Banner of the Knightmare antechamber set during the pilot episode.

Testing and Pilots

By Keith McDonald

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.


The initial chromakey experiments began in 1985. In May 1986, some crew members were recorded walking around one of David Rowe's dungeon rooms in Anglia TV's Studio A.

Crew from Anglia setting the table during one of the chromakey tests.
A crew member sets the table

The test includes projecting a wall monster onto the back wall. The face is generated from a prop on the table/wellway.

Crew from Anglia watches on as a face appears in the  opposite wall during a chromakey test.
A wall monster appears

The crew member tries poking at the apparition with a sword. The monster keeps appearing and disappearing during the tests.

Crew from Anglia climb inside the wellway prop during one of the chromakey tests.
The crew member emerges from the well

Some talkback from the gallery can be heard describing how much studio space would be required for different types of rooms.

DownloadClip of the Anglia testing. (5.08MB)

Pilots

The first pilot, Dungeon Doom, was also filmed in 1986. It was hosted by Hugo Myatt.

The team was formed of Tim Child's nephew, two daughters of an Anglia colleague and one of their friends.

The second pilot was filmed on 27 and 28 January 1987. It was given new opening titles and additional life-force graphics. The name is changed to Knightmare.

The name Knightmare seemed to say it all about a scary dungeon game which used a knight's helmet as a blindfold.

Tim Child

Treguard (Hugo Myatt) with the dungeoneer from the Knightmare pilot episode.
Hugo Myatt fronts the pilot episode

The second pilot has clear similarities with the first quest shown in Knightmare.

The cast was Hugo Myatt as Treguard, Mary Miller as Lillith, Guy Standeven as Olgarth, and Richard Bonehill as 'Monk Monster' (which later became Cedric).

The contestants were Patrick Goff, Andrew Lloyd, Joe Smith and Eleanor Tremain (making her fifth television appearance).

The set of Knightmare at the beginning.
The team from the second pilot

The introduction of the dungeoneer and the explanation of the rules echo the first episode of Knightmare. The sequence of rooms and clues also correspond closely with the first quest.

The theme tune was listed at Betrayal (Sorcerer's Theme) by Tangerine Dream.

DownloadPilot script (3.09MB)

About the pilot script

Lords of the Game

A pilot episode was also made for the US market, titled Lords of the Game. This was shot at Anglia in 1992, just after filming for Series 6 had ended.

The British cast was retained except for Hugo Myatt, who was replaced by an American actor. American contestants came from the US air base in Mildenhall, Suffolk.

However, the US production companies were still unsure about the technical complexity of chromakey production at that stage.

The NTSC colour encoding system used in the US for analogue output posed risks for an experimental formula that relied on chromakey. There was no commission.

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