Thursday 4 May 2023

Patrick McGoohan - A local legend - NOT A NUMBER - Book Review


I finally finished reading NOT A NUMBER by Rupert Booth yesterday, a book I've been savouring for a couple of weeks.
This is a biography of legendary actor/director Patrick McGoohan. 

When I was a child, McGoohan was possibly the biggest star in the UK, through his role as Dangerman, the No 1 TV series in the UK in the early 1960's. He was of special interest to me, as not only was he a legend, but he was a local. We would pass his house on the Ridgeway on the 240 bus to/from St Vincents school and see if we could catch a glimpse of him and his family. They had a Gipsy caravan in the back garden that was the source of much discussion. The rumour was that he slept in the caravan, as he was from Irish tinker stock. As St Vincents was predominantly Irish Catholic, this was not seen as a negative thing at all. In hindsight, it seems very unlikely as the house was a rather wonderful and not too austentations location. 

Another source of interest was that he was a mate of my Dad, at The Mill Hill Services club. Dad, being an Aussie, had a natural affinity with McGoohan, who was Irish. Both saw themselves somewhat as outsiders. They were snooker partners. Both larger than life men, with big personalities. Reading the biography, I learned they were also drinkers and prone to fits of temper, especially when in drink. Dad never spoke a bad word about McGoohan. 

I was intrigued to see if the book mentioned Mill Hill and the Services club. Sadly there were passing mentions of Mill Hill and none of the club, which was McGoohans drinking den of choice when at home. He got many locals into the film industry whilst living in the area, including former club chairman, Joe Gibson, who has told a stack of stories about McGoohan. I was far too young to be privvy to any of this.

The book has filled in many blanks. Dad had told me, in later life, that the stress of making the Prisoner pushed Paddy (ass he knew him) over the edge. Dad also mentioned that his role in Ice Station Zebra secured McGoohans finances as The Prisoner nearly destroyed them. For anyone who has an interest in UK TV, The Prisoner or Dangerman, this is essential reading. I hadn't known of how McGoohan rose through Sheffield rep, or his later association with Peter Faulk (Columbo). The book gives a real insight into a mythical figure from my past and Mill Hill's history. I would thoroughly recommend it.

It is published by Supernova Books -

1 comment:

Simon Ellinas said...

He features at Mill Hill East in my book "WHO'S FAMOUS AT YOUR STATION?"