Knightmare: Why they should reboot it

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If you were born in the late ’70’s or early ’80s chances are you’ll remember a show called Knightmare. Created by Tim Child for CITV, Knightmare was an adventure game show aimed at children between 8-16 in which one player donned “the Helmet of Justice” and was guided through a sword and sorcery themed virtual world by the other three contestants who acted as advisers. Overseeing the adventurers’ progress was a Saxon knight named Treguard (Hugo Myatt) who acted as a presenter and master of ceremonies for the show. Knightmare was known for being incredibly difficult, with TV Tropes reporting that only 8 teams from the show’s 7 year run actually completed the dungeon. Given the popularity of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones it would seem that people are still interested in medieval fantasy which I why I feel that Knightmare should be given another shot. But how should ITV update this classic for a modern audience? Here are some of my thoughts:

 

David Suchet as Treguard

David Suchet has the right air of mystery and authority to play the Dungeon Master in my view. His work on Doctor Who has shown that he can be genial, fatherly and slightly terrifying which are the qualities I think that Treguard needs. I was tempted to suggest Michael Gambon for this role as he would already have a fanbase from Harry Potter but I feel that David Suchet has the quiet steeliness and inscrutability to portray Treguard better. I would also really like to hear him say “It’s only a game… or is it?”

 

Dan Stevens as Lord Fear

The reason I think Dan Stevens would be a good Lord Fear is his portrayal of David Haller as a corrupt billionaire in chapter 14 of Legion. Depending on which way they go with the character he could be an authoritative dark lord like Mark Knight’s original version of Lord Fear or possibly a more conniving, unhinged character that would highlight the positive qualities of David Suchet’s Treguard. I can imagine full-length portraits of a Dan Stevens Lord Fear in an updated series of Knightmare that interact with the Dungeoneer like the Brollachan or the Dreadnought did in the original series.

In the original Knightmare, the “dungeoneer” was rendered sightless by the Helmet of Justice and relied on the other three participants to be their eyes in the world of the game. With the massive leaps forward in virtual reality technology over the 26 years since Knightmare has aired it’s entirely possible that there would no longer be any need for the player to have a team around them. Perhaps if the show was rebooted for the modern audience players could learn magic from a friendly wizard, and actually throw fireballs or lightning if a modern Helmet of Justice incorporated mixed reality technology. Dungeoneers of the 21st century could fight dragons with magic swords, or lull them to sleep with mystical flutes.

The only problem with this kind of setup is that it would remove the collaborative nature of Knightmare’s original series. Players needed to have their wits about them at all times when venturing through the Dungeon, and a wrong choice or a careless remark to one of the characters they encountered would spell their doom. It would be a challenge I think for ITV creatives to come up with a compromise that made use of technology’s advances but retained the need for ingenuity in an updated version of Knightmare. Perhaps this could be solved by some virtual characters being unreliable, or merely illusions cast by a sorcerer (Lord Fear perhaps), or there being a great deal of ambiguity as to who can be trusted in Knightmare regardless of whether they were a real actor or just a virtual sprite. This could be a reason to have a group of players helping the adventurer through the Dungeon, and for Treguard to give advice and hints.

This is what I’d like to see in a rebooted series of Knightmare. How would you reimagine the show? Did you watch Knightmare during its original run? Please leave a comment below and remember, time turns, the path is open, and the greater game has begun…

I'm a writer on the autistic spectrum who loves sci-fi, cosplay and poetry. I'm also an actor with Theatre of the Senses.
    3 Comments on this post.

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  • raissadevereux
    6 January 2020 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    That was really lovely. I’m in a wheelchair (Cerebral Palsy). If I were rebooting the game, I’d make it as accessible as possible so kids in wheelchairs could be dungeoneers. I’d also bring in actors who knew sign language so that deaf people could play too. Of course, blind contestants would already be used to being guided.

  • raissadevereux
    6 January 2020 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Almost forgot. Deaf Dungeoneers would also require the guidance to be communicated visually like with the TTY phone system.

  • Dominic Walsh
    7 January 2020 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Thanks Raissa! Those are great ideas. I think a Knightmare that’s updated for a modern audience could be huge.

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