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The Crystal Maze is a British game show devised by Jacques Antoine (the creator of Fort Boyard) and shown on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

The first four series, including three Christmas specials, were presented by Richard O'Brien from 15 February 1990 to 24 June 1993, followed by two series and two specials hosted by Ed Tudor-Pole from 24 December 1993 to 10 August 1995. A one-off celebrity edition, informally known as The Crystal Maze for Stand Up to Cancer, was hosted by Stephen Merchant in 16 October 2016, before a full revival series with Richard Ayoade hosting ran from 23 June 2017 to 31 December 2020.

Format

The show is set within "The Crystal Maze" - a labyrinth consisting of four different time zones (Industrial (temporarily replaced by Ocean), Medieval (replaced by Eastern), Futuristic, and Aztec) and its centrepiece called "The Crystal Dome". Each episode has a team of contestants travel across the zones, competing in a range of different challenges (Skill, Physical, Mental, and Mystery), with a "time crystal" won for each challenge successfully completed. Upon reaching the Crystal Dome, a time limit is calculated based on the crystals obtained and the team have to collect as many gold tokens as possible, while avoiding silver tokens, in the allotted time to win the grand prize.

From the third series of the revival introduced a new concept called the "Mega Crystal", which would grant ten seconds of time inside the Crystal Dome.

Why It Rocks

  1. Richard O'Brien, Stephen Merchant, and Richard Ayoade were all brilliant and funny hosts.
  2. The set designs for the zones were fantastic, with Aztec, Medieval, and Eastern all representing the past, Industrial and Ocean both representing the present, and Futuristic representing the future.
  3. The puzzles were both challenging and fun.
  4. The theme tune is great.
  5. So many quotable lines such as "To the Crystal Dome!" and "Will you start the fans, please!"
  6. Mumsey (a fortune teller who was portrayed as being Richard O'Brien's mother) and the Riddle Master (a head in a jar who had telekenesis) were great side characters.

Bad Qualities

  1. Some of the contestants could be pretty daft, which leads to a good chunk of them getting locked inside the games (either by exceeding the time limit, or breaking a game's special rules or restrictions), and their teammates have to decide whether to sacrifice their hard-earned crystals to buy them out or not.
  2. While not bad and playing up the time-travel element to a T, Ed Tudor-Pole was a poor replacement for Richard O'Brien.

Trivia

  • Chatsworth Television originally wanted to make a British version of Fort Boyard, but the fort itself was unavailable due to its ongoing refurbishments between 1988 and 1989. As Channel 4 commissioned the production company for a full series, producer Malcom Heyworth contacted Jacques Antoine about an alternative format, with a proposal that it would use themed zones as a way of keeping the show fresh. As a result, and after being developed in two days, The Crystal Mazewas born.
  • During the show's original run from 1990 to 1995, the first series was filmed at Shepperton Studios, while the final five series were all filmed at an adapted aircraft hanger, Hangar 6, operated by Aces High Studios at North Weald Airfield in Essex. The 2016 Stand Up To Cancer special was filmed at The Crystal Maze Live Experience in London. For the show's revival from 2017 onward, it was filmed at Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol.
  • One of the missions in Grand Theft Auto V is named "Crystal Maze", which is a reference to this show.
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