Thursday, 29 September 2011
The Prisoner: Rejected Themes
Ron Grainer's theme for 'The Prisoner' is a classic, but it could have all been very different. Grainer's music was the third attempt at creating the right feel for the opening of the show, and even that required a major overhaul before being deemed suitable by perfectionist / control freak / egomaniac Patrick McGoohan.
First up was Robert Farnon. Farnon was a popular Canadian composer of 'light music', but his proposed theme sounded more like something from a Western (specifically, the theme to 'The Big Country') and failed to impress anyone, least of all Mr. McGoohan.
Wilfred Josephs was next up. Josephs was a prolific composer who wrote a number of classical works as well as themes for film and telly. Josephs' take was much more atmospheric and urgent but extremely busy and in search of a discernible tune. The composition didn't work as a theme tune, but later appeared as recurring incidental music with a better and slightly tidier arrangement.
Australian composer Ron Grainer proved more successful, of course, although his original conception was far gentler and slower. McGoohan apparently accompanied him to the recording studio and encouraged him to considerably ramp up the music into the loud, driving, unforgettable theme so familiar to fans of the series but, like most legends attached to the series, that's probably a load of rubbish - Grainer was a brilliant and experienced composer, after all - and McGoohan tended to take the credit for pretty much anything not nailed down, the crazy bastard.