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Danger Man (1960-67)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Danger Man (1960-67)
ITC for ITV tx. (London) 11/9/1960 - 26/2/1967
39 x 30 min, 39 x 60 min eps, black & white, 2 x 60 min colour
Created byRalph Smart
ProducersRalph Smart
 Sidney Cole
 Aida Young
Writers includeRalph Smart
 Brian Clemens

Cast: Patrick McGoohan (John Drake); Peter Madden (Admiral Hobbs); Richard Wattis (Hardy)

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The exploits of special agent John Drake

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Danger Man (ITV, 1960-67) presaged the 1960s spy boom, pre-dating James Bond's first big screen adventure, Dr No (d. Terence Young, 1962), by two years. But the difference between TV's John Drake, played by New York-born Irish actor Patrick McGoohan, and 007 couldn't be more marked. At McGoohan's insistence, Drake never got involved with women and generally avoided using guns. As a practicing Catholic, McGoohan felt explicit sexual content and excessive violence were unacceptable, a conviction that allegedly resulted in him turning down the part of James Bond.

These self-imposed restrictions helped create a hero that became hugely popular around the world, partly because his character was unavoidably counter to the traditional spy image of girls and guns. The morally complex NATO agent turned McGoohan into a star, although slick production values and tightly written scripts clearly contributed to the show's international success. For US audiences, the programme was more prosaically retitled Secret Agent, in the process robbing the series of part of its personality.

Danger Man first appeared as 30 minute episodes, and was created by Ralph Smart, who had previously produced The Invisible Man (ITV, 1958-59). The show's success saw it return in hour-long installments in 1964 and briefly venture into colour for a fourth season, but just two episodes were completed before McGoohan resigned from the role, claiming he was tired of being identified with Drake.

But McGoohan didn't entirely abandon the series. His next project, The Prisoner (ITV, 1967-68), was partly inspired by the Danger Man episode Colony Three (tx, 12/10/64), which featured a mysterious village behind the Iron Curtain from which no one returns. Whether the nameless British agent banished to a mystery location in The Prisoner is meant to be John Drake is not clear. McGoohan denied it, perhaps to avoid having to pay Smart a royalty for his character, but in the public's mind the link between the two shows was compelling.

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
1. The assignment (2:07)
2. The village (4:02)
3. Interrogation room (3:25)
4. Subterfuge (4:05)
Complete episode: 'Colony Three' (48:31)
Prisoner, The (1967-68)
Strange Report (1968-69)
Astley, Edwin (1922-1998)
Bird, Michael J. (1928-2001)
Cameron, Earl (1917- )
Clemens, Brian (1931-)
Cole, Sidney (1908-1998)
Frend, Charles (1909-1977)
Griffith, Kenneth (1921-2006)
John, Errol (1924-1988)
Kwouk, Burt (1930- )
McGoohan, Patrick (1928-2009)
Mitchell, Warren (1926-)
Reckord, Lloyd (1929)
Yates, Peter (1928-2011)
'60s Spies and Private Eyes