Above: Patrick McGoohan, Sarah Lawson and local-extra Evan Heaven Jones on Location
First time I ever heard about actor Patrick McGoohan, who, by the way, recently died on January 13 aged 80
was from my grandmother. Do you recall him? He had starred in two British television series Danger Man and
The Prisoner back in the 1960s?
My grandmother lived by the waterfall, a place I loved of outstanding beauty, and as we know - one of our
seven wonders in Wales.
We lived at number 6, Maesydderwen in Llanrhaeadr –y-Mochnant at the time. Eventually our Grandparents
moved in next door to us. We, (that is, my Mum and Dad and my three brothers and one sister) did not have
TV so my grandparents used to let us watch theirs.
Back to Patrick McGoohan; he was born in America, in the district of New York on 19 March 1928, His family
was Irish. But they returned to Ireland when Patrick was an infant, and in 1938 they decided to move to
England settling in Sheffield.
McGoohan married actress Joan Drummond, in 1951 and they had three daughters. During this time he
appeared in various films such as The Dam Busters. But it was his spy film series Danger Man that ran more or
less from 1960 to 1966 that brought him fame. He played John Drake, British secret agent. This was rather like
James Bond with its modern gadgetries, and he was the highest paid British actor at that time. But unlike
modern actors he felt a moral obligation to his audience.
His next series The Prisoner (1967) was rather like Kafka, a man looking to be acquitted, but unlike Kafka could
not leave or escape. The setting for this series was filmed at Portmeirion Gwynedd Wales.
Ok!!! Hold on a moment, did I hear you say; so what has all this got to do with my grandparents? Well nothing
really. Only that Patrick McGoohan asked my grandfather Evan Heaven Jones (a farmer) to be an extra in one
of his Danger Man series A Time to Kill (released 18/09/1960) part of which-and here comes another
connection with my grandparents – was filmed at the Llanrhaeadr Waterfall. (McGoohan would not have liked
that term ‘extra’, because he even hated being called a celebrity or a star). Anyway, he asked my Granddad to
grow a long beard. He was playing one of the baddies, and his part was to shoot at the helicopter with his
It took several weeks for him to grow his beard. And there was still no sign of McGoohan and his crew showing
up. The beard began to itch. It annoyed my granddad and he thought they were never going to come back so
he said to my grandmother. ‘Missis’, he said. ‘I’m going to cut it all off. They have been pulling my leg.’ So he
cut it all off - and the following day McGoohan and his film crew turned up. My Granddad trembled in his
Many of you, who have watched The Danger Man series, would have noticed it was action packed. McGoohan
was, in real life, once a boxer, and very good one. But all was forgiven, even though, in the film, my granddad
looks as if he has two black eyes.
Local folks at this time were beginning to gossip, (though it was ‘unlike’ them in general) because McGoohan
had a lady friend with him, tall, slim and very beautiful. Some said, maybe she was a director; others thought it
was his fancy woman. But my Nana said they were only jealous, because he was ‘gentlemanly like’ and she
Sarah Lawson was perfectly charming.
They asked my granddad if he would like to continue acting since he had a natural talent for it. But he replied,
he would rather carry on farming. He had done it all his life. McGoohan said he would have liked to have done
the same, but he suffered from asthma since childhood. So he settled for acting. He, of course, went on to
make many other films afterwards and often did his own stunts, but that’s another story.