Series 8, Quest 1. Dungeoneer, Richard Howse.

Richard Howse and Team (1994)

By Keith McDonald

Three members from the first team of Series 8 describe their Knightmare audition and the experience of filming the show.


Richard Howse

I was a late invite to join a trio of girls. Great, I thought. I'd always enjoyed Knightmare to my (then) age of 15. We had been invited down to Leicester Square in London for an audition.

We had an introduction with Tim Child and one of his production staff. Tim seemed pleased with us as a group, and all we needed to do was get through the audition. We were on the edge of our seats.

Knightmare Series 8 Team 1. Richard, the dungeoneer.
Richard Howse

The audition

(This was all verbal and had to be pictured in our heads.)

It is night. You are at the top of a hill. Down to the east is a great river, whose opposite bank is lost in the dark mists. On this side of the river is a small but empty jetty. To the north, down the hill, there is a cave.

We chose to enter the cave. Inside we found a table containing a gold bar, knife, horn, a grappling hook with rope, and pie. We could only take one item.

It was the team's debating/argument moment - the same kind that led to our downfall on the show. I had to force the issue, telling them we should take the horn. It could be used as a horn or traded as an expensive or ancient artefact. Fortunately, my team listened.

We left the cave and found ourselves at the deserted jetty. No boat - nobody. No sign of land on the other side and everyone growling at me for not choosing the grappling hook we could have used to cross to the other side of the river (which we could not see anyway).

Our only option was to use the horn. A lone figure in a boat appeared out of the gloom and we crossed the river, handing over the horn as payment (pretending it was some expensive relic, as I had suggested).

And that was it. We had crossed the river, completed our goal and passed the test. Tim was pleased with us and we were on our way to Knightmare.

The recording

Series 8 Team 1 in antechamber before quest
Richard's team in the antechamber

We had trouble before we began. Angel, our dungeoneer, dropped out a week before going because she was getting bullied at school about it.

We tried to get someone else to take her place, but the Knightmare crew said the team had to be those who took the audition.

Rebecca and Rowena were both screaming down the phone at the woman to let us go, and we eventually 'persuaded' them.

With failing at the first level - quite embarrassing really!

Tim had given us the rules of the dungeon, which clearly stated "Aggression breeds aggression - steer clear of weapons!" So, being fools, we thought "KEEP AWAY FROM WEAPONS!!!"

And hence we ventured into the dungeon... after filming me descending into the dungeon and repeatedly banging my head on the portcullis.

Series 8 Quest 1 - Dungeoneer Richard entering the dungeon from the antechamber
Richard prepares to enter the dungeon

The first table had, amongst other things, a green dagger. We spent about 30 mins arguing about it. Rebecca and Rowena were at it hammer and tongs about taking the knife (all cut from the final edit), and in the end we didn't because of what we had been told.

Later, I was stood over a chest brimming with jewels and an Amazon warrior leapt out, her blade at my throat, and only her bosoms viewable from beneath my helmet. She wanted to know what I was doing. I said, "Just admiring your chest" (cut from the edit!)

See Joanne Heywood's recollection of events.

A discussion ensued about getting her to go with us, but she wouldn't as she was looking for her missing green dagger.

Talk about sinking hearts! We had to progress the next day to Motley the Jester, with the crew aware that we had already failed. That was the worst part.

Motley (played by Paul Valentine) with Richard, first dungeoneer of Knightmare Series 8 (1994).
The team release Motley the Jester

Motley did not stay long at the end of the first level as the sound of a dragon descended. My microphone was cut off as the fireball engulfed me. Like a plum, I stood there - quite surreal really - listening to licking flames and the voice of the dragon talking about fricasseed human!

In the end, I wasn't fussed about losing. I was sad that it had to end, and slightly angry that we had fooled ourselves into following the guidelines we had been given, but I let go easier than the others, especially Rebecca and Rowena (who argued in the taxi home).

The crew wouldn't let us re-film because:

  1. It didn't matter about the rules.
  2. I guess it was our own decisions to make.
  3. The next team were already waiting to go.
  4. The first team in a series can't win (or so I continue to tell myself).

In the end it's not about winning. I take pride in the photos we got. I must admit though that I missed the rest of the series, seeing that the second team beat the dungeon! Grr!

[Not quite accurate. See how they got on.]

It twisted the knife a little more, especially as it gave the kids at school something else to moan at us about. Still - I went and did something special they would never do, and no one can take that away.

February 2001

Rebecca / Rowena

In 2016, advisors Rebecca and Rowena discussed their Knightmare application, audition and filming on the Time for Cakes and Ale podcast.

Knightmare Series 8 Team 1. The advisors: Angela, Rebecca and Rowena.
Rebecca (middle) and Rowena (right) on Knightmare

After their London audition, the team was initially accepted on to a different Broadsword show (believed to be Virtually Impossible). They were later reinstated to Knightmare.

Rebecca and Rowena explain some of the mitigating circumstances that led to such a short quest in terms of airtime.

Before they began, they had been given the adventurers' code, which they read carefully. But one of its main instructions (to be wary of weapons) clashed with their first major decision - whether or not to take a knife.

A lengthy discussion citing the code was almost completely cut from the final broadcast. Their deliberations also seemed to raise some sympathy for them among the production crew - but to no avail.

There is a lot of editing goes on... I think if you saw everything, you wouldn't be headsmacking. You'd actually feel a little bit sorry for us.

Rowena

December 2016

A signed cast card with Richard Howse and team (Series 8, Team 1).
Signed photocard of Richard and team

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