Dark Fantasies: The Prisoner and the Futures of Imprisonment

  • Marcus HarmesEmail author
  • Meredith Harmes
  • Barbara Harmes


ITC’s 1967 series The Prisoner is an enduring classic, yet surprisingly little attention has been given to the program as being about incarceration, and this chapter analyzes the program in penological terms, as a sustained meditation on incarceration beyond the conventional cell block and as an important forerunner of the atypical forms of imprisonment seen most recently in Black Mirror. Yet in its own time, The Prisoner was surrounded by a constellation of other surreal prisons. These prison oddities came at a watershed moment in criminal justice. In Britain, the death penalty had just been abolished leaving questions for the Home Office, prisons, and society about what to do with prisons and prisoners. The Prisoner would hardly provide information about actual prisons, but it did speak to anxieties then felt about the future directions of incarceration; its surrealism suggested alarmingly prescient ideas on surveillance, civil death, and confinement.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcus Harmes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Meredith Harmes
    • 1
  • Barbara Harmes
    • 1
  1. 1.Open Access CollegeUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

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