My Fantasy DVD: Knightmare Series 1
There are certain activities that are both enjoyable and depressing. And coming up with Fantasy DVDs is one of them. Of course, the ratio of enjoyable/depressing varies, depending on how likely the release is...
So in the first of an occasional series, here's my fantasy DVD for Series 1 of the classic CITV series Knightmare. I've tried to keep it to things that are relevant to the first series - there's loads of stuff I haven't mentioned, like the 1992 unbroadcast US pilot, but things like that would be more suited to later series.
(Incidentally, for all you ever need to know about series (most of the information in this article is nicked directly from there), visit Knightmare.com - one of the best fansites on the net full stop. I'm fairly proud of Ganymede & Titan, but that site puts it well in the shade.)
The Episodes: Obviously. Eight episodes, broadcast between 7th September and 26th October 1987, all on Mondays. With the original Anglia Knight endcaps please, rather than the triangular version as used on the Sci-Fi channel repeats a few years back.
Chromakey Tests: Of course, with a show as technically complex as this, there had to be pilots. And, indeed, pre-pilots. In 1985/6, in Anglia's Studio A, some chromakey (or bluescreen) test were conducted to test various aspects of the show. You know, seeing as nobody had ever done anything like it before, it seemed a good idea. Remember when ITV made children's programmes like that?
Some of this fascinating footage is on Knightmare.com (how many other fansites have things like this?) - but there will be far more existing than that clip. Depending on how much footage exists, including all of it could be impractical, and 99% of people would just get bored - but a longer compilation, possibly with commentary by Tim Childs, would be lovely.
Dungeon Doom Pilot The first 15 minute pilot, with the players being Tim Child's nephew, the two daughters of someone else at Anglia, and one of her friends; and including Hugo Myatt as Treguard. No clips of this have escaped into the wider fan community, and this could possibly be the most brilliant thing that could be included. Along with...
Knightmare Pilot: ...this. Yep, a second pilot, made later in 1986, this time given the name Knightmare, with the opening titles we all know and love. Again, no clips of this have been shown anywhere, so the release of this is a tantalising prospect.
Launching Knightmare Documentary: Pfft. You know the drill. It doesn't have to be anything hugely expensive (although with DVD budgets, anything seems relatively expensive...) - just interviews with people like Tim Childs (Creator/Producer), Hugo Myatt (Tregard), David Rowe (who did the dungeon illustrations), Robert Harris (Computer Animation), Sally Freeman (Director), Mary Miller (Lillith), Alec Westwood (Folly), Guy Standeven (Olgarth/Granitas) - and, of course, some of the dungeoneers and advisers. Intersperse some of that little lot with clips from the show, and the pilots/tests, and you've got a great docco on the first series.
Commentaries: Ideally, you'd like all the people I mention above, in groups of two or three, on each episode. And this is a Fantasy DVD, after all. But I'll let slip that I'd be fairly happy with just Tim Childs jabbering on over a couple of the eps. If the budget wouldn't stretch to a proper recording studio, with a bit of ingenuity you can do it with a home computer and a microphone - and the quality isn't embarassingly inferior.
One thing that could work very well is a fan commentary - there are a number of extremely knowledgable fans in the Knightmare community, with some interesting opinions on how the show works, what they love about it, what they didn't like, and so on.
Kellyvision: This was a show made by Tyne-Tees, and presented by Chris Kelly. Looking behind-the-scenes of various TV shows (and what I wouldn't give to see all of them now), they went behind the scenes of the first series of Knightmare. You can find info about it and even download the complete five minute clip on Knightmare.com - but it would be nice to have it in vaguely watchable quality on DVD.
Whilst we're on the subject of other programmes, there's also the stuff on Knightmare The 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows. I doubt it would be worth clearing to be honest - who wants to pay money to see Iain Lee's face and pathetic opinions? - but for completeness, it should be mentioned.
Continuity: This could be interesting. Now, I love idents more than your average person, and can't get enough of continuity in general... but ITV, in 1987 (indeed, up until 1993), had IVC - in-vision continuity, with Gary Terzza and Debbie Shore. As usual, Knightmare.com has screengrabs.
I imagine this could be expensive to clear, but it would be worth it. It would be so, so worth it. Just imagine how nostalgic it would be to see them again. I doubt much broadcast quality stuff exists, but stuff clearly exists on VHS.
Gallery: There's the obvious production photos you could have here, of course - but there's also stuff like David Lowe's original painted rooms. And it's the kind of series that will have had a lot of design work put into it - this could potentially be huge, with a bit of rummaging.
Other stuff: Who knows what else is lurking in the archives? The complete Life Force sequence must exist, it was used so much. (For all we know, there may even be test animations for it...) There also must have been trailers, it being a relatively expensive series (£50,000 an episode at the time).
So,coming back down to earth... is any of this likely? Well, Granada Media (who now own the rights to any possible Knightmare commercial release) were looking into a release in 2003 - DVD releases are cheaper to produce than VHS ones, and there was hope that a release would happen, including extras. Sadly, despite petitions, this seems to have stalled; the powers that be seem to have decided that it would have a minority audience, and so is not worth doing.
Personally, I think they're very wrong - Knightmare is one of the best-remembered and most-loved TV shows for a whole generation of people, and I think they're sorely underestimating how many people would buy it. Like Red Dwarf, it wouldn't just be the hardcore fans - I think it would have far wider appeal. We can but hope that they will realise this one day - but I'd say that now is the ideal time, when people who watched the show are still in their 20s, and have that nostalgia. You only have to look at the stats for Knightmare.com when Knightmare appeared on The 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows (linked to on that page) for the proof of this.
As for how likely the above list of extras is - well, obviously, we'd never get all of it. I think certainly, the two pilots could be included - and they would be the most important extras in any case. The docco I think could be a sticking point - it would be so nice to have, but expensive for a DVD budget. Still, there are people in the fan community willing to do things for free, and who have experience in video work - perhaps they could be involved to keep the budget at a managable level.
I would say, despite some fan pessimism, that a commercial release of Knightmare is inevitable. Whether that will happen on DVD, or perhaps online, is another matter...