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Dungeoneers & Dragons

On one of my rare visits to your dimension (disguised, of course: it wouldn't do to turn up in AD 1994 dressed in an old robe and carrying a spellbook, now would it?) I managed to gain insights into how it feels to be actually 'playing' the game of Knightmare, and how those who are about to enter the dungeon feel.

DanielTeam

Playing The Game

Team two: Four boys from North West London were happy to regale me with tales of their adventures so far. They were the second team of the series, and were well into Level Three when we spoke...

"We're just taking things scene by scene," says Benjamin Grossman, remarkably calmly for a member of a team who are having such a hectic adventure. This attitude to the game seems to be shared by his team mates, however. They tell me that they want to win but that they're trying to keep this in the back of their minds. "If we don't win then we still had an amazing experience," says dungeoneer Daniel Sacker.

Nevertheless, there's no doubt that these boys really do want to complete their quest. Gideon Morrison-Wood, their guider, affirms this, and from what I've seen so far he's pretty much in charge. Without ruining your enjoyment of the forthcoming series, a highlight is sure to be the floor puzzle scene in Level One which was characterised by Gideon's shrill cries of "Oh my God" each time a fireball took out a piece of the floor near to where his dungeoneer was standing. "He stepped over a block and a fireball hit it at the same moment; that was a near miss," remembers Gideon.

Lord Fear Shocker

Despite such near-calamitous moments, the boys think they're doing well, although Daniel mentions ominously that "things pop up when you least expect it." When asked about favourite parts of their adventure so far he simply says "everything" while fourth member Justin Kett says that he liked "meeting different characters". Benjamin mentions Sylvester Hands and Daniel wakes up to tell me about their encounter. He took a potion which turned him into Lord Fear: "That gave them a shock," he says, pointing to his friends. "Then Sylvester Hands started polishing my boots and then he took me to the Sewers of Goth." They all show me their impressions of Sylvester, and we agree Gideon's is the best, although thankfully he hasn't quite got the smell off to a T.

As for other characters, they say that meeting Stiletta was "really nice" (although Daniel is horrified to think that I will print his remark that he was "staring at her legs for five minutes"). They describe dealing with other new character Maldame as "like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone" and Gideon remarks that she was "very aggressive and hostile." Daniel simply says that she "strikes a hard bargain."

New elements in Knightmare are also mentioned. The team like the new set, but they think that Lord Fear's new alarm system, whereby dungeoneers are dispatched by a fireball should they peek for too long in the eyeglass [spyglass], is "very difficult - they now have to be chucked away very quickly or you're dead!"

I ask them if they have anything else they would like to say, and they respond by saying simply what a great week they've had, and that Knightmare is "a really good programme". Finally they even admit that it can still be scary at 12...

How Does It Feel?

NathanTeam

Team three were waiting to enter the Dungeon when I caught up with them. They were from Southampton and consisted of two girls, Karen Gosling and Katherine Olding; and two boys, Nathan Coppen, the dungeoneer, and Steven Szymanski. I asked them about their hopes and aspirations for the coming adventure.

Well Equipped

"We were very nervous, but once we saw the scenery it was OK," says Nathan. The team explain, however, that they think that they're quite well equipped, as they've "all done acting and things." They also read role-playing games and Knightmare gamebooks as well as watching programmes like Doctor Who and Crystal Maze. They tell me that they've all been watching Knightmare since it began, and as they are all twelve this means since the age of four!

The team's strategy is, like their predecessors, to take things "one scene at a time." They are concerned about different aspects of the game, however. Nathan hates the idea of "things chasing the dungeoneer" (i.e. him) while Katherine is concerned about the first scene and Steven and Karen are worried about picking the wrong clue objects in clue rooms.

Surprisingly, none of them is too worried about floor puzzles. All the team are now feeling tense but as Nathan says, "we've met Treguard and Majida and they're really nice, not fierce".

The four are now looking forward to beginning their adventure, especially Karen. "I'd like us to meet Sidriss," she says.

Eyeshield

Cliff Barry will be appearing in that excellent programme TimeBusters, enjoying a belated honeymoon and then envisages a hopefully short period of waiting for the phone to ring.

Hugo Myatt is appearing in House On The Cliff in Yeovil from September 27th and then from just before Christmas stars as King Rat in the panto Dick Whittington at the Princess Theatre in Torquay.

Bill Cashmore (Snapper-Jack/Bhal-Shebah/Honesty Bartram) has had many TV appearances in programmes such as The Bill, All Creatures Great and Small, Dancing Queen, Meat and Grange Hill. He works in a comedy double act with Andy Powrie and they are regular guests on ITV's Gimme 5. Bill writes comedy for stage and TV and has appeared at many theatres up and down the country.

Playing Snapper-Jack in Knightmare has been great fun and very scary.

Having just completed his sixth series of Knightmare, Paul Valentine is off to the sun (without Sylvester or Motley) and is looking forward to starring alongside Letitia Dean and June Brown of Eastenders in The Sleeping Beauty at the newly refurbished Lyceum Theatre in Crewe.

Joanne Heywood (Stiletta) has appeared in many stage productions including the world debut of Scrooge - The Musical. She has also made many TV appearances in programmes like First of the Summer Wine and Grace and Favour for the BBC and The New Statesman for Yorkshire. Joanne has also made various advertisements and is currently filming a new series of Artrageous, also for the BBC. After this she is off to Northampton's Royal Theatre for productions of A Christmas Carol and The Sleeping Beauty.

Jackie Sawiris (Majida) is currently working on a devised play based on a Spanish story from the 1500s for Half-Masked productions. This will be toured in the Cambridge/Peterborough area from September to October. She will then probably work on a Gothic Horror film in the autumn. Next year she will be assistant director on a Theatre project with Bristol Old Vic and German Theatre School students. The play is about the Holocaust.

After Knightmare Series 8, Clifford Norgate has just recorded a children's audio book called Earthfasts by William Mayne. He is also involved with the new Norwich Playhouse.

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