Robin Barlow's personal look back at Knightmare and what it's meant to him.
Here, Knightfans, is my official 30 years of Knightmare related memories, abridged - for you to laugh, weep and hopefully enjoy as much together as the next 30.
Dedicated to my father who passed away on May 8th 2017, aged just 72.
Series 1 (1987)
I'm hazy on original memories from the very first series. But I strongly recall the trial of insults between Cedric the monk and Folly the jester, and thinking: this is a bit different to normal TV.
I also recall unspecific scenes with Folly which, although later paled in comparison to Motley, in my opinion were strong.
David says: 'Following my 30 facts about Knightmare, Robin has kindly let me chip in with some of my own memories of all things Knightmare.
In May 2013, Challenge started re-repeating Series 1. It was the first time Knightmare had been shown on free-to-air TV since the CITV days. I watched it with friends from the Knightmare.com community. I don't think I saw Series 1 in 1987, so this more than made up for it.'
Series 2 (1988)
There are winners! Two of them and overall things are developing to make this show must-see TV. The characters are strong and the mini storylines compelling.
David: 'My earliest memory of Knightmare is Mark's quest in Series 2. I remember being instantly enthralled by the setting and the gameplay.
For a long time, I assumed that my first series was Knightmare's first series, until the series guides on this website put me right.'
Series 3 (1989)
Knightmare keeps going from strength to strength and is now chock full of tension, thrills and excitement. Hordriss appears and is almost demonic. So much to enjoy.
David: 'One of the dungeoneers this series was called Leo. As he progressed to Level 2 and below, I remember particularly wanting him to win because a boy in my class had the middle name Leo.
That may be rather specific but it reminds me why Knightmare appealed so strongly at that age. I was young enough to believe that two realities were meeting: real people on a real adventure. I cared so much about what happened on the quest that it felt personal, and I could dream of it one day being me. By the following year, I was recognising a distinction between characters and actors ("That woman in Spatz was Cheryl in Brookside") and watching adult dramas, and it started to become harder to lose myself in the fictions of children's TV. Series 3 - a refinement of the series that had gone before - came at the perfect time. If it's your favourite Knightmare series too, maybe that's partly why.'
Series 4 (1990)
Repetitive in hindsight definitely but at the time it still worked well. The purple haze gives credence to the 'bad dream' element.
New characters again prove popular such as Brother Mace. Sadly the last series for John Woodnutt.
David: 'A big change in Knightmare's look, with David Rowe's room illustrations almost completely replaced with exterior photos and eyeshield sequences. I remember being untroubled by this. I'd visited some castles over the summer so I enjoyed seeing this in the quests, English Heritage logo and all.
Beyond being supreme entertainment, Knightmare was starting to enrich my life. I recall being given a school project on the myth of the Minotaur and finding the name Ariadne very familiar.'
Series 5 (1991)
The dawn of Fear. Things change here and in many ways for the better. Tension is still there but used in different ways and the humour is more overt.
David: 'That dawn of Fear was, for me, a bit of a slow sunrise. (Red eyes in the morning, life force warning.)
For all the repetition in Series 4, the spyglass scenes in Series 5 felt more formulaic to me. I was old enough to be conscious of Lord Fear being a successor to Mogdred. I remember wanting him to get off his mountain and into the quests. I got my wish in the next series.'
Series 6 (1992)
Akin to Series 3 in its overall impressiveness. The technology as usual surpasses what can be expected for a children's television show. The series' dragon arc is chilling and everything comes together so well.
David: 'It's easier to appreciate Knightmare's need to evolve now than it was then. Confronted by the new opening sequence - The Incredible Self-Guiding Dungeoneer - my friend and I laughed ourselves silly. We probably stopped laughing some time around Ah Wok's first scene.'
Series 7 (1993)
More changes are afoot - and not that one from the earlier series. Treguard and Lord Fear have new assistants and the target audience is perceived to be younger. Much too much reliance on sight spells and whatnot. The new helmet irks.
David: 'I made a closer connection to Knightmare than ever: I started a new school and someone in my class appeared in Series 7. Later that school year, we had a day trip to Kentwell Hall: a Series 7 filming location.
On the other hand, the new school meant a longer journey, which meant getting home too late to watch Knightmare as it went out.
Perhaps losing that autumn ritual, along with all the real-world adjustments, made me less open to the changes within Knightmare this time. Dungeoneers looked different, thanks to the new helmet; the levels looked different (Spanish castles as it turned out); Lord Fear's chief henchman was a different kettle of fish (tuna apparently); Treguard's new assistant was too (screaming piranhas). I remember finding the incidental music too intrusive.
It all seemed a long way from the escapades and escapism of Series 3. Series 7 didn't get enshrined in my memory. When I joined the Knightmare.com forum ten years later, I had to ask people to remind me who Barry was.'
Series 8 (1994)
The final series and no proper ending as such. Feels rather compressed yet is still enjoyable. A surprise comes when the first Level 1 death occurs for some time. 13-year-old self is yet to realise its impact.
Too cool for school
Knightmare was often the talk of the playground. No more so than in my corner where my friends and myself discussed endless possibilities for quest outcomes and what would happen in the episode. Later on Marta and Stiletta were discussed for different reasons...
CBBC vs CITV
The ongoing battle between the the two children's networks was intense. Being me, I split myself between the two with other shows like Fun House, the Queen's Nose, ChuckleVision, Mr Majeika, Woof!, Emu's World amongst many others. On balance CITV just about pips it.
David: 'I think any job interview of a candidate over 30 should include the question: were you a BBC kid or an ITV kid?
I felt loyal to CITV but would make forays to the other channels. If you go by my website, Glad You Remember, my favourite programmes besides Knightmare were Spatz, Mike & Angelo, What's Up Doc? (all CITV), SuperTed (CBBC) and Pob (Channel 4).'
Seven in total (though the seventh was a puzzle book). Whilst not quite Fighting Fantasy quality, they were in keeping with the show and travelled everywhere with me on school and family holidays.
David: 'The gamebooks meant as much to me as the episodes, bridging the gaps between each series. And like the series, I have gone back to them more times than any other books. Even now I pick up new words from them and find in-jokes I'd missed. Only rarely did I roll any dice.'
The Knightmare Adventurers Club
This got me all sorts of goodies. But it was The Quest newsletter that was the most prized, was read repeatedly from cover to cover and was full of articles that made you want more.
Games: computer, boardgame and Teletext
The strongest was Teletext. But the boardgame had decent replayability. The computer games were enjoyably frustrating and we had the feem toon (unsullied by Dennis Waterman).
David: 'I remember going on Teletext to play Bamboozle and being excited to find Knightmare in its place. It was a wonderful combination of the episodes and the gamebooks: a Knightmare adventure on TV that I could play.
In case you missed them at the time, or want to refresh your memory, one of the Knightmare Teletext games has been brought back to life.'
Longing to go on the show
Something I always wanted, and just as I get a team together the show is no more. One day...
The search for posterity
Although the show lives on in all the above and so much more, there is no official video orÂ DVD of the show. There was a highly enjoyable Knightmare ConventionÂ DVD however (a crowdfunding perk that may be more widely available at some point).
David: 'While we wait for news of further Series 1-8 repeats - or, if we dare to dream, of Series 9 - there are several hundred official clips on the ITV Children's Classics YouTube channel. They don't cover every quest, but many a classic moment is in there. I've catalogued and playlisted all those Knightmare clips.
As for the convention Robin mentioned: there'll be more on that in Part 2, when we'll look at how the internet age helped to create a new set of Knightmare memories.'