Danger Man

Missing image
One of a half-dozen North American DVD releases of the series. Patrick McGoohan as John Drake.

This article is about the 1960s TV series which was also known as Secret Agent and shouldn't be confused with the 1990s television series Secret Agent Man.

Danger Man was a British television show that aired between 1960 and 1966. It starred Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. The series was created by Ralph Smart (some sources erroneously credit McGoohan with creating it).


Program overview

The first season's episodes were 30 minutes in length and portrayed Drake as an Irish-American secret agent, possibly working for a secret arm of NATO, who often argued with his superiors about the ethics of his missions. The series was a major success in Europe, but was unsuccessful in syndication in the United States, so when American financing for a second season fell through, the show was cancelled. (This run of the series appears to be little-remembered, as even the recent A&E DVD release of the first season suggests, erroneously, that it never aired in the United States.)

After a hiatus, and in the wake of the popularity of the James Bond movies in the interim, Danger Man's creator, Ralph Smart, rethought the concept and with the second season (1964), the episodes ran a full hour and had a new theme tune, entitled "High Wire". Drake had mysteriously lost his American accent and was no longer in conflict with his bosses (at least, not at first). In the US the revived show was retitled Secret Agent for broadcast as a summer replacement on CBS and given a theme song, "Secret Agent Man," by Johnny Rivers, that became a smash hit. The series was also known as Destination Danger or, simply, John Drake in other parts of the world. During the first half of the second season, Drake answered to Hobbs (Peter Madden), a somewhat sinister superior always seen fiddling with a knife; this was the only time in the series that McGoohan had a regular co-star.

Unlike the James Bond films, which became increasingly fanciful as they became more popular, Danger Man strove for realism, attempting to dramatize believable Cold War tensions. In the retooled series, Drake was now an operative for M9, a fictional British intelligence department working under the cover of a travel agency. He found himself often in perilous situations which did not always have happy outcomes, and sometimes his duty forced him to make decisions that led to good people suffering unfair consequences. Drake never carried a gun, though he found himself in numerous fights, and what gadgets he used were never inordinately far-fetched. He also, unlike Bond, never got the girl. (McGoohan was notoriously conservative about sex and violence and refused to play any role that contradicted his views.) Although villains often met fatal ends in the series, Drake himself rarely killed anyone and in the entire run of the series only shot one person to death (this occurs in one of the last half-hour episodes from 1960). Despite this, a number of TV reference works such as The Encyclopedia of 20th-Century American Television by Ron Lackmann, claim that Danger Man was one of the most violent series ever produced, despite evidence to the contrary.

Season four consisted of only two episodes, "Shinda Shima" and "Koroshi", and these were the only two of the whole series to be shot in color. After these episodes were completed McGoohan suddenly announced that he was resigning from the series in order to create, produce and star in a new project called The Prisoner. Such was his power as a TV star at the time that he was not only allowed to cancel his own series, but many Danger Man crew members went on to the new series. The two colour episodes were aired in the UK as filler during a hiatus of The Prisoner a couple of years later, and were cut together and released as a made-for-TV feature film entitled Koroshi.

The Prisoner is a source of debate for fans of Danger Man, some of whom believe the show's protagonist Number 6 is actually John Drake. Number 6 is the number given to a secret agent who has mysteriously resigned from his job - just as McGoohan mysteriously resigned from his secret agent role. McGoohan has denied that Number 6 is Drake, although in the surrealist Prisoner episode "The Girl Who Was Death," we see Number 6 meeting with a character called Potter, who was one of Drake's contacts in Danger Man. This may have been a spoof to tease the fans, however the episode in question was originally written for Danger Man so the appearance of Potter might have been an unintended holdover. The fact that the first season of Danger Man included an episode entitled "The Prisoner" is considered a coincidence.

Danger Man has remained a part of pop culture consciousness. The band Tears for Fears referred to the character in their song "Swords and Knives," and goth musicians Dead Can Dance titled one of their songs "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" after a Danger Man episode. There also appears to be a quick reference made to the show in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date". On UK screens, it was parodied by the Danger Mouse cartoon series. The American theme song has appeared in countless movies and TV shows, including during the climax of the first Austin Powers movie. Most recently, Danger Man's influence could be felt in the American series Alias which, in January 2005, aired an episode entitled "Welcome to Liberty Village" which used a premise and major plot elements that were identical to the Danger Man episode "Colony Three". Also, although there is no similarity at all in plot or premise, the success of the BBC spy drama spooks (called MI-5 on U.S. TV) on both sides of the pond, a rarity in television today, harkens back to the days of Danger Man.

In 2000, the UPN network aired a short-lived spy series entitled Secret Agent Man. Due to the similarities in titles between this series and the American edition of Danger Man, Secret Agent Man, a series with no relationship to the McGoohan program, is often erroneously referred to as a spinoff or remake of Danger Man.

All four seasons of the series are now available on DVD in North America. The three seasons of hour-long episodes were released by A&E Home Video under the title Secret Agent a.k.a. Danger Man in order to acknowledge the American broadcast and syndication title. However the episodes retain their original Danger Man opening credits, the first time these have been seen in the U.S. The first season of half-hour episodes was issued by A&E sometime later as Danger Man; the DVD release erronously states that these episodes were never shown in the US.


Episodes were usually not aired in production order. Broadcast order varied widely between UK and US.

Season 1 (1960-1962)

Broadcast as Danger Man both in the UK and United States.

Episode # Original Air Date (UK) Episode Title
1-01 11 September1960 View from the Villa
1-02 18 September1960 Time to Kill
1-03 25 September1960 Josetta
1-04 2 October1960 The Blue Veil
1-05 9 October1960 The Lovers
1-06 16 October1960 The Girl in Pink Pajamas
1-07 23 October1960 Position of Trust
1-08 30 October1960 The Lonely Chair
1-09 6 November1960 The Sanctuary
1-10 13 November1960 An Affair of State
1-11 20 November1960 The Key
1-12 27 November1960 The Sisters
1-13 4 December1960 The Prisoner
1-14 11 December1960 The Traitor
1-15 18 December1960 Col. Rodriguez
1-16 1 January1961 The Island
1-17 8 January1961 Find and Return
1-18 15 January1961 The Girl who Liked G.I.s
1-19 22 January1961 Name, Date and Place
1-20 29 January1961 Vacation
1-21 5 February1961 The Conspirators
1-22 2 April1961 The Honeymooners
1-23 9 April1961 The Gallows Tree
1-24 16 April1961 The Relaxed Informer
1-25 23 April1961 The Brothers
1-26 30 April1961 The Journey Ends Halfway
1-27 7 May1961 Bury the Dead
1-28 14 May1961 Sabotage
1-29 21 May1961 The Contessa
1-30 28 May1961 The Leak
1-31 4 June1961 The Trap
1-32 11 June1961 The Actor
1-33 18 June1961 Hired Assassin
1-34 16 December1961 The Coyannis Story
1-35 23 December1961 Find and Destroy
1-36 30 December1961 Under the Lake
1-37 6 January1962 The Nurse
1-38 13 January1962 Dead Man Walks
1-39 20 January1962 Deadline

Although aired over the course of 18 months, these 39 episodes are considered one season.

Season 2 (1964-1965)

Seasons 2-3 were broadcast as Danger Man in the UK and Secret Agent in the US.

Episode # Original Air Date (UK) Episode Title
2-01 13 October1964 Yesterday's Enemies
2-02 20 October1964 The Professionals
2-03 27 October1964 Colony Three
2-04 3 November1964 The Galloping Major
2-05 10 November1964 Fair Exchange
2-06 17 November1964 Fish on the Hook
2-07 24 November1964 The Colonel's Daughter
2-08 1 December1964 Battle of the Cameras
2-09 8 December1964 No Marks for Servility
2-10 15 December1964 A Man to Be Trusted
2-11 22 December1964 Don't Nail Him Yet
2-12 29 December1964 A Date with Doris
2-13 5 January1965 That's Two of Us Sorry
2-14 12 January1965 Such Men are Dangerous
2-15 19 January1965 Whatever Happened to George Foster?
2-16 2 February1965 Room in the Basement
2-17 9 February1965 The Affair at Castelevara
2-18 19 February1965 The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove
2-19 23 February1965 It's Up to the Lady
2-20 2 March1965 Have a Glass of Wine
2-21 9 March1965 The Mirror's New
2-22 16 March1965 Parallel Lines Sometimes Meet

Season 3 (1965-1966)

Episode # Original Air Date (UK) Episode Title
3-01 23 September1965 You're Not in Any Trouble, Are You?
3-02 30 September1965 The Black Book
3-03 7 October1965 A Very Dangerous Game
3-04 14 October1965 Sting in the Tail
3-05 21 October1965 English Lady Takes Lodgers
3-06 28 October1965 Loyalty Always Pays
3-07 4 November1965 The Mercenaries
3-08 11 November1965 Judgement Day
3-09 18 November1965 The Outcast
3-10 2 December1965 Are You Going to be More Permanent?
3-11 9 December1965 To Our Best Friend
3-12 16 December1965 The Man on the Beach
3-13 23 December1965 Say it with Flowers
3-14 30 December1965 The Man Who Wouldn't Talk
3-15 6 January1966 Someone is Liable to Get Hurt
3-16 13 January1966 Dangerous Secret
3-17 20 January1966 I Can Only Offer You Sherry
3-18 27 January1966 The Hunting Party
3-19 10 March1966 Two Birds with One Bullet
3-20 17 March1966 I'm Afraid You Have the Wrong Number
3-21 24 March1966 The Man with the Foot
3-22 31 March1966 The Paper Chase
3-23 7 April1966 The Not-So-Jolly Roger

Season 4 (1968)

Episode # Original Air Date (UK) Episode Title
4-01 5 January1968 Koroshi
4-02 12 January1968 Shinda Shima

These two episodes were broadcast in the US as a single TV-movie, Koroshi. Originally scheduled to be broadcast in the fall of 1966 as part of a longer season, the show's abrupt cancellation, coupled with production and broadcast of The Prisoner, resulted in these final two shows not airing in Britain until after The Prisoner ended. Some parts of the UK, as well as the US, never saw the episodes in their original form until their DVD release.

Original novels and comic books

Missing image
First issue of the Gold Key Comics series.

Several original novels based upon Danger Man were published in the UK and US, the majority during 1965-66:

Several of the above novels were translated into French and published in France where the series was known as Destination Danger. One additional Destination Danger novel by John Long was published in French and not printed in the US or UK.

Although the debate over whether John Drake and Number 6 of The Prisoner are the same person has raged on for more than 35 years, the authors of two officially licensed books based upon the later series appear to be of the opinion that Drake and The Prisoner are the same man. The Prisoner by Thomas M. Disch (also published as I Am Not a Number!) and The Prisoner: Number Two by David McDaniel (a.k.a. Who is Number Two?) both identify the lead character as Drake. These books aren't considered canonical with the rest of The Prisoner series, however.

The adventures of John Drake have also been depicted in comic book form from time to time. In 1961, Dell Comics in the US published a one-shot Danger Man comic as part of its long-running Four Color series, based upon the first season format. In 1966, Gold Key Comics published two issues of a Secret Agent comic book based upon the series. In Britain, a single Danger Man comic book subtitled "Trouble in Turkey" appeared in the mid-1960s and a number of comic strip adventures appeared in hardcover annuals. French publishers also produced several issues of a Destination Danger comic book in the 1960s.

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