Treguard's unplanned catchphrase has reached a milestone.
It's 30 years since the fourth quest of Series 1 ended in a wrong turn and a deadly chamber. Dungeon master Treguard (Hugo Myatt) had this to say to the team:
Ooh nasty. And I can't imagine why you did it. Take the wrong path I mean.
When Debbie Glover interviewed Knightmare cast and crew in 2002, we learnt that "Ooh nasty" wasn't scripted. It went on to become an essential part of Knightmare.
Often there would be two other parts to a dungeoneer's demise: the final moments of the life force clock and the tolling of the bell. As we and the advisors grappled with our emotions, Treguard's familiar words helped to emphasise that another adventure was well and truly done.
According to the TV Tropes webpage on Knightmare, "Ooh nasty" is 'impossible to describe'. That seems a little defeatist. Because you're probably a Knightmare fan, and we are definitely a Knightmare website, we'd quite like to have a go.
"Ooh nasty" has things in common with another of my favourite concise catchphrases: "Oh boy" from Quantum Leap.
It didn't catch on right away. Series 5 was the first one where every death got an ooh nasty. Alternatives we heard up to that point included "Oh dear, what a pity, never mind", "Ooh, what a terrible mess", "I don't think that was quite the thing to do" and "Ouch".
Series 4 didn't have an ooh nasty at all. Not even when Simon sidestepped to his left. Treguard's response to that was a chuckle.
Different circumstances. One thing was always the same: a quest had ceased to be. Otherwise it was never quite the same: it may have been a brilliant team on the brink of victory, or an irritating bunch who'd blundered on for longer than we wanted.
Treguard was never quite the same either. Early on, he could seem indifferent to the teams' fates; for a while, he was on the side of the dungeon; eventually, he stood for the goodies and didn't want quests to be lost.
Because the situation was never identical, "Ooh nasty" could be delivered differently by Treguard, or at least heard differently by us armchair adventurers.
Was there sympathy or sarcasm? Resignation or relish? Annoyance or amusement? However you interpreted it, the trusty phrase was there to help us make the most of the moment.
"That is nasty"
We've sometimes wondered, on our forum, which was the 'best ooh nasty'. Here are some suggestions from forum members, including links to clips.
Series 2 Team 6
Dungeoneer Akash was dropped into a pit for not bringing an ice pack to a hungover sorceress. (Let that be a lesson to all of you.) It was the end of a faltering journey through Level 1. Treguard's immortal words were accompanied by a slight shake of the head and followed by: "Poor old Akash!"
Series 3 Team 1
Knightmare's only death by quicksand. Treguard demonstrates here that "Ooh nasty" has some of the stretchiest vowels in the history of catchphrases.
Series 3 Team 10
Cornered by goblins, Julie was advised to bribe them with a gemstone. This only served to add comedy to tragedy.
Ooh dear. Ooh that is nasty. I shouldn't look any more if I were you.
Series 6 Team 2
The way Treguard has to look away; the drawn-out n of nasty; how it seems to serve the genuine purpose of telling the advisors that it's all over.
Series 8 Team 2
Spinning blades; panic; blood spatter (like never before on Knightmare).
I've put together an "Ooh nasty" playlist with more official clips.
Famous last words
By Series 8, each "Ooh nasty" was accompanied by theatrical hand gestures. (Not jazz hands though.) For some watchers, it signalled a loss of spontaneity. For other watchers, it was always welcome, especially since Treguard was no longer saying "Enter, stranger" (Majida took that one) or spellcasting DISMISS (change in workplace procedure).
But any watcher who thought we'd heard the last of "Ooh nasty" was wrong.
In 2004, Hugo Myatt (as Treguard) appeared on Dick & Dom in Da Bungalow. After spending two hours in in a cage at the back, the camera zoomed in at the very end for him to say "Ooh nasty". There wasn't a lot of context to it (unless anticlimaxes count).
When Knightmare returned for the YouTube Geek Week special in 2013, so did Treguard and "Ooh nasty". For those of us who'd been waiting to hear it again, the advisors' laughter at their fallen comrade made us wait a little longer.
"Ooh nasty" is woven into the nostalgia of Knightmare Live. It's part of Hugo Myatt's appearances in documentaries. I was quite pleased with myself when I came up with a variation for Treguard enjoying a cuppa: "Ooh nice tea."
Best of all was when Hugo quoted it during our Knightmare Convention at the former Anglia TV studios in 2014. There we were, a room full of people who'd heard "Ooh nasty" through the TV three decades earlier and many times since, hearing it live in the same location. It got a round of applause.
Epic fail? Too exaggerated. Oops? Too understated. To really do justice to a darkly humorous demise, it's got to be...