Filming of spyglass sequence in Knightmare geek week

How Knightmare was made

Knightmare was technically complex, especially for a show that was originally devised in the 1980s.


The show was created using chromakey (blue screen) to create an authentic fantasy environment. Initially the illustrations were created by David Rowe and visual effects were added by the Travelling Matte Company.

As the show progressed, these effects became more complex. By the final series, contestants could use a 'reach' wand to interact with elements in the dungeon.

Find out below how the show was made, from the early tests and pilots to the creation of the titles, theme music, visual effects and Smirkenorff the Dragon.

In This Section

All About Smirkenorff

A promotional image of Smirkenorff the Dragon with broader wings set against a mountainous backdrop.

Smirkenorff the Dragon was introduced in Knightmare's fifth series, in 1991. Find out more about how the puppet was created and operated.

Anglia Studio

Anglia house in London

Knightmare was produced by Broadsword for Anglia Television, which holds the franchise to broadcast for ITV in the East of England.

Auditioning for Knightmare

Brown Wooden Armchair on Brown Wooden Floor, by Marcelo Jaboo for Pexels.

Of the thousands of teams that applied to appear on Knightmare, less than 1% made it onto the show. The lucky few who did were chosen by audition.

How Did the Visual Effects Work?

Stiletta (Joanne Heywood) displaying how the bluescreen chromakey void works

The computer graphics and visual effects in Knightmare were edited and controlled by Robert Harris's Travelling Matte Company.

Illustrations

The level one dungeon shield room.

The much-loved handpainted designs of Knightmare's early dungeon rooms were the work of artist and illustrator, David Rowe.

Knightmare Pilot Script

An excerpt from the script of the pilot of Knightmare.

By chance, Billy Hicks came across the original pilot episode of Knightmare and shares it here in all its detail.

Outtakes and Unseen Footage

Knightmare Series 8. Treguard holds an hourglass as he debates whether to begin a final quest.

A showreel of outtakes and unseen backstage footage from Series 8 put to 'Slow Hand' by the Pointer Sisters.

Quest Items

The eyeshield

See images of the original and new Knightmare helmets, the Eye Shields, and the frightknight.

Testing and Pilots

Banner of the Knightmare antechamber set during the pilot episode.

What Tim Child was attempting in the mid-80s had never been done before. It took advanced tests and two pilots before Knightmare was commissioned.

Theme Music

Cover featuring Ed Welch, composer of the Knightmar e theme music.

The iconic Knightmare theme was composed by Ed Welch (born 1947).

Title Sequences

Sketch from the original titles created by Siriol, (with motion film filter applied)

Knightmare's original opening title sequence, which lasted for five of its eight series, was created by animation company Siriol.

Use of Blue Screen in Knightmare

Stiletta (Joanne Heywood) displaying how the bluescreen chromakey void works

Knightmare was made using bluescreen (or chromakey) technology. This is more familiar to us now, but it was technically demanding in the mid-1980s.