The silver anniversary of a silver tongue.
26th November 1993, Knightmare Series 7. The dungeon had been beaten by Julie, Helen, Samantha and Helen. The phase was nearing its end but Treguard, Majida and the watching masses hoped to keep the taste of victory going.
We got more than we bargained for. We got Barry Thorne.
Advised by Simon, Derek (his brother) and Daniel, Barry was - to use the technical term - something else. While some dungeoneers seemed to lack the confidence to share their own name without a prompt, Barry's boldness knew no bounds.
Across four episodes, his supreme charisma (or as Daniel later put it, 'his relentless gob') helped his team to triumph over the dungeon and ensured that he became, and remains, one of the most revered Knightmare contestants.
In 2013, the last two episodes of the quest were repeated as part of CITV's fabulous Old Skool Weekend. Dozens of people live-tweeted, including a famous journalist (more on her later). Barry & co themselves did something akin to this: during filming of the quest, they made brief entries in the contestants' diary provided in the hospitality room. These were later published in The Quest newsletter.
Here are some extracts, accompanied by videos and images of Barry (and his voice box) in action.
13 August 1993
Yahoo! we start today and the sun is shining - it must be an omen.
14 August 1993
We're still alive and in Level 2, but there is a Troll nearly. I'm the dungeoneer and my nerves are shattered.
15 August 1993
I've just stomped on some goblins and a bloke with a boot! That was cruel fun but the right thing under the circumstances.
Level 3 and it's grim, really grim. We have just taken a boat ride through the sewers, home from home for some of the team!
17 August 1993
Make my day, Fear! (but don't try too hard on my account).
Very close now, only a few more rooms and a few more baddies, namely Lord Fear and an immensely large Troll. It's looking difficult but I think we can handle it.
I hope so! We need to find a Troll hammer before we meet the Troll, and preferably before we meet Lord Fear as well!
I had a chat with Sylvester. That was fun! I have used one potion, but still lots to do. Sylvester is frozen for a while.
18 August 1993
Well, we've had our troll bashing scene, we've been formally presented with trophies and we've had a grand tour of the studios. It's been excellent fun, but now it's all over. We'll never forget the Dungeon of Deceit, and thanks to everybody who made this dungeon playable to the contestants. It's not just good television it's a great game. Good luck to the teams in the next series - go bravely, go carefully and go quickly!
Barry was later interviewed for The Quest. A few highlights:
- You need lots of skill to do the floor puzzles. My favourite part was talking to people, though
- We just wanted to have a good time, really... I thought it would be great to ride a dragon, not many people can say they've done that!
- We were quite upset actually because we never got to meet [Lord Fear] in the flesh. I wanted to have a slanging match with him, I think I would have won
He followed this up with a letter to The Quest about the nickname Majida gave him on screen:
'Smart bottom' went down very well with friends and family. Henceforth that is what I am known as to everyone who is in the know.
A decade later, Barry graced our guestbook, forum and chatroom with his presence. Nowadays he keeps a lower profile and though he wasn't at our Knightmare Convention in 2014, the mention of his name by Cliff Barry (Brother Strange, Raptor, Lissard - all of whom met Barry) got a round of applause.
Among the clue scrolls Barry's team opened - five; no other team opened more - was one with the phrase 'Rock and Roll'. You could say Barry was the rock and roll frontman of dungeoneering. He understood that Knightmare should be, above all, entertainment for contestants and watchers alike.
When Caitlin Moran tweeted about Barry's quest, her comment was:
Weird episode of Game of Thrones #knightmare #citv
Perhaps a better title would be Game of Thornes. If Lord Fear ever tries to make good (bad?) on his personal threat at the end of Series 7 - "Treguard. Majida. Barry... I'll get you... if it's the last thing I do!" - we're in for a great spin-off.