Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Farewell Patrick McGoohan and Dai Llewellyn

We hear news today of the deaths of two characters, the loss of whom leaves the world slightly less colorful.

Firstly, Patrick McGoohan, who died at the age of 80 after a brief illness in Los Angeles. I first remember McGoohan in the British series Danger Man, known in the US as Secret Agent, but it was as "Number 6" in the cult TV series The Prisoner, for which he became most famous. Produced by McGoohan, who later contributed to the writing and directing of the series, and filmed in the Welsh village of Portmeirion, The Prisoner was thought to be "too philosophical and difficult" by many critics. The final episode, deliberately ambiguous, and containing a lengthy section completely without dialog, was considered so controversial that McGoohan and his family left Britain for the US and relative anonymity for more than 20 years. He continued to appear in movies, famously appearing as King Longshanks in Mel Gibson's Braveheart, but turned down many parts recently due to ill health. Here's a treat for those who have never seen The Prisoner, or those who dearly remember it, for whom this clip will bring back many memories:

Known primarily as a "Bon Viveur", Dai Llewellyn has also died aged 62. I find the contrast between the obits from British newspaper The Daily Telegraph and the BBC to be rather interesting, "The Torygraph" presenting rather a heroic story, while the Beeb seems to be less sympathetic somehow. Sir Dai (sometimes referred to as "Dirty Dai" by the tabloid press) was certainly notorious for chasing women, and for drinking a huge amount. Talking about his huge appetite for alcohol, he once said: "I do recall one particularly heavy night on my own when I consumed eight bottles of wine, one bottle of vodka, one bottle of rum and one bottle of port. People look unconvinced when I say this, but at 6am I was totally lucid." He became most well-known for revealing to the press his brother Roddy's affair with Princess Margaret.

Although aware that it was probably his own excesses that resulted in his recent ill-health, he nevertheless said that he had "no regrets" about the life he led.

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