Twelfth Doctor and Knightmare poster

Knightmare and Doctor Who

By Nicholas Lam

What connects Knightmare with the Whoniverse? Quite a lot, actually...

What connects Knightmare with the Whoniverse? Quite a lot, actually...

In November 2013, Doctor Who's 50th anniversary episode 'The Day of the Doctor' was watched by millions of fans in 94 countries. Many will be looking forward to this year's Christmas special, featuring Peter Capaldi's debut appearance - well, his debut from the nostrils downward - as the 12th - or is that 13th? - incarnation of titular time-travelling alien the Doctor.

Some of those Whovians are also Knightmare fans, who grew up hiding behind the sofa from Daleks and Dreadnorts alike (and the only thing they dislike more than being called Whovians is being called Knighties). They might even recall Sylvester McCoy taking over the TARDIS on 7th September 1987, just hours after the first ever Knightmare episode was broadcast on CITV. In fact, Doctor Who is such a popular topic on the forum that it has its very own subforum. If you enjoy discussing both shows, feel free to join in any time!

However, this audience overlap is far from the only connection between Knightmare and Doctor Who. They have also shared several cast and crew members, starting with Anthony Donovan, who played mysterious green wizard Grimaldine and provided the eerie voice of the Brollachan in Knightmare Series 7. He appeared in Episode 1 of the Patrick Troughton story 'The Space Pirates' (1969), as a Space Corps soldier who alerted the Lieutenant after hearing the TARDIS materialise on the beacon they were guarding. The Doctor and his companions were mistaken for pirates and pursued by the guards, who were themselves gunned down when the real pirates arrived. This is currently one of the missing episodes that was wiped by the BBC, although the audio track still exists. In the early 1990s, Patrick Troughton's son Michael hosted children's gameshow TimeBusters, which was made by the Knightmare production team and featured many of the same actors and contestants.

John Woodnutt (Merlin and Mogdred in Knightmare) in Doctor Who.

Jon Pertwee's first adventure as the Doctor, 'Spearhead From Space' (1970), guest starred the late John Woodnutt, who would go on to play both Merlin and his evil alter-ego Mogdred in the first four series of Knightmare. Woodnutt's character George Hibbert was the managing director of a plastics factory taken over by Autons, and was eventually killed by them after breaking free of their mind control. A video clip is available. Woodnutt later appeared in another Pertwee story, 'Frontier In Space' (1973), as the Draconian Emperor.

In the Tom Baker era, the Cybermen suits used in 'Revenge of the Cybermen' (1975) were developed by Knightmare's future costume designer extraordinaire, Prue Handley. John Woodnutt played two further guest roles, one of which involved wearing another prosthetic mask, as Broton in 'Terror of the Zygons' (1975) - leader of the shape-shifting aliens who returned in last month's 50th anniversary special. Broton also stole the identity of Scottish nobleman the Duke of Forgill, and there are BBC clips of both his real form and his human disguise. Woodnutt's final appearance was in 'The Keeper of Traken' (1981), where he played Consul Seron - another character who failed to make it through the serial alive!

Clifford Norgate (Hordriss the Confuser and others in Knightmare) appears in Doctor Who.

In between these two adventures, fellow Knightmare mage Clifford Norgate (Hordriss the Confuser) appeared in a couple of stories as well, though only in a voice role. His unmistakable growling tones, later used for such characters as Owen and Smirkenorff the dragons, Oakley the tree troll and the fearsome Dreadnort, can be heard in numerous video clips as the minotaur-like Nimon in 'The Horns of Nimon' (1980). He also provided the voice of the Tachyon Recreation Generator in 'The Leisure Hive' (1980).

Actor, stuntman and sword master Richard Bonehill, who was an invisible wellway guardian and the original Cedric (or 'Monk Monster') in the 1987 Knightmare pilot, played a security guard during Tom Baker's final moments as the Doctor in 'Logopolis' (1981), and had other uncredited roles in two Peter Davison and three Colin Baker serials. The 20th anniversary special 'The Five Doctors' (1983), in which Peter Davison teamed up with his predecessors, and his last story 'The Caves of Androzani' (1984), both featured the work of French production designer Jean Peyre, who (as mentioned by David Rowe in James Aukett's 2012 documentary) was brought into Knightmare "to work out the grids and get the geometry right" in the dungeon rooms.

McGrew, a barbarian played by David Verrey in Series 3 of Knightmare (1989).

One Knightmare alumnus has appeared in the modern era of Doctor Who: actor David Verrey, who voiced wall monster Golgarach and played Scottish warrior McGrew in Series 3, was in the Christopher Eccleston two-parter 'Aliens of London' / 'World War Three' (2005). His character Joseph Green, who became acting Prime Minister following the death of Tony Blair, was in fact one of the Slitheen who had disguised themselves in human skins. Verrey can be seen in this trailer (unzipping his head!) Someone else who worked on Doctor Who under Russell T Davies (plus its spin-offs, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures) was props maker Mark Cordory, the designer and sculptor of beloved Knightmare dragon Smirkenorff.

Fans of the Big Finish audio productions might recognise the voice of Hugo Myatt (Treguard), who played Daland in the Peter Davison story 'Omega' (2003) and had a recurring role in 'Gallifrey' Series 1 & 3 as Mephistopheles Arkadian, a charming but untrustworthy dealer in arms and information.

In one of the stranger connections between the two programmes, sci-fi magazine SFX reportedly once listed TV historian Bryan McNerney as their 64th choice to be the next Doctor. A world away from his earlier acting role, as the roaring ogre Mr Grimwold in Knightmare Series 3!

The boatman, played by Paul Valentine, in Series 4 of Knightmare.

A few Knightmare filming locations can also be seen in Doctor Who. 'The Androids of Tara' (1978) was filmed at Leeds Castle in Kent, one of the main locations used in Knightmare Series 4. (The actor playing Farrah in this story, Paul Lavers, also happens to be the husband of Erin Geraghty who played Series 4 witch Mistress Goody.) 'The King's Demons' (1983) featured Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, first used in Knightmare Series 5. Two Welsh fortresses that appeared in Series 5 & 6, Castell Coch near Cardiff and Caerphilly Castle, have been used in several 'nu-Who' stories.

Unsurprisingly, the world of fanfiction includes some enjoyable Knightmare / Doctor Who crossovers - for example 'The Truth Of The Dungeon', a 2000 story by Andrew Buckley starring the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, and its sequel 'A Colourful Encounter For Mogdred' featuring the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe. More recently, John Elliott published 'Ac Velut In Somnis' which sees Rose Tyler on a quest to rescue the Tenth Doctor from Lord Fear's clutches. There are Doctor Who references in Drassil's story 'The Three Of Hearts', too.

Some Knightmare fans still harbour dreams of the programme being resurrected, just as Doctor Who was successfully relaunched as a TV series following a 16 year absence. It has already returned for a one-off special this year (the Knightmare equivalent of Paul McGann's 1996 TV movie?), so as for what the future may bring... to quote Tom Baker, "Who knows!"

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