George Harrison had an eclectic taste when it came to cinema which included popular hits as well as cult classics. He expressed admiration for a wide variety of projects, including Alejandro Jodorowsky’s critically acclaimed acid western El Topo which also received high praise from fellow Beatles member John Lennon.
Harrison was also a huge fan of Monty Python, so much so that many considered Monty Python’s Flying Circus to be Harrison’s favourite TV show of all time. In fact, he was such a huge advocate for their brand of comedy that he formed a production company in order to finance Monty Python’s Life of Brian which had a budget of about $4 million.
However, there was one particularly enigmatic sci-fi show that had a special place in Harrison’s heart. That show was none other than The Prisoner, a 1967 British classic which incorporated elements ranging from science fiction to spy thrillers while telling the story of an intelligence agent who is mysteriously abducted.
Musician Dhani Harrison, George’s son, formed his own band called ‘thenewno2’ which is actually a reference to The Prisoner. Dhani wanted the band to be an anonymous entity and did not want the name Harrison to be associated with it which is why he chose to name it after the show and he chose that particular reference because it was one of George Harrison’s favourite shows of all time.
When talking about the initially mixed reception of the show, creator Patrick McGoohan said: “I wanted to have controversy, argument, fights, discussions, people in anger waving first in my face saying, ‘How dare you? Why don’t you do more Secret Agents that we can understand?’ I was delighted with that reaction. I think it’s a very good one. That was the intention of the exercise.”
Elaborating on the challenges of making a unique show, he added: “One of the things that is frustrating about making a piece of entertainment is trying to make it appeal to everybody. I think this is fatal. I don’t think you can do that. It’s done a great deal, you know. We have our horror movies and we have our science-fiction things.”
Harrison had spoken about the influence of McGoohan publicly and he claimed that he was influenced by The Prisoner’s defiant stance against the deindividuation in modern society. The Beatles had also approached McGoohan for a potential screenplay because they were very impressed by the investigations of The Prisoner.