“Where am I?”
“You’re in a room. There is a table in front of you and a sleeping orc on the right.”
Don’t worry, you’ve not accidentally clicked to go to the chatroom. This is the audio-descriptive world of Knightmare!
Knightmare was a TV show in which children had to remotely navigate a blindfolded, (or helmeted,) contestant through a high-tech CGI dungeon. Each team consisted of 4 children, 3 sat in a friendly dungeon watching the action on a monitor in a studio and one who was in effect blindfolded by a huge helmet and guided around by their mates.
So obscured was their view that they had to rely on the navigation team to tell them simple things like to “Walk forward 2 steps” or “Turn to your right”
Not only would they would encounter live actors to interact with but also, through the magic of computers, entirely imaginary but incredibly scary CGI ones too.
The team in the dungeon were assisted by Treguard, played by Hugo Myatt, a scary bearded dungeon keeper who would provide the team with helpful tips. His sudden shouts of, “WARNING, TEAM!” followed by him pointing out an obvious and imminent danger only added to the excitement. It also really helped that he had the look of someone who owned a dungeon. Piercing eyes which hadn’t seen daylight for months, a slightly dishevelled beard, and a tone of voice which was both authoritative yet worldly. He was the PERFECT character for Knightmare!
The contestant being guided had Life Force, a kind of health gauge, that used to deplete if they were ever attacked, were ever in a room filled with poison or if they hadn’t found food recently. The animation for the life force was in itself quite scary. Firstly, pieces of the helmet would float off. Then, after the helmet had gone, sections of face would come away, exposing the skull. The final stage was when the skull itself, now devoid of skin, came apart leaving just eyes which floated off. After all these had gone, you know the player was a goner!
The scenery for Knightmare was created by artist David Rowe, a man whose work you may be more familiar with that you realise. He worked on many covers for 80s computer games and his artwork is second to none. David is a regular guest at various comiccons and events around the UK, at which you can buy prints of his original Knightmare scenery and computer game posters. In fact, I own one of his Knightmare prints and I love it! David, talking at Play Blackpool in 2015, said he worked closely with the makers of Knightmare to ensure that his artwork lined up perfectly with the green screen studios. If there were steps or a platform in the studio, his artwork had to match the layout but retain the realism.
Knightmare is definitely in my Top 5 TV programmes of all time. Absolute classic 80s TV.