If you're (gasp!) not familiar with it, Knightmare was an immensely popular children's TV show in the UK, which aired from 1987 to 1994 on CITV and has been repeated in recent years on Challenge (Freeview channel 47). It was a unique and groundbreaking programme, set in a medieval fantasy world – part gameshow, part comedy-drama, constantly evolving over the course of its 8 series. There are tons of things to love about Knightmare, many of which are even better appreciated through adult eyes.
Teams of children would attempt to complete a quest, which involved one of them (the 'dungeoneer') journeying through a series of magical environments via bluescreen technology. Because this contestant could only see the blue studio and not the superimposed locations, they had to be guided by their friends who were following the adventure on a viewscreen. The quests incorporated all sorts of mental and physical challenges – navigating obstacles, solving riddles and puzzles, answering general knowledge or plot-related questions, choosing objects that may be needed later, casting spells, and interacting with a variety of characters. Very few teams were successful, as mistakes were easily made and usually resulted in the dungeoneer meeting some grisly fate!
Knightmare is a lot of fun to watch – the perils are convincing enough to make for edge-of-seat viewing, you can play along with the quizzes, there's an ever-changing cast of likeable characters, and the programme is frequently hilarious for both scripted and unscripted reasons. Sadly it has never had an official DVD release, but it can often be found on video sharing sites and is well worth checking out!
I first saw the show when I was 4 or 5 years old, and found it terrifying and enthralling in equal measure, with many scenes permanently burned into my memory. It ended when I was 11, and by the time I reached adulthood, I missed it terribly and longed to see it again. Imagine my delight when YouTube came along and I rediscovered all 8 series in the summer of 2010! Thankfully it had aged well and lost none of its original appeal – in fact, I love it more now than I ever did as a kid. :) This also led to me finding the Knightmare discussion forum, where a loyal fan community still exists and is surprisingly active and creative.
My own contributions to the fandom have been scattered all over the place, but many of them can now be found through this page!
Lexicon / Articles
The Interactive Knightmare Lexicon is an online encyclopedia of all things Knightmare, created by Forester in 2004. Any fan can sign up and add to the knowledge base, which is expanding all the time – it's a handy resource and great fun to browse. The entries I've written can all be found here, though some are out of date as I am currently unable to edit them.
I occasionally submitted news items to the old Knightmare website, including:
The rooms in Knightmare were originally hand-painted by artist David Rowe (who has put together a fascinating book of all the artwork and production notes). From the fourth series onward, they instead used footage of real castles and other places in England, Wales and Spain. Issue 30 of The Eye Shield fanzine introduced a feature called Knightmare Locations, in which Jake Collins visited some of them and shared his own photographs of familiar scenes from the show.
Inspired by Jake's efforts, I embarked on a quest to identify all the remaining locations, and eventually found most of them! As well as writing about them in the Lexicon, I've plotted them all on an interactive Google Map. The only ones that have eluded me are these scenes filmed outdoors and on a ship – let me know if you recognise them!
When I get the chance, I enjoy visiting the locations myself and taking photos which I match up with screencaps for comparison – click here to see the ones I've been to.
Two memorable things happened in 1991: one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes released his chart-topping single 'The One And Only', and everyone's favourite Knightmare character Lord Fear was introduced as the main villain. In October 2010, I decided to combine the two in a music video, my first fan creation. I had never used Windows Movie Maker before, and was pleased that it turned out as well as I had imagined. I was particularly tickled by the CGI Brollachan's perfect lip-synching to one line, which was entirely accidental but very appropriate! As a surprise bonus, the actor Mark Knight got to see the video and contacted me to express his approval. :D
I made another fanvid in July 2012, set to the early U2 single A Celebration. The song appeared on a DVD I was watching, and when the "walls of Jericho" line reminded me of Knightmare, I suddenly noticed how many of the lyrics would fit together with clips from the show! (It was also a great excuse to promote this criminally underrated track.) The musical montage seemed a nice way to celebrate the programme's 25th anniversary that year.
Speaking of which... while you're on YouTube, be sure to watch the 25th Anniversary Documentary by James Aukett, featuring interviews with a selection of the cast, crew and contestants. I was very excited about this project and offered a few suggestions, which James kindly thanked me for in the credits.
Don't miss the "official" Knightmare music video, Slow Hand, made up of behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes from Series 8!
The Knightmare Fanfic Compendium (or KFC) contains links to all the fan stories I've found online. They were published in many different places, often in instalments, and no-one had put together a detailed index before. I compiled the list in 2011 so I could read them all in chronological order, then uploaded it for the benefit of other fans. I keep it up-to-date and have added alphabetical title and author lists. You will also find links to the audio projects and roleplay forums run by members of the KM community. Thanks to David for his suggestions, including the name of the page!
Before I read anyone else's fanfic, I wrote one of my own – The March Of Progress, completed in December 2010. It was my way of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms when I had no more episodes left to watch, and was simply my vision of a fantasy 9th series, where unwelcome changes were fixed and my favourite departed characters made a comeback! There's a mixture of stuff from different seasons, along with some original innovations. It was the first fanfic I ever published, and I didn't know much about good writing techniques at the time, so it's pretty amateurish – but I had fun dreaming it up, and some people have told me they enjoyed reading it. I'm still fond of the humorous dialogue in places!
Another silly thing I wrote was Caei's Quest in November 2011. Caei was an amusingly eccentric bot who used to appear in the Knightmare chat room on IRC. One week I made a passing remark about how she'd be difficult to write as a fanfic character... and then found myself thinking of funny ways to use her catchphrases in a typical Knightmare quest. Thus a whole spoof script was born, with Caei as the dungeoneer and the other bots as her teammates (along with a chat room 'Guest' she often mysteriously mentioned). It's full of in-jokes and will make no sense if you weren't a regular visitor back then. :p
After a gap of almost a decade, I had a sudden burst of creativity in April/May 2021 and wrote three short fanfics in the space of four weeks, inspired by the Knightmare Top Trumps cards that were published in the official newsletter The Quest. The first story Collateral Damage suggests how one character's tragic demise could have been linked to a clue object used in Series 1 and 4. The second, A Royal Romance, is set near the end of Series 2 and attempts to explain Gretel's bizarre actions after leaving the show. It unexpectedly led to a sequel called Hammered, set five years later in the aftermath of the Series 7 finale. Feedback is welcome if you read any of them.
Published in January 2022, Disguises is an experiment in describing part of a televised quest from the perspective of the non-player character. It was originally drafted in 2013 and resurrected during a stressful time when I needed something to keep my mind occupied.
A new story called Woodland Trust was developed in the autumn of 2022, after Amazon Prime series The Rings Of Power reignited my Tolkien geekery and prompted me to revisit some old dialogue ideas that didn't have a plot to go with them. You'll appreciate it more if you've read the Knightmare books by Dave Morris, especially 'The Labyrinths Of Fear'.
At the same time, I came across a 12-year-old idea for a funny scene inspired by 'Adventure Time' in The Eye Shield (written by Paul McIntosh, Jake Collins and others). I couldn't resist finally writing it, which resulted in The Lady In Red. I conceived it before I'd read the second quest season of Adventure Time, so you'll have to excuse it being incompatible with that instalment.
I've been working on another fanfic since early 2011, but the initially simple idea grew to epic proportions and the whole thing needs a brutal rewrite, so I don't know when it might be ready to share. I also have lots more fanfic ideas at various stages of planning – the problem is finding the time to actually write them all!
There's a whole subsection of the Knightmare forum dedicated to writing song parodies (or 'filks'), which happens to be something I've dabbled in over the years. Here are the ones I've written about the show:
At least one member of the cast is a gifted singer-songwriter too. I love Drops Of Glittering Hope, a 2004 album released by Jules Bryant who played Gwendoline and Aesandre in Series 5. You can stream a handful of tracks for free: Winds Of Change, Her Heart, My Blue Heaven and Hold My Hand.
I played around with a South Park character creator in 2010-2011, trying to cartoonify some of the Knightmare cast – the results can be seen here!
Click here for some silly image macros I posted on the Knightmare forum in 2013.