Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

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Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by Drassil » Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:35 am

In a recent Twitter thread about Knightmare and how a revival could work, one tweet is particularly interesting. It's from Dom Wilkins, whose career is in TV scheduling.

When I looked after Challenge we talked about bringing it back endlessly but was cost prohibitive for a small channel because of worries about making the computer stuff look good but maybe a simpler approach would work as per stage show

According to Dom's LinkedIn page, he was Challenge's Scheduling Manager from 2011-2015 (covering its most recent Knightmare repeats and the YouTube special) and Acting Director for part of 2012.

It's good to know that Challenge's appreciation of Knightmare, at its height, was even greater than we thought.

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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by Librase » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:32 pm

That is interesting to read. I always had the impression that Challenge didn't value Knightmare that much but it seems they did more than I thought!

Unfortunately, I fear they might have been right about it not being cost-effective for the size of their channel and audience (we would have loved it, but there's not a lot of us!). It would be interesting to see how a stage show or purely live-action version would do, especially in the light of the success of web shows like Critical Role (which streams a group of voice actors playing Dungeons and Dragons).

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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by EvelynMason » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:25 am

Endlessly is hard to fathom, you get the idea they discussed day and night about the prospect of bringing the series back but I don't think it's as clear cut as that. I'll be truthful I hardly watch Challenge, the Chase and Who Wants to be a Millionaire is OK now and again for general knowledge purposes but there's endless repeats of Bullseye (I must have seen every series) and then things like Family Fortunes, Wheel of Fortune and Pointless where interest is minimal at best.

Any DVD release seems never to occur, if it hasn't been introduced already then perhaps it never will so that only leaves specific freeview channels and Challenge seems best bet. I don't use Youtube (to watch the old series) as on pay as you go contracts and it uses up too much credit to really get involved as I would like.

When was Knightmare even on freeview regularly ? I think maybe six, seven years ago but even then it was only one or two episodes back to back. Not nearly enough to satisfy real enthusiasts of the show. :(

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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by Pooka » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:44 pm

EvelynMason wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:25 am
When was Knightmare even on freeview regularly ? I think maybe six, seven years ago but even then it was only one or two episodes back to back. Not nearly enough to satisfy real enthusiasts of the show. :(
A few years back - and the actual date escapes me somewhat but I'm thinking 2013 - Challenge (then styled Challenge?) showed Knightmare every Friday evening as part of an 80s nostalgia block (one episode of Fun House, followed by one episode Knightmare Series 1 or 2), and as far as I'm aware, that's the last time it was regularly on.

Years earlier than that, Challenge? showed all eight series of Knightmare at various times. I never managed to catch all the episodes, as they seemed to keep changing the times it was on, but it was nice to see it all again in its glory!
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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by Drassil » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:53 pm

EvelynMason wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:25 am
When was Knightmare even on freeview regularly ? I think maybe six, seven years ago but even then it was only one or two episodes back to back. Not nearly enough to satisfy real enthusiasts of the show. :(
To give you an accurate answer to your question: Challenge repeated Series 3 most recently from Sunday 28th August 2016, as reported by us at the time.

The 'Challenge Late Zone' repeats of Fun House Series 1-2 and Knightmare Series 1-2 from Friday 10th May 2013 were significant as the first showings of Knightmare on free-to-air TV since the 1990s. The continuity announcements by Hugo Myatt made it even better. The Challenge staff's conversations about bringing back Knightmare may well have started at that point.

Challenge did not have the question mark in 2013, having dropped it 10 years earlier.

Librase wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:32 pm
It would be interesting to see how a stage show or purely live-action version would do, especially in the light of the success of web shows like Critical Role (which streams a group of voice actors playing Dungeons and Dragons).
I'm guessing that by 'stage show', Dom Wilkins was referring to Knightmare Live (though there was a play in the '90s with Hugo Myatt and David Learner).

Knightmare Live has been going for six years now and has had a good reception. Its simplicity has worked well in informal, live settings - not least its physical take on the Corridor of Blades - but TV is a different prospect.

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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by AriadnesLayer » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:45 pm

I find the talk about the cost of doing the show today interesting.

I have no doubt that creating the backgrounds and effects may be somewhat costly.

However back in the day of the original Knightmare, by far the biggest cost (as stated repeatedly by Tim Child) was the chromakey technology and the amount of time and money that needed to spent on creating and filming each "scene".

These days, I believe, that side of it would be pennies. Every half-hearted youtuber uses chromakey nowadays, it's as common as mud and certainly in no way expensive.

I don't believe they'd be short of people wanting to be on it and I don't believe they'd be short of viewers so they'd certainly make money from advertisers.

So really, besides the normal production costs of ANY show (paying the actors, crew, editors etc) the only thing that's going to cost any real money is creating the dungeon backgrounds. And that's not going to be anywhere near as expensive as it was in the old days either. Nowhere near. Of course it wouldn't be cheap but I can't imagine it being extravagantly expensive either.

It appears that Dom Wilkins chap worked at Challenge from 2011-2015. Even in the 5 years since then until now, computer generated productions have become so cheap and easy to make compared to 5 years ago.

Again just to reiterate, I'm not saying it would be a piece of cake and cost zilch, but I think now more than ever it really wouldn't cost THAT much.

And let's not forget, you get out what you put in. Knightmare back in the day was extortionate to make, but as a result, it got the viewer numbers necessary to pay it off.

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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by Mystara » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:23 am

These days, I believe, that side of it would be pennies. Every half-hearted youtuber uses chromakey nowadays, it's as common as mud and certainly in no way expensive.
I'm afraid that the cost of doing it properly is ludicrously expensive, even today. Knightmare's use of chromakey isn't a simple background replacement, but a virtual mapping of a vast void onto a three dimensional area.
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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by AriadnesLayer » Sat Mar 21, 2020 5:57 pm

I still don't think that aspect alone would be as challenging financially or technically as it was back then.

My point about youtubers wasn't that what they do is the same as what Knightmare did. You misunderstood.

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Re: Challenge TV 'talked endlessly' about bringing back Knightmare

Post by Mystara » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:38 pm

I still don't think that aspect alone would be as challenging financially or technically as it was back then.
I am one of the few that had some exact numbers regarding the financial costs of both series 8 and geek week. Unless I've missed something the cost hasn't changed (taking inflation into account). The major expenditure arises from the slow filming process, which burns huge amounts of studio time. When you have a crew of 100+ and a full day's work (due to the use of chromakey) only nets you 20 minutes of footage, this is the cost that quickly adds up.

That also answers the point about technical difficulty. If you want some real numbers on that, geek week acquired about 40 minutes of footage (less if you cut the long introduction) and took two looooong days to film. My team's quest (20 years prior) was about 35 minutes (from memory) and filmed over 2.5 much shorter days. In other words, the process today is no quicker.

(Theoretically, it's always been possible to do it quicker by simply assuming that the void will align with the virtual environment. That's what we did at the convention. But you may have noticed that the alignment/perspective was never quite perfect. Therefore, to do it properly, you have to manually align the rooms to the virtual environments, and tinker. This takes time.)

What the pace of technology has done is put basic chromakey into the hands of amateurs. As you say, YouTubers do this endlessly. But it's not comparable because it's not the chromakey itself that costs the money, but more accurately it's the consequences of using chromakey that costs the money.
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