Header image formed of the graphic featuring Knightmare in Wireframe.

Knightmare in Wireframe Magazine

By Keith McDonald

Knightmare is the subject of a splendid feature in Issue 40 of Wireframe, the computer game magazine.


Aaron Potter's 'Total Knightmare' investigates the challenges faced by television producers who attempt to introduce video game elements to television shows.

His two case studies are Knightmare and Last Commanders, a new CBBC sci-fi series for children that aired its second series last year.

Image of the first spread of 'Total Knightmare' by Aaron Potter for Wireframe, Issue 40 (July 2020).

With almost 25 years between the two shows, it makes for an interesting combination.

Both shows speak well to their age groups and use the fear factor intelligently. Both producers' familiarity with video games helped them understand what would and wouldn't translate well into television.

Unlike Knightmare, Ryan Paul Meloy, producer of Last Commanders, had the benefit of previous examples to draw upon. Anything that had failed before, he could avoid the same mistakes.

But he faced the same challenge that had led decision-makers to axe Knightmare over two decades earlier - what's the appeal to a viewer that a video game doesn't have?

Furtive beginnings

Tim Child, creator of Knightmare, reveals that his testing for the show in 1985 had a surreptitious edge to it.

By booking the session under the heading 'experiments in chroma key for weather forecasting', he ensured that none of his bosses showed up to see what was going on.

No one clocked that our caption camera was pointing at a handpainted dungeon scene rather than a weather map

Tim Child

While Child believes modern TV production practice doesn't create the space for real-time problem solving, Meloy is optimistic that his format may be onto a winner.

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Treguard the Dungeon Master, in Series 1 (1987). Played by Hugo Myatt.

Treguard the Dungeon Master was the host of Knightmare. He presided over the gameplay from an antechamber in Knightmare Castle.

Catacombite

The catacombite challenge from the first three series of Knightmare.

A giant ghoulish creature made of bones was a menacing threat. Dungeoneers had to subdue it or avoid it to escape.

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