Games Machine 08-87 p94 - first page of Knightmare article

Games Machine

By Keith McDonald

"Imagine a game show in which the only prize is success within the dungeon... and the cost of failure is death." John Minson imagines the world of Knightmare in 1987.


Knightmare hadn't even broadcast its first episode when John Minson visited the Anglia Studios, but he was soon willing to bet the show would be here to stay.

When he arrived, Minson was immediately shown the 15-minute Knightmare pilot that convinced executives to risk a first series. It apparently drew early interest from American producers as well. (A pilot was later made for the American market without take-up.)

A preview of the first two pages of a 1987 article for The Games Machine, 'Entering the World of TV Make Believe'.

A second pilot is unusual as most new shows broadcast their experimental episode. But this was delivering a proof of concept to those who were unconvinced about computers.

There are features on artist David Rowe, who was hard at work completing artwork, and Robert Harris, who gave a live demonstration of how the digital effects work.

The electronic backgrounds seem to glow, casting a strangely hyper-real light… I would have sworn that those stones had been gathering dust for centuries.

John Minson

A preview of the final two pages of a 1987 article for The Games Machine, 'Entering the World of TV Make Believe'.

What Knightmare creator Tim Child and director Sally Freeman also discovered was the strong calibre of games players.

When Sally had gone to interview some of the promising applicants armed with questions from Tim, she wasn't prepared for the children to pick apart the details. This meant detail was going to be important to make the game convincing for fantasy fans.

It also convinced Tim that children were sharp and that he should resist the calls to make the challenges easier.

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