Circular saws. Disappearing floors. A too-leisurely approach to picking up some bread. Dyslexia. Any number of things could kill a dungeoneer in CITV’s Knightmare.
It didn’t matter how carefully a team’s mums had ironed their coordinated pastel short-sleeved shirts, or how diligently they made notes on their clipboards, the life of a dungeoneer was nasty, brutish and short. One false move was all it took for Treguard to emit an “ooh, nasty”, spell-cast D.I.S.M.I.S.S and send the questers back to Burton Upon Trent with their bum bags at half-mast.
Here are a selection of the long-running show’s most memorable deaths (sadly not including the brilliant Julie, whose valiant attempt to dissuade a bunch of goblins from killing her by offering them “a good present” was unsuccessful, because I couldn’t find a clip).
Poor Chris. He’s cast a spell to turn himself into a goblin, failed to locate Motley for the password, and, when his team attempt to use the causeway pattern as said password, he even says that in the wrong order. Judging from the moment of silent understanding that passes between two team mates at 0:27, this lot knew they were done for the moment Wall-Face speaks. All that paper shuffling is just delaying the inevitable.
This poor lass fell foul of the Queen of the Arachnids all for the want of a spider-hibernating spell from Merlin. The team’s dismissal wins a place for the seconds of glowering silence between the contestants that follow their dungeoneer’s panicked death at 0:40. That must have been an awkward coach journey home.
“Where is the horn to bring down the Walls of Jericho?”
This is what happens when dungeoneers a) don’t pay attention in Sunday School and b) aren’t psychic. Richard didn’t realise that his ultimate challenge would be felling the Wall of Jericho, which required use of a horn his team chose not to pick up in the previous room. The injustice of this one lived through the weekend and made itself felt in the Monday morning playground, I remember. Questing once again proved itself a cruel, cruel mistress.
“Do you think we should touch the Five of Clubs?”
No, you shouldn’t touch the Five of Clubs. You should touch the Queen of Hearts, which is what Treguard is doing his level best to tell you. The lesson of this Knightmare death is that sometimes you can be too clever for your own good. This team looked for a far more complicated pattern than ‘all the hearts’. “I’ve touched it now” said Simon, with admirable fatalism. Yes, Simon, yes you have.
“Matt, you’re in a room and there’s a puzzle on the floor”
Despite a flamboyently mimed fall, there’s nothing particularly memorable about Matt’s plummeting death on the puzzle causeway (the site of many a brave dungeoneer’s demise). What earns it a place on this list then, are the ice-cold attitude poses struck by his crew on their way out of Castle Knightmare at 0:57 in this clip. Fierce.
“I have a magic horn, which you can blow”
These playas had game. Despite not having the gold required to bribe their way past Goblin Master Skarkill, they attempted to convince him that by blowing on their magic horn, all his dreams would come true. Skarkill was no dupe though, and when he made them blow their own horn, they realised its only magic was of the goblin-calling variety. “I’m going to put my irons on you…”
“Becca stop! No! Back a bit! Walk forward!”
Top “ooh, nasty” from Treguard here as Becca walks slap-bang into a Mer-Man following a less-than-calm set of instructions from her advisers, whose best Tammy Girl outfits weren’t even enough to save them.
“Cooked or raw?”
After Motley abandoned him, there was nothing for this dungeoneer to do but stand there and be barbecued by this well-spoken CG dragon. Probably the best “Ooh, nasty” of the lot here.
“This can only be the entrance to the dreaded corridor of blades”
The instruction-issuing kid here starts off with the calming reassurance of a 999 telephone operator. “Daniel, we’re going to go into the corridor of blades and you’re going to have to bear with us, okay?”. It’s that kind of control that probably brought this lot all the way to Level 3. It wasn’t to last. As soon as those blades start whirring, panic sets in and before long it’s a classic Knightmare “Left! Right! Right! Right! Oh.” exit.
“Pickle, you’re not by any chance, crying?”
Two lessons here: don’t dally when it comes to picking up items of sustenance, and always learn the sequence to the causeway. That’s what did for previously high-achieving Sophia and pals.
“Nice of you to drop in”
A bad hair day is what does for this dungeoneer, specifically Lilith’s bad hair day. Instead of picking up the comb she would have accepted as payment for walking down her snake’s tongue, they chose a bar of useless soap.
“You’re in a bomb room, Danny”
Treguard does rub it in a bit after these chaps choose the wrong path and end up sharing a room with a massive cartoon bomb for roughly as long as it takes to blow them to bits, but they probably deserved it.
“Life force energy looooow”
Oh, the pathos of the pointlessly cast Knightmare spell. One wrong riddle, one wrong turning and this Welsh team scuppered their chances of winning the Scythe of Lakeland or whatever it was they were after. D.I.S.M.I.S.S.E.D.
“We’re in what appears to be the Hall of Spears…”
This one’s as tense as you like. Ben’s frustratingly small steps and his team’s dilatory approach to getting him started on the puzzle get the clock ticking right away. By the time that Ogre appears and blocks our view of this unsuccesful dungeoneer, they don’t stand a chance.
“It’s never safe to stray from the path, team”
These Scottish challengers take their pal Gavin’s demise endearingly on the chin. He steps into quicksand, they hang their heads for the briefest of moments, and then it’s big smiles all round. Good lads.
“Simon, there are two goblins in there and they’re stalking around so just stand still”
Invisibility amulets can be a double-edged sword, as Simon’s long walk off this short cliff proves. Point of discussion: why are all dungeoneers called Simon?
“Simon, sidestep to your left”
Saving the best for last, here is series four Welsh team comprising Simon and advisers Andrew, Richard and Andrew. They had reached level two on their quest for the sword in 1990 when a simple direction cock-up sent their dungeoneer plummeting to his now-infamous death. In the words of Pickle, “So much for Welsh wizardry, master.”