Treguard holding helmet of justice

30 Facts About Knightmare

By David Goldstein

Just keep telling yourself: it's only a list article. Isn't it?

Yes. It's 30 years since Treguard first welcomed watchers of illusion to the castle of confusion. To distract yourself from feeling old, here's a nice long list of Knightmare trivia for you to browse. Some you may know already. But with 30 facts covering all aspects of Knightmare, we're confident that new knowledge awaits you.

And there are no falsehoods here: proof that the age of fake news is no match for the age of adventure.

So without any further ado of any kind whatsoever, here is our bucket-on-head list.

Level 1

1. It took two pilot episodes before Knightmare was commissioned.

2. It used to be on Mondays. It wasn't until Series 3 (1989) that Knightmare became a Friday fixture.

Children's ITV 1992: A scroll features the time of broadcast for Knightmare Series 6.

3. Teams couldn't see the life force clock, which was added for the benefit of watchers. It was down to Treguard to urge the teams forward with life force warnings.

4. Live horse warning! A real equine was brought into the Anglia TV studios to play Neddy, steed of Sir Hugh, in Series 5. Not quite as well behaved as the horse in the cartoon intro, it did a massive wee in the lift. Where am I? Urine a room.

5. Did anybody actually win? People revisiting Knightmare for the first time in decades will sometimes ask this. Out of 69 teams in Series 1-8, 8 teams won. Between them, they redeemed a maid, a talisman, 3 crowns, 2 shields and a sword... but never the cup.

Knightmare Series 2 Team 4. Mark frees the maid and becomes Knightmare's first winner.

6. Syfy and Challenge repeated all 112 TV episodes of Knightmare. The CITV channel showed Series 7 Episodes 14-15 during the Old Skool Weekend in 2013.

7. The Corridor of Blades was codenamed "Gatwick" by the crew for its moving walkway.

8. The eyeshield was made by a taxidermist. Emily Mayer, whose specialty is in posing animals, turned her hand to sculpture for this dungeoneering device. The Eyeshield 9 is due out soon.

The original Eye Shield used in Knightmare.

9. Knightmare travelled to other lands. France remade it as Le Chevalier du Labyrinthe; Spain's version was called El Rescate del Talisman. YouTube has episodes. A German remake fell through; a 1992 pilot for the US market, Lords of the Game, a pilot made by the UK cast and crew for the US market, didn't succeed either.

10. Puppet + helicopter = dragon. Behind the magic of Smirkenorff's journeys were detailed puppets (made by Talismen and Mark Cordory) and footage recorded by Helifilms. In his second year, Smirky got a voice too, courtesy of Clifford Norgate (Hordriss).

Knightmare's assistant producer, Claire Wittenbury, operates the small cast of Smirkenorff, while Clifford Norgate provides the dragon's voice.

Level 2

11. Several spells were never cast. Out of 80 or so spells handed out to teams, over 16 went unused. One team was given TRANSFORMATION and BUT to get them through Level 3, but didn't use them correctly, leaving us baffled as to what should have happened.

12. Knightmare quests ended 14 different ways, 12 of them somewhat deadly. Thank you to @QuantumPirate on Twitter for these excellent graphs.

Stats on Knightmare teams, by @QuantumPirate

13. Knightmare creator and producer Tim Child was sometimes given feedback by the actors on the teams: He told Bothers Bar: 'Level 1 was about making good teams better and identifying bad teams early. I don't like wasting good adventures on poor teams, and the cast felt the same. "Kill them Tim", they'd say to me in the corridor. "This lot are pathetic." Usually I'd give them one chance to improve, and then we'd move them into something difficult.'

14. In Series 4, Knightmare tried a Christmas ending. By interrupting a quest a few rooms away from victory, it guaranteed that Christmas would never be welcome at Dunshelm again.

15. Not all the pencils made it. Some advisors dropped theirs into the viewing pool in Series 8, where the writing implements remained stationery. Their sacrifices were not pointless.

Knightmare Series 8 Team 2. An over-the-shoulder shot of Daniel walking through Linghorm, the new tower.

16. Knightmare was mentioned on Pointless in 2016. Only 2/100 people knew who Knightmare's presenter was. Richard Osman gets tweeted by MPs about Knightmare sometimes.

Knightmare's Hugo Myatt appears as an answer in a round on BBC show Pointless.

17. The skull-on-legs had a name. To us it was the catacombite; to the crew it was Eric, as revealed by TV Times.

The catacombite, based on a handpainted scene by David Rowe, as shown on Series 1 of Knightmare (1987).

18. Knightmare and crowdfunding go together. We've seen fully funded campaigns for Knightmare Live, David Rowe's Art of Knightmare book and our Knightmare Convention.

19. The official Knightmare gamebooks are an enthralling mix of the TV characters and some quirkier creations. There's a good chance that eBay and Amazon have copies at this moment. In the third gamebook (Fortress of Assassins) alone, there was Thor barbecuing a dinosaur, a nun who slew vampires and a hellish figure who quoted Sympathy for the Devil.

Cover of book 6: The Dragon's Lair

20. Besides the six gamebooks (and one puzzle book), Knightmare also became a board game, Teletext games and stage plays: there was one in the '90s by David Learner (Pickle), a forerunner of Knightmare Live.

Level 3

21. Knightmare cost £50,000 per programme, also known as A Lot In Those Days.

22. The Knightmare Adventurers' Club (best not to shorten it) announced several honorary members in its newsletter The Quest. They included Craig Charles, Tommy Boyd and Michaela Strachan. It also revealed that the late Bob Holness was a fan.

23. Blockbusters and Knightmare had the same composer for their theme tunes: Ed Welch. He also wrote the theme for Catchphrase.

24. Treguard's catchphrase wasn't scripted. In Series 1, the fourth team met their doom after getting a riddle wrong and taking the wrong door (they were trailblazers) and the Dungeon Master came out with: "Ooh, nasty." He's since used it in documentaries, Knightmare Live cameos and in a cage on Dick & Dom in Da Bungalow in 2004.

25. Hugo Myatt's other roles besides Treguard include an Ancient Greek storyteller in Zig Zag, a suspected vampire in Chucklevision, the Guildmaster in Fable, a lost scientist in the escape room Bewilder Box and a pantomime villain alongside Geoffrey from Rainbow and Colin Baker.

26. Michael Cule rules. In Series 4-5 he played a monk, a weeping door, a hun and a gatekeeper. In his first quest, he told a Latin joke that he knew the dungeoneer wouldn't get. In his last quest, he zapped a hobgoblin away. He wrote the Knightmare Teletext adventures too. Before being on Knightmare, Michael was in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy play and TV series, as was David Learner (Pickle in Knightmare). When they were both at a Hitchhiker's Guide convention in June 2017, they recreated Knightmare. Don't panic! Unless you hear the goblin horn.

Brother Mace, a tavern monk played by Michael Cule in Series 4 of Knightmare (1990).

27. Knightmare has a wiki, the Knightmare Lexicon, has over 1000 articles. If you're feeling brave, use this link to sidestep to a random entry.

28. Screenwipe had a Knightmare clip. It was in Series 3 Episode 4. Charlie Brooker said: "groundbreaking kids' show Knightmare used a combination of bluescreen trickery and CGI to create a deadly interactive world in which children were burnt alive."

29. Sidestepping didn't arrive until the third quest. Some teams used "sidefoot" or "inch" instead. But ultimately it's still sidestepping and it always does the job.

30.Ok, not always.

Thirty is the score. You may know more. Your quest is the same as ours at to make sure that the greatest television programme ever made is never forgotten. As we tread the path through dungeons deep and caverns dark, let's see what happens between now and Knightmare's 40th anniversary. And if that happens to include such perilous challenges as a midlife crisis, you could always buy a motorbike.

Hugo Myatt on his Vincent motorbike from 1988. From The Quest, official newsletter.

You Might Also Like...

Mark Knight Remembers Shakespeare

Mural of William Shakespeare at Senate House, London.

Mark Knight has been speaking about his days as an actor and lecturer at London's Globe Theatre to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

Bomb Rooms

Series 1 Quest 2 arrive at a Bomb Room.

Bomb rooms were an immediate threat in the early years of Knightmare. Teams had to exit fast or face elimination.


The Wall of Jericho, with the full room behind. Appears in Level 3 during the early series of Knightmare.

This complex room was sometimes obscured by a large wall in the foreground. Once beyond this, dungeoneers were able to summon Merlin.

See Also