Knightmare

   

 

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The show featured teams of four children (around 1116 years old). On the call of "Enter, Stranger", the first member of the team (the "dungeoneer") would enter Knightmare Castle via an antechamber belonging to Treguard of Dunshelm After giving his or her name, the dungeoneer would be asked by Treguard to call their three advisors, who would magically appear next to the viewing apparatus beside them (though, in Series 8, all members of the team appeared at once). Before entering the dungeon, the dungeoneer would be given a knapsack to wear, in which they were to place food found along the way, in order to replenish Life Force. In addition, the "Helmet of Justice" was put on the dungeoneer's head, blocking their vision except for the area immediately around them. The story was that this was to protect the dungeoneer from seeing the real danger ahead.

The dungeoneer would then enter Treguard's partly computer-generated, partly hand-drawn fantasy dungeon which was accomplished through bluescreen chromakey - hence the need for the helmet, as the dungeoneer would otherwise just see a large blue room. The team would watch the dungeoneer from a screen in the antechamber, and guide the player using hurried descriptions and shouted instructions, overcoming a variety of puzzles and traps in the dungeon. The instructions might be "Sidestep left, walk forward, take a small step to your right, pick up the key", much like many text-based computer games that relied on description and commands rather than any visuals.

Spells could also be cast, which enabled the dungeoneer to attack, open doors, restore one's life force, reveal clues and perform other special abilities. This was made possible by literally spelling out the name of the spell the team wished to cast. For example, to cast a WELL spell that revealed a wellway to the next level, an advisor would call out: "Spellcasting: W-E-L-L". It was also possible to reverse or stop a previously casted spell by dispelling, which could be done by calling out "Dispell", followed by the letters of the spell in an incorrect order, but not necessarily in reverse order. One team (Team 7 of Series 2) was confounded by bad spelling, continually missing out the letter O of a SHROUD spell while the antagonist Mogdred laughed evilly, while Treguard, apparently constrained by magic, tried to tell them ("Let...ter...O!").

There were three levels in the dungeon. The object of the game was to collect various items, meeting a selection of the many inhabitants of the dungeon along the way, and get out 'alive'. There were different ways of travelling between the levels, including wellways, mine cart rides, lifts ('descenders') and even airborne rides on Smirkenorff, a dragon. The dungeon's inhabitants included jesters, maids, and wizards, who would help the dungeoneer along the way, and guards, witches, and sorcerers, who would either demand passwords, spells, useful objects they need or simply try and kill the dungeoneer. Mary Whitehouse was initially critical of this latter aspect of the programme (i.e. the simulated fatal demise of the dungeoneers) after having been given a macabre description of Knightmare by the press. However, she apologised after she saw Knightmare for herself, noting that there was no gore and Treguard always made it clear that the dungeoneers still survived in "their own time".

If the team managed to complete all three levels and master the dungeon, they were awarded with a prize, which changed over the years from the "Silver Spurs of Squiredom", to medallions, to "Frightknight" trophies (a design of a Knight holding a sword). Unlike most other children's shows, Knightmare had no qualms over having a very high difficulty level. In its eight-year history, only eight teams managed to successfully conquer the dungeon: two in Series 2, one each in Series 4-6, two in Series 7, and a final one in Series 8.

While the essence of Knightmare remained the same, there was also much change and development throughout its series. In Series 2 (1988), a quest object system was introduced, so that dungeoneers now had a specific item to reclaim at the end. There were four main quest items: The Sword of Freedom (originally The Sword of Justice, retrieved once), The Shield of Justice (originally The Shield of Liberty, retrieved twice), The Cup that Heals (never retrieved), and The Crowning Glory (retrieved three times). There were occasionally others, such as "Free the Maid" (used twice, freed once) or "Find the Talisman" (used once, retrieved once).

In its early series, Knightmare lacked a single major antagonist or 'baddie'. Indeed, originally Treguard was specifically a neutral character, neither on the side of good nor evil. The closest there was to a main villain was Mogdred (portrayed by John Woodnutt), but his main duty was, according to Merlin (a wizard, and Mogdred's 'alter ego' in the first series) to "scare you into making a mistake", though he did kill two dungeoneers, one in Series 2 and another early in Series 4. In Series 5 (1991), however, changes were made. The majority of the characters were split into two sides: the righteous "Powers that Be", and the villainous "Opposition", the leader of which was Lord Fear played by Mark Knight. By this time, Treguard's stance had now fully evolved into that of a strictly good character.

Treguard

Treguard, or Treguard of Dunshelm, was the dungeon master and was played by Hugo Myatt for the entire length of the show's eight series. Information about his supposed background can be found in the related literature (see merchandise section). During the show, it was Treguard's job to assist the dungeoneer and his/her team of helpers wherever possible.

At first, Treguard directed the contestants on his own. However from Series 4, Treguard had an assistant; Pickle the elf, played by David Learner and, from Series 7 after Pickle had "gone back to the forest", Majida, a princess and genie of Arabian descent played by Jackie Sawiris. (Majida originally claimed her name was "Daughter Of The Setting Moon Whose Eyes Are Like Daggers In The Hearts Of Men Who Ride The Great Caravan Of The Sultan".)

During the early series Treguard was portrayed as a neutral character, most notably between Series 1 and 3. During the start of Episode 14 of Series 3 (when no team had yet completed that series' dungeon) he went as far as to say "we're celebrating an unbeaten record", apparently siding against the dungeoneers. However, from Series 5 onwards there was a clear distinction made between 'The Powers that Be' and 'The Opposition', against which Treguard became less neutral and more inclined to actively aid and assist the dungeoneer to complete their quest.

Over the course of the series Treguard became well known for his catchphrase "Ooh, nasty!", regularly used just after a dungeoneer had died. Intended only as a passing remark, this was originally an ad lib by Myatt.

 

 

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Genre Game show
Created by Tim Child
Voices of  
Starring Hugo Myatt (Treguard)
Counrty of origin Unitaed Kingdom
No. of episodes 112
Running Time 22-24 mins
Original Run 7 September 1987 11 November 1994
Language English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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