Patrick McGoohan

He became a film and TV star, but Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009) always owed his success to Sheffield. The man known to millions as Number Six in the cult TV series The Prisoner (1967-1968) was born in New York, moving months later to his parents’ farm in Ireland. Seven years later the family relocated to Sheffield, living at Clarkehouse Road, on the edge of Broomhill, attending St. Vincent’s School in Solly Street. He was evacuated to Loughborough during World War Two, and later educated at Ratcliff College.

McGoohan left school at 16, returned to Sheffield, and became a stage manager at Sheffield Repertory theatre on Townhead Street in 1947. When an actor fell ill, McGoohan got his chance at acting. In 1955, he signed a contract with the Rank Organisation, but shot to fame in his role as NATO trouble-shooter John Drake in the sixty’s television series Danger Man. Until the end of his days, McGoohan would be best known for his role in The Prisoner – “I am not a number, I am a free man.” – about a former agent trapped inside a mysterious village, a role he reprised in a 2000 episode of The Simpsons.

In the seventies, he settled in the Pacific Palisades district of Los Angeles, and in an interview in 1983 remembered his days on stage at Sheffield Rep.

“It was the happiest time of my life. I met my wife in Sheffield and life was simpler then. I didn’t need a lawyer, an agent and business manager. I just went on stage and played big roles as well as small ones. The last time I was filming in England, which was The Man in the Iron Mask, we had a free day, so I hired a car and didn’t tell Joan where we were going. I parked the car and took her into the city centre and made for Wilson Peck’s music shop. When we were outside the shop, I made her close her eyes, turned her around and asked her to open her eyes again. I then told her we were standing on the very same manhole cover where I proposed to her all those years ago.”

McGoohan died in 2009 at Saint John’s Health Centre in Santa Monica, California, after a brief illness.