"The Chimes of Big Ben" is an episode of the 1967-68 British science fiction-allegorical series, The Prisoner. It originally aired in the UK on ITV on 6 October 1967 and was first broadcast in the United States on CBS on 8 June 1968.

The episode starred Patrick McGoohan in the character of Number 6 and introduced perhaps the most popular of the many characters who would bear the title of "Number 2" in the series, that of Leo McKern. McKern's Number 2 would return for the last two episodes of the series.

Plot summary

The episode opens with the relentlessly cheerful voice of the radio announcer encouraging every Villager to participate in an upcoming crafts show. Number Six is playing chess near the beach when Number 2 joins him. During their conversation, a helicopter lands and an unconscious woman is taken out on a stretcher.

Later, Number 6 is invited to The Green Dome where he and Number 2 watch the woman wake up on the main viewing screen. Number 2 says that she is the new Number Eight and that she will be Number 6's new neighbour.

When Number 6 returns to his cottage, Number Eight emerges, confused, and asks for directions to The Green Dome. When she returns later, she reveals to him that her name is Nadia, but she is suspicious that he is a Village spy. The day after, Nadia tries to escape by swimming out to sea but is brought back by Rover and interrogated in the hospital. In response, Number 6 makes a deal, agreeing to participate more in Village life — for instance, by entering the craft show — if this puts an end to her torture.

Number 6 and Nadia become closer and eventually plan to escape. She tells him that she knows the location of The Village: On the Baltic coast of Lithuania about 30 miles (48 km) from the Polish border.

At the craft show (where every entry except Number 6's is a depiction of Number 2 in some medium), Number 6 presents his work, a multi-piece abstract sculpture called "Escape". He is then awarded first prize and uses the "work units" he has won to purchase a tapestry, the entry of one of the other prize winners. At night, he and Nadia escape in his exhibit, which is really a carved boat, using the tapestry as a sail.

When they reach land, they meet Nadia's contact. Number 6 borrows the contact's watch since his own has stopped. Number 6 and Nadia then hide in a packing case as they travel to London. They end up in Number 6's old office and meet his former bosses. When they suspect him of being a double agent, Number 6 agrees to tell them why he resigned if Nadia is given protection.

However, as he is about to talk, Number 6 hears the familiar chimes of Big Ben. He looks at his watch and finds that it shows the same time — not the one hour's difference of the time in Poland. Realizing that he has been tricked, he begins a search of the office and discovers a tape recorder recreating the background sounds of London. He exits the building, finding himself back in The Village, with Nadia standing with Number 2 — thus revealing she was an operative all along.


  • The first letters of the name Cobb, the agent seen in "Arrival (1967 episode)", are the first letters of the title words. Chimes Of Big Ben.



Guest Stars


  • Angelo Muscat as The Butler
  • Kevin Stoney as Colonel J.
  • Christopher Benjamin as Number Two's Assistant
  • David Arlen as Karel
  • Peter Swanwick as Supervisor


  • Hilda Barry as No. 38
  • Jack Le-White as First Judge
  • John Maxim as Second Judge
  • Lucy Griffiths as Third Judge


  • Pauline Chamberlain as Villager
  • Vic Chapman as Orderly
  • Hugh Elton as Orderly
  • Fenella Fielding as The Announcer/Telephone Operator (voice only)
  • Aidan Harrington as Technician
  • Bill Hibbert as Assistant
  • Peter Madden as Undertaker (opening sequence)
  • George Markstein as Man Behind Desk (opening sequence)
  • Jim O'Brady as Drummer
  • Frederick Piper as Ex-Admiral
  • Frank Maher as stunt double (Patrick McGoohan)



  • Property master: Mickey O'Toole
  • Props: Charlie Parfitt
  • Fight choreographer: Frank Maher



  1. 1.0 1.1 episode credits

External links