Patrick McGoohan in <EM>The Prisoner</EM> Patrick McGoohan inĀ The Prisoner

If the words, "I am not a number, I am a free man!" make your heart all a-flutter, here's some happy news: Number 6 is coming back to TV in January ‘08. AMC, along with the U.K. companies Granada and Sky One, is reviving The Prisoner, the four-decade-old sci-fi cult favorite. "This is truly an iconic piece of television and will fit well side-by-side with the classic cinematic works of all time," Charlie Collier, the mostly movie network's executive vice president and general manager tells TV Guide.

For those whose familiarity with TV incarcerations begins with Oz, The Prisoner is a British series about a former government operative who is drugged and taken to a surreal seaside village where everyone is monitored 24/7, no one can leave, and most inhabitants wear vaguely naval outfits. The show's hero, called only Number 6, is under constant siege to reveal secrets to an unnamed interrogator — the ever-changing Number 2. "Not knowing who to trust, Number 6 is driven by the desperate need to discover the truth behind the Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly, how he can survive and escape to his previous life," says Collier. "There are so many elements that make The Prisoner relevant today," he adds. "The battle of the individual against the system, and on and on."

Patrick McGoohan created, starred in and sometimes wrote and directed the series, which ran in the States in 1968. (Only 17 episodes were made.) TV Guide hears that McGoohan and his family will be involved in the revival, and there could even be a role for the original star. As for the new Number 6, a casting search is underway, drawing "interest from around the globe," says Collier, who expects to start filming this spring.

Though the writing is in early stages — British TV scribe Bill Gallagher (Conviction, Clocking Off) is scripting — there will be some updating of a show that was reflective of its psychedelic era. (Think Beatles music, hallucinogens and no cell phones.) And although the original was filmed in the fondly remembered Welsh resort Portmeirion — now a tourist mecca — several new locations are being scouted, including Namibia and Queensland, Australia.

To make fans' delight complete, AMC is negotiating to run the original series, paired with "thematic programming" — probably films in the scienc-fiction or psychological-thriller genres — either in late night or on weekends. "We hold the original in high regard, and we plan to treat [the new show] with the respect it deserves," Collier promises. The AMC exec believes the intriguing series will have broad appeal despite its age, saying, "We've tapped into something enduring." Hey, we know The Prisoner's still cool. In 2000, The Simpsons served up a parody with McGoohan "reprising" Number 6. D'oh! The Village rocks.

For a bit more on The Prisoner's return, check out this TVGuide.com news story.

Send your comments on this feature to online_insider@tvguide.com