‘The Crystal Maze’ – Nostalgia trip

Take a little trip through four perilous zones with guest blogger Mr Jontosaurus

“Start the fans, please!!!!”

Strap yourselves in, boys and girls, because its time for a nostalgia trip. Let me take you back to a time when health and safety was a fallacy, when a person could go on a gameshow and run the risk of potentially breaking every bone in their body. To a time when all of this risk was just seen as good old fashioned fun. If you shattered your skull, it didn’t matter, because look, you’ve won a microwave and your head was kind of a weird shape to begin with, anyway. I talk, of course, about The Crystal Maze.

Alright, I know why you’re so puzzled. Why, I hear you ask, would a show like that be considered more risky than Gladiators? On that show, contestants were regularly rugby tackled by muscled men and women, and one of the competitions literally involved bashing each other over the head with giant cotton buds. However, competitors were given helmets, knee pads and everything else to ensure their safety. But enough about Gladiators- that’s another show for another time!

The Crystal Maze wasn’t quite so deadly on the surface, but lets just consider here that instead of lots of protective gear, the competitors were given…a track-suit. And not a star of the art, heavily padded or either, but just a normal, stereo-typical 1990s track-suit. Now, I didn’t go through that stage in my life considering I was a child, but I can’t imagine there’s much protection there in that sort of outfit.

Crystal Maze contestants in their fabulous track suits

For those of you who didn’t know, The Crystal Maze was a show on Channel Four that pitted a team of people against a whole range of challenges. Basically, the teams moved through four zones going into rooms and completing challenges. Some were mental challenges, others were physical, others were a mix of both and some seemed to have no relevance to any skill ever developed by a human. I could spend forever examining the concept of the show, but frankly, I couldn’t describe it accurately enough. Instead, how about you go and watch it for yourself?

For the majority of challenges, helmets weren’t needed- but there were the few here and there that made you wince. One challenge- which involved challengers crossing a giant rolling pin above a pool of water- has you constantly waiting nervously for the crack and the scream of a broken leg. Unfortunately, for the sadist among us, that broken leg never occurred. The show was presented by Richard O’Brien, the balding writer of The Rocky Horror Show, who was as eccentric as you would expect him to be. Later on, it was presented by Edward Tudor-Pole who was in the band Ten Pole Tudor, who was suitably eccentric but actually had hair, which was disappointing.

Ed Tudor-Pole – far too much hair for a Crystal Maze presenter

When the team had done a whole load of challenges, dependant on how long they took to do things, they would (hopefully) have earned a few crystals here and there- hence the show’s name- which all equalled 5-10 seconds inside a giant glass crystal. With that time, they had to grab a load of gold and silver notes as some fans blasted them about. Again, just go and watch it and find out for yourselves. It sounds more awesome than it really is.

The zones! Which was your favourite? (Gif from Buzzfeed)

In 2015, The Crystal Maze- sort of- returned, albeit off-screen. Groups of friends can now take part in the same tasks as the original, only without the joy of being on national tv but still with the dubious honour of getting to own a hideous 90s track-suit. However, if you’re the kind of person who wants to live through the 90s again, get yourself on the website and register your group of friends.

And with Robot Wars getting a reboot, will we see this show return to our screens soon? I can’t wait for a presenter to say those immortal words: “Staaartttt the fannnnns please!”

The ultimate goal – time in the Crystal Dome

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