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Posted by Big Boo on September 23rd, 2009

knightmareKnightmare was a children’s TV game show aired on ITV from 1987 to 1994. As the name may suggest, it had a fantasy setting and involved a group of four adventurers going on a quest through Knightmare Castle, which was overseen by Treguard of Dunshelm (played brilliantly by Hugo Myatt). Treguard was basically the host of the show, who provided help and advice to the adventurers, although quite often the kids took little notice of him!

The setting may sound like an excuse for poorly made cardboard scenery and badly painted polystyrene rocks but the fact was that Knightmare was quite technically advanced for its time, making use of chromakey (or blue screen effects – for some reason blue was used back then, these days its green!) to superimpose computer generated background images behind the adventurers.

This may have looked good for the viewers, but obviously all the contestants on the show could see was a big blue room. This was solved by having just a single contestant wandering around the castle with a massive helmet on their head which stopped them from being able to see anything. The remaining three contestants sat watching their friend on a screen and could give them instructions on what to do, such as walk forward, turn left or pick up an item.

The adventurers had to solve puzzles to complete their quest, which involved such tasks as solving riddles posed by other characters in the castle, finding objects to solve problems or casting spells. Casting a spell involved, funnily enough, spelling! One team member shouted “Spellcasting” followed by the letters of the name of a spell which they had been taught earlier in the quest. This was fine so long as the kids could spell of course! Spells could also be disabled by shouting “Dispell” and normally spelling the name in reverse.

The adventurers also had a health gauge which was represented as a picture of a human head dressed in armour. As the health level of the player dropped pieces of the face would fly off, eventually leaving just a skull which meant the player would very soon expire, thus ending the quest.

Considering it was a kid’s show it was particularly difficult. Personally I only remember a handful of occasions when the game was actually won, but apparently eight teams over the course of the shows run managed the feat. For their efforts they were awarded a trophy which differed depending on which series they were on. Initially it was a plaque called the Silver Spurs of Squiredom, but medallions and a statue of a knight were later prizes.

By the fourth series of the show Treguard gained an assistant named Pickle (played by David Learner) who was an elf, and a little irritating to be honest as he just kept asking silly questions. He was brought in to ask leading questions in order to help guide the teams a little more, but they usually ignored Pickle more than they did Treguard! Pickle was eventually replaced by a princess genie called Majida (Jackie Sawiris) though I can’t say I remember her so had probably stopped watching by then.

I’ll leave you with a video of the shows opening sequence and also a link to the rather impressive fan site, which is absolutely huge and full of interesting stuff about Knightmare.