Cropped 1987 publicity shot of Treguard (Hugo Myatt).

Knightmare in the Guardian 2013

By Keith McDonald

The Guardian has published items on how Knightmare was made and how it still stands out in the world of children's television.


How we made Knightmare

Ben Child, son of Tim Child, presents interviews with his father and Hugo Myatt (Treguard) for the Guardian's 'How we made' series.

Tim says Knightmare 'was in crisis' from the beginning because the slow production process made the contestants do silly things.

"Some teams would walk their dungeoneer off a precipice for no reason," he recalls. "They were told at the start they weren't allowed to use weapons yet would pick up a dagger."

"The gameplay was really critical path analysis," he adds. "If you did the right thing, you got the right result."

A variant of the Snake / Scorpion Room, based on a handpainted scene by David Rowe, as shown on Series 1 of Knightmare (1987).

On the contentious issue of Knightmare's end, Child concedes that it wasn't down to viewing figures themselves but broader demographic trends.

"We had the highest viewing figures just before Knightmare was taken off air," he says.

The problem was that our audience was ageing, and our show had almost become too sophisticated for its timeslot.

Tim Child

Read in full: How we made Knightmare

Knightmare still stands out

The challenge of nostalgia, says Adam Boult, is coming to terms with how badly the shows we are fondest of have aged.

"Much of what felt like important, high-quality broadcasting 20 years ago doesn't quite stand up to repeat viewing," he says.

Knightmare, on the other hand, was "done in a way TV has almost always managed to get wrong since".

What it got right was combining cutting-edge effects with love and personality, says Boult.

This should act as a lesson, he adds. "If you want to create something that will still be loved two decades on, it takes something more than technology alone can provide."

A frightknight from Knightmare imposed over an internet browser.

Boult looks ahead to Knightmare's one-off special to YouTube with anticipation.

"It would be all too easy to play up to the cheerful nostalgia factor that's attached itself to the show," he says.

"It's easy to scoff at the dated effects, the over-enthusiastic actors… the awkwardness of the young contestants - but that overlooks just how exciting Knightmare was to watch first time around."

Read in full: Knightmare stands out from yesterday's - and today's - TV shows

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