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Knightmare was an innovative and popular UK television programme for children, produced by Broadsword Productions for Anglia Television and was broadcast on ITV from 7 September 1987 to 11 November 1994. The show is most noted for its pioneering use of blue screen chroma key (the idea borrowed by Tim Child from its then-current usage in weather forecasts) and advanced use of 'virtual reality' interactive gameplay on television - it also further popularised the medieval-style fantasy games craze of the 1980s popularised by the likes of Dungeons & Dragons.



The show featured teams of four children (around 11–16 years old). On the call of "Enter, Stranger", the first member of the team (the "dungeoneer") would enter Knightmare Castle via an antechamber belonging to Treguard of Dunshelm (played by Hugo Myatt).[1] After giving his or her name, the dungeoneer would be asked by Treguard to call their three advisors, who would magically appear next to the viewing apparatus beside them (though, in Series 8, all members of the team appeared at once). Before entering the dungeon, the dungeoneer would be given a knapsack to wear, in which they were to place food found along the way, in order to replenish Life Force (see below). In addition, the "Helmet of Justice" was put on the dungeoneer's head, blocking their vision except for the area immediately around them. The story was that this was to protect the dungeoneer from seeing the real danger ahead.

The dungeoneer would then enter Treguard's partly computer-generated, partly hand-drawn fantasy dungeon which was accomplished through bluescreen chromakey—hence the need for the helmet, as the dungeoneer would otherwise just see a large blue room. The team would watch the dungeoneer from a screen in the antechamber, and guide the player using hurried descriptions and shouted instructions, overcoming a variety of puzzles and traps in the dungeon. The instructions might be "Sidestep left, walk forward, take a small step to your right, pick up the key", much like many text-based computer games (for example the appropriately named "multi-user dungeons") that relied on description and commands rather than any visuals.

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