly remember about that episode is Justine Lord.

My guess would be that Number Six was intended to be Drake, but McGoohan could not openly admit it, because of the copyright or trademark issue.

Maybe Drake, Number Six, and "Mr. Jones" in Ice Station Zebra were all the same agent? Anyway, it's fun to speculate.

Kid said...

Never saw Danger man, Phil? You'll have to track down an episode on YouTube and see what you think of it.


My memory's not what it was, PC, so maybe I'm just not remembering some Annuals. Nowadays, I very often find I have to see (or hear of) something again before I recall it.


It was certainly a spoof, TC, but I think it was also (as you allude) a spoof of Danger Man, as well as the other TV shows and films you mention. I first saw that episode when it was first broadcast in the '60s, and when it was repeated (for the first time I think) around the mid-'70s, I remembered it exactly. The scene where he's in the bar and sees a message, bit-by-bit, at the bottom of his glass, which he has to drain in order to read the complete message (You have just been poisoned) always stuck in my mind. As did him immediately downing a selection of drinks before rushing into the Gents to be sick.

TC said...

Last time I looked, a lot of Danger Man episodes were on YouTube, both the half hour and full hour ones, and the quality was very good.

There are also DVD sets. I believe there is one with the half-hour shows, called something like "Danger Man-the Original Series," one with the hour shows (it may be called "Secret Agent," with the Johnny Rivers theme song from the American version), and the A&E "Secret Agent aka Danger Man mega set," with all episodes from both versions.

I remember "Secret Agent" being shown on an American TV network (IIRC, CBS) sometime around 1964-65. And I remember it in syndicated reruns in the 1970's and 1980's. Of course, with the syndication market, distribution can be spotty, so maybe it just wasn't carried by any local stations in Phil's area. (Similarly, you will hear Americans talking about the Gerry Anderson shows: "I watched Thunderbirds, but Supercar was never broadcast in our city," or, "I remember Stingray, but I never saw UFO.")

The Prisoner aired on CBS in the late 1960's; I think it was a summer replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show, or some other series that was on a hiatus. I remember watching it in reruns in the 1970's, and I think it was on the same channel as The Saint, The Baron, Man In a Suitcase, and The Avengers, so maybe those shows were marketed together in the same rerun syndication package.

B Smith said...

I always wondered who did the artwork in these annuals - it looked so slapdash, I could only assume they had no money in the budget for a decent artist, so they just passed it to the work experience kid. They's have been better off with stills from the show.

The cover, of course, was great, but it's all about catching bees with honey, I suppose...

Kid said...

One of these days, TC, I'll acquire a boxed set of the shows. I've got one DVD, which has a Danger Man colour eoisode, or it may be a TV 'movie', wherein two episodes are edited together. Glad to hear you got to see a lot of those old British TV shoes - they had a charm all their own.


I believe it was usually Walter Howarth who did the World Distributors covers, BS, but I'm not sure about the insides. May have been the same artist, but he was a better painter than he was a comic strip artist. Some of the internal illos also look similar to the work of Mick Anglo, but I don't know if he was involved or not. Anyone know?

TC said...

The last two episodes, "Koroshi" and "Shinda Shima," were edited into a feature-length film and released under the title "Koroshi." I don't know offhand if it was ever shown in theaters, but it turned up on TV fairly often here in the States.

A Baron two-part episode, "Storm Warning" and "The Island," also got edited into a movie, entitled "Mystery Island" or maybe "Danger Island." There was also a two-parter with Steve Forrest in a dual role as Mannering and a bad guy impersonating him, and that may have also been edited into a movie.

Some two-part Man From UNCLE episodes were also edited into feature films, and I think they were released theatrically in Europe. Here, they got shown on late night TV.

Kid said...

I think that's the very one I've got, TC. Regarding, The U.N.C.L.E. 'movies' - there's three different versions of To Trap A Spy. Extra footage was shot for the theatrical release, and T.H.R.U.S.H. was redubbed as W.A.S.P. However, the TV version was called The Vulcan Affair, and sometimes it turns up in one of two versions, either with the original T.H.R.U.S.H. name, and sometimes the W.A.S.P. name. The extra footage was toned down and used in another episode later on, I believe.

Unknown said...

My own fanciful pet theory has always been that McGoohan was playing James Bond in the Prisoner TV series.

Having originally turned down the role because it compromised his own moral code, there was no getting away from the fact that Bond was THE secret agent. So having played John Drake to the hilt he earned Lew Grade's trust to go on to make TV's most expensive TV series (at the time) and in a seamless move John Drake metamorphosed into the nameless agent that is Bond.

No 6 continually shows a hesitancy to kill. He resigned as his licence to kill did not sit well with him any longer. The answer to each No 2's prime question is right under their nose and they never see it.

Kid said...

Fanciful but imaginative, CN. "I'm not a number..." - meaning "I'm not 007" (although he's responding to a question specifically directed to "No. 6", but we can ignore that for the mo) - yes, certainly imaginative and worthy of a Blue Peter badge. However, the clues in the show do point to it being Drake, and it's obvious that McGoohan's intention was for it to be Drake, so I'll have to stick with that idea. Nice theory 'though.

Unknown said...

Like the link between 7 and I'm not a number. Never thought of that before.

When he resigns having become unsettled maybe he's at sixes and sevens in his life.

Kid said...

Or maybe he felt 'trapped' by the job. So, ironically, he was a prisoner before he became THE Prisoner.

TC said...

Well, FWIW, the American version of Danger Man used Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" as its theme song, and there is a line, "They've given you a number, and taken away your name." Which is what literally happened to Number Six.

Kid said...

Nowadays it would probably be a barcode, TC. I like Mel Torme's version of the song, but I'm not sure that the tune fitted the mood of the show. I prefer 'Highwire'.

TC said...

IIRC, the extra To Trap A Spy footage was used in "The Four Steps Affair." At least, that is the episode with Luciana Paluzzi in it.

Kid said...

That's no doubt the one then, TC. They got their money's worth out of that footage, eh?

John Pitt said...

Very late to the party, but, in my mind, No.6 was always John Drake.
That "NO MEDALS FOR THE GENERAL PAGE" looks like it was taken right out of the first TV 21 annual to me!

Kid said...

Yeah, it's kinda got that look to it, JP - although it doesn't actually have a 'twin' in the TV21 book (as far as I recall).

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