THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE

An interview with Mark Wickson, Knightmare's first winning dungeoneer.

Mark Wickson interview

[knightmare.com/September 2004]

History was made in 1988 when Mark, Daniel, Matthew and Jonathan, the fourth team of Series 2, became the first team to win Knightmare. We've charted their quest from Level 1 to victory here.

Within moments of the team's victory being shown on Children's ITV, dungeoneer Mark was on air speaking to presenter Mark Granger by phone:

  • Presenter: "Did you think the dungeon was unbeatable?"
  • Mark: "Yeah, because no-one before had ever done it, so it was really nerve-racking."
  • Presenter: "Would you fancy having another go?"
  • Mark: "Yeah, I would because no adventure is ever the same."

We have an audio clip of Mark's interview.

In 2004, members of our discussion forum got to question Mark on his journey through, and into, legend.

What did it feel like to be the first winning team?

Very weird! It's like anything that you haven't done before or seen anyone else do: you really can't believe that you'll do it, then when it happens you're too stunned to take it all in. It's only later, when you actually see it and get feedback, that it begins to sink in.

Was there some kind of celebration afterwards?

Not really, a quick cola and then back on the train to Oxford... pretty much what 13-year-olds are able to get away with!

 

Do you still own the trophies (the Silver Spurs of Squiredom)?

Yes, somewhere in the attic. They aren't the most impressive looking things, but then we didn't do it to win prizes.

Are you still in contact with your team mates?

Only one of them (Dan) but the others are still in the area. We occasionally sit back and think about it.. it's strange thinking that it was 16 years ago, and we were just little squeaky kids at the time.

 

What was your most memorable occurrence backstage?

Hehe... Sad to say but probably sat in the green room playing on the Commodore 64. Backstage moments mainly consist of sitting around waiting, although once the quest was finished we did get a guided tour of the studio and behind the scenes things like computer effects and wardrobe.

It's also odd to think that when we were having lunch in the studio canteen a few of the actors would be in there too, but since they were out of costume and make-up, we didn't recognise them... and when we first arrived in the canteen and mistaking the sugar shaker for a salt one, and chips covered in sugar is NOT nice.

 

What was the scariest moment of your quest?

I think the cavernwights. Believe me, they felt a lot scarier than the cuddly wombles that they looked like. And if you look at me when I meet Gumboil, I nearly jump in the air as I was so scared when he first speaks.

Possibly though it might be trying to climb into the wells, as Tim Child had come up with the idea that the dungeoneers should zoom into them. This meant that a 'well' was constructed at an angle, then placed up high, then the dungeoneer crawled into it at an angle, and went down a slide, which when shown on the TV looks like I'm disappearing down the well. But having to wear a helmet, a knapsack, and not fall off the precarious ladder was something of a challenge.

 

At what point in your quest did you allow yourself to think: 'we're going to win'?

I don't think we did, except maybe the penultimate room. We just thought nobody would ever win, that's just how it was - winning was an unattainable dream.

From the moment you step into the studio, you realised that something we'd been dreaming about for over a year had finally happened. We had successfully applied for Series 1, but due to time restraints got 'bumped' into Series 2. Being there and having the chance to do something so special was 'winning' for us.

How long did it take to film the whole quest?

I think we were in Norwich for 9 days, but the quest itself took about 4 days. And that entailed being in the studio for about 7 hours a day, with each room taking over an hour to set up.

We initially stayed in the studio waiting for the previous team to complete their quest, and as no one knew when they would finish it meant a lot of waiting around. We were put up in the Lord Nelson hotel: on a recent trip to Norwich I saw it again, which brought back some happy memories. The Knightmare production team were very generous: not only did they put us up in a very swish hotel (swish to 13-year-olds at least), but they also let us have an unlimited room service tab.

Were there any major bloopers that had to be refilmed?

Not really, just one or two rooms where something technical (like sound or graphics) went wrong, but that was literally only once or twice. I don't think it would have worked if there had been any element of rehearsing to it.

We did a 'test' room before we actually started the quest, just to establish the easiest way to do things, and so that we wouldn't make any silly mistakes.

What was the reaction at school after your quest was shown on TV?

Big from the kids, confused from the teachers, but they were happy to announce that Wood Green School pupils won hehe.

The reaction now is more impressive, with cries of "Oh my god you won Knightmare!" from various people in their twenties. It's surprising to think just how well remembered Knightmare is.

I'd like to thank everyone involved in this website, and all of the fans that keep the memory of Knightmare alive. It's a real honour to be remembered and to be part of something so special.

 

Our thanks to Mark for getting in contact and sharing his experiences. Find out what Mark's been up to more recently by following him on Twitter.

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