Child's play: The Edinburgh Festival shows cashing in on TV nostalgia

Knightmare Live The cult children's TV show Knightmare was first broadcast on ITV in 1987

There's a hint of nostalgia in the air at this year's Edinburgh Festival - with a number of shows that draw on cult TV programmes and personalities of the past.

Some are so popular, they've even persuaded fans to dig deep and allow them to be staged through crowd-funding websites.

In a dungeon deep beneath the city, Lord Fear reigns.

Knightmare Each episode of Knightmare saw a child guided through a computer-generated dungeon by two friends

Only a brave dungeoneer can don the helmet of justice and embark on a quest to reclaim the crown...

Well ok, so this is actually the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh.

And unless you're a child of the 80s, that probably won't have meant anything to you.

Start Quote

I think 10-year-old me would have totally freaked out today”

End Quote Comedian Timothy Goose

Because the 20 and 30-somethings in the audience are here to experience a flashback to a cult TV programme from their youth.

The show was called Knightmare, and it was first broadcast on ITV in 1987.

Each episode saw a child navigated through a computer-generated dungeon by two friends.

The stage show 'Knightmare Live', was the brainchild of comedians Paul Flannery and Tom Bell.

"I was in a pub with some friends talking about what would make a good Edinburgh show, and we were going through things like Funhouse, or the Crystal Maze, and Knightmare came up and it seemed quite practical.

"There were certain elements to it that we thought, actually that would work on stage," says Flannery, who plays character of Dungeon Master, Lord Treguard

'Side step right'

"When people have heard we're doing Knightmare Live, they get very excited," says Bell, who plays Lord Fear.

"It was a very unique kid's show in many ways in that it was quite nasty - everyone has been saying how scared they were.

"But there was also just a nonsense to it, this kid in a helmet who couldn't see, and all his friends going 'go forwards...side step right'."

Elaborate sets, costumes and special effects have made this one of the most expensive shows at the Fringe.

They raised £6,000 through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.

Eric and Little Ern Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens are performing a Morecombe and Wise tribute show, Eric and Little Ern

Mum-of-two Relly Annett-Baker was one of the fans who donated £30 in exchange for the chance to take part in the show.

"When they did the Kickstarter to launch this, and if you signed up you could be a dungeoneer.

"I was straight on that because I loved that show as a kid. It was my all time favourite thing to watch."

The team mates are played by guest comedians, such as the comedy duo We Are Goose.

"Oh god, it's so weird hearing the theme tune today which I haven't heard since then, and it really put me back to being six or seven years old," says Richard Hughes.

"It was almost aspirational. I think 10-year-old me would have totally freaked out today. That's a massive tick off life ambitions just done there," says Timothy Goose.

Huge potential

But Knightmare isn't the only bit of nostalgia at this year's festival.

Lovers of TV wrestling will remember the smack downs and belly butts of rivals Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks.

They have been brought back to life in a play at the Assembly George Square.

There is a Morecombe and Wise tribute show, Eric and Little Ern.

Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon's two-man play about wrestlers Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks is a homage to British wrestling's golden age

There's improvised comedy with puppets from The Jim Henson Company.

And Caroline Rhea, who played Aunt Hilda in the popular 90s kids' show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, has a stand up show.

The Scotsman's TV critic Andrea Mullaney says shows that tap into childhood memories have huge potential - but she adds a warning.

"It's kind of an easy thing to do - but then again it's not that easy because you have to do it right. If you do it badly, it's horrible. People will be quite annoyed if you screw it up.

"I think the first thing is it's got to be a show everybody remembers, and has really good memories.

"And the kind of thing that appeals to people who are going to go to the Fringe. I mean, it sounds obvious, but sometimes people get that wrong."

With more than 3,000 shows at this year's Fringe, competition to stand out has never been fiercer.

Pulling on the heart strings of nostalgia seems to be one sure fire way to do that.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Edinburgh, Fife and East

Weather

Edinburgh

11 °C 11 °C

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.