If you don’ know this series then I am sorry because this was a big chuck of Childhood TV gold that’s still just as good watching today.
Started in 1987 Knightmare was a children’s game show that involved 4 kids taking on the dungeon, a virtual (cough: Bluescreen) world inspired by medieval fantasy. The premise was that a selected Dungeoneer among the four children would be sent into the Dungeon on a Quest to regain a valuable object and defeat the enemy of the Dungeon, along the way they’d have to solve puzzles and be guided along a path full of dangers. Fairly easy…..IF YOU COULD SEE!
The kid nominated as the Dungeoneer could not see his surroundings as his vision was covered by a helmet. (Of course, if he wasn’t wearing a helmet all he would see was a bluescreen anyway.) The other 3 kids would then have to guide him through the dungeon carefully and along the way solve puzzles, complete tasks and try not to get killed.
They would at times be advised and given hints by the Dungeon Master Treguard (Hugo Myatt) who sat in the background and presided over events. The Dungeon represented a world not quite like ours but one that took bits and pieces from ancient folklore and no doubt a few things from Tolkein too.
The start of the series was particularly difficult for contestants who had little idea what to expect with no prior episodes to guide them. Thus there were no winners during the first series but it did provide a guide to contestants who followed in series 2 and led to the first winning team. The format of the show slightly changed next series with the Dungeon Master, Treguard, taking on a friendlier role as adviser. Series 3 was, however, the series without mercy. No team won, some came close but death came quickly to all of them with many deaths involving a large fall.
Things changed a lot in the 4th series with the introduction of ‘Pickle’ an Elf (taken from the pages of Tolkien) and a change in the graphics with the new ‘Eye Shield’ showing the Dungeoneer’s progress through it’s…eye. We could now see outdoors too. I remember not liking the addition of the eye shield nor the dungeon becoming a more castle type place but I eventually got used to it as others did. There wasn’t much other meddling in the series beyond that until later…
The 5th series introduced Lord Fear in a minor role as the opposition. Not entirely as scary as Mogdred (Merlin’s alter Ego) from the earlier series but he certainly had a lot more character development and comedy elements included. He was the opposition of the Dungeon through it’s peak years. It was series 7 and 8 though when the series began to wane. It lacked a certain excitement of previous series. Pickle also disappeared and was replaced by Majida, a Genie whom was extremely frickin annoying. A wand was introduced to reach things and the Dungeon helmet was changed from that of a fabled viking style to ancient Rome which now allowed the Dungeoneer to see at certain times during the game. Way to screen up a concept…. As those of us that grew up with Knightmare went on to bigger boys schools the show got left behind. It ended on season 8 but it was and still is a show very fondly remembered by fans who watched it when it originally aired on CITV, the repeats on ‘Challenge TV’ (UK) and uploads to Youtube.
Since it ended it has briefly come back, first as a reformatted Pilot know as ‘Knightmare VR’ which never got off the ground and a one off special created for YouTube’s ‘Geek Week’ which saw the show thankfully return to it’s roots. Unfortunately the constants were too old to take the game seriously but it was fun.
I’d love to see ‘Knightmare’ come back to the screens again because it’s a show that hasn’t really aged. It’s still just as good re-watching it now as it was when I was a child. It still has me shouting at the screen and gets my blood racing. Maybe a future show could have a quest to find Treguard or take on a new foe the likes of Fear and Mogdred.
Favorite Quote: “Ooh Nasty!” Treguard