Oddly, this weeks From the Friday Vault selection, The Crystal Maze, comes out of the fact that I was watching Rocky Horror Picture Show earlier this week on Halloween. At this point, you’re probably trying to figure out the connection. While it is sometimes pretty scary how my mind works, for those that remember this early 90’s British game show that aired on Channel 4, you’ll immediately remember the host, Richard O’Brien, who was also brilliant as Riff Raff in Rocky Horror.
Initially, the show was intended to be a British remake of the French program, Fort Boyard, whose set was actually a real fort in the middle of the sea. Realizing that this would make it impossible to import, British producer Malcolm Heyworth decided to reinvent the show using four themed zones, representing various periods of time and space, all designed to weave contestants through a myriad of physical and mental challenges. Each week, the team of six contestants took part in a selection of challenges in order to win ‘time crystals’, which were actually, golf ball-sized Swarovski glass crystals. If the contestant failed to complete the stated challenge and exit the chamber in the alloted time, they would be locked in until the team captain opted to buy their teammates freedom at the cost of a previously-earned crystal, which could be done at any time after the lock-in.
With a stated overall goal to collect ‘crystals’ each of which would give the team five seconds of time in the Crystal Dome, the heart of the maze, teams would then enter the dome to take part in their final challenge and, hopefully, win prizes. While the weekly challenges were ‘challenging’, the set was amazing. The maze, itself, cost £250,000 to build and was the size of two football fields. If you get a chance, check it out this weekend when you are desperately searching for something to screen. Anyone out there in Tellyspotting-land remember this from the early 90’s?
The Crystal Maze, series 2, episode 1