The Crystal Maze 2016

By | August 30, 2016

Well now. Well well well now.

The Sun is reporting that The Crystal Maze is set for a big budget comeback, initally as a one-off for Stand Up To Cancer with a view to a series. David Tennant is being tipped as host. I’ve had some private convos with some TV peeps who won’t give anything away but suggest it’s true.

Gosh and indeed blimey. Tennant’s a good choice as well if true.

I am simultaneously the world’s most excited and terrified 35-year-old. Excited because it was my fave show growing up. Terrified because modern production and editing techniques risk urinating all over my childhood.

I would have presumed they’d film a one-off at The Crystal Maze Live Experience in London except I don’t think that would come across that well on camera. Stand Up To Cancer night is October 21st. This feels like it’s going to be a massive rush job or someone’s been secretly building a maze somewhere. If it’s big budget are they hoping other countries will film here Fort Boyard style?

So many questions. So much anticipation. Don’t be rubbish.

Edit: If it’s anything less than a 9/10, there WILL BE consequences. I will relentlessly slag off your next daytime quiz regardless of how good it actually is. If there’s ANY HINT of diary room style confessional or Field Removed Video, every show you work on gets 1/10 in perpetuity. BE WARNED. No I don’t care how hard it is, you break it you buy it.

Edit Edit: It sounds like they ARE filming it at the Live Experience, I think I am already over this.

Edit Edit Edit: It’s going to be hosted by Stephen Merchant. Actually quite a good choice I think. Press release.

49 thoughts on “The Crystal Maze 2016

  1. Michael

    Please God let this be true, and please God let there be applications available.

  2. Karen

    David Tennant is a host choice I can’t believe has never been brought up when discussing potential revivals.

  3. Brekkie

    Best. News. Ever.

    Great choice of host if true – fantastic. And happy it’s on C4 where it belongs too.

  4. Mika

    Horrible flashbacks to the Gladiators remakes.

    “Big budget comeback” – has there been one that’s been done right? (that has the ‘big budget’ aspect). Just seems like adding that budget they lose the inherent cheekiness and quaintness that the original has.

    (Plus part of me goes “Why not just bring back Fort Boyard instead? It’s still there.” :P)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I thought the Glads comeback was perfectly fine for what it was, and continued the age old tradition of being way better thought out than the show it was based on.

      FB doesn’t really have the same association in the UK, and the kids version has only really just finished.

      1. Mika

        Might be more applicable for the American version, I guess. The UK one already was pretty extravagant, but the US one went from cheesy little low budget arena show to overblown, big budget, cut to commercial, HULKAMANIA’S GONNA RUN WILD ON YOU, BROTHER.

        Actually, calling it now: If the updated Crystal Maze doesn’t use entering the room, or a close call to leaving the room as a commercial break (well, provided there ARE commercial breaks), then, well, I’ll be surprised. And disappointed that something like that is even surprising.

          1. Mika

            Huh. Well there’s that. (That said, I’ve always wondered how/why neither show, but especially FB, ever got a proper run Stateside. I mean, there’s the kids version, and the Quebecois version, and that early 90s Vin di Bona clusterfuck (can I say that here? Is it post-watershed hours?)

            Just like, well, France FB itself, it seems like it would’ve been a great summer-run show. Especially these days now that the production values and set designs are getting a bit more up there.

  5. Scousegirl

    I loved the Crystal Maze but I’m horrified that one of our best actors would want to be a game show host!

    1. Brekkie

      Actors have always taken the role of maze master though. And this isn’t some summer filler on ITV we’re talking about, it’s one of the most prize hosting roles in television. It’s effectively the game shows Hamlet.

      1. Chris M. Dickson

        I like that analogy, particularly as it would make Countdown the equivalent of The Mousetrap, all those talent shows a very direct nod at the concept of the jukebox musical and Taskmaster would be the counterpart of repertory theatre.

        (Tennant has slummed it with Comedy World Cup years ago, let alone one-offs, which perhaps could be a show at the Edinburgh Fringe.)

  6. Little Timmy

    Such an attempt at a ‘revival’ could not make the requisite 9/10 grade without at least two years’ solid preparation.

    Do you go with the original zones, adorning them with visual backdrops composed of glorious CGI composites of Tenochtitlan and Rapture?

    Do you inject carefully-tailored BGM into the tasks? No producer could take that decision without risking offending a generation and/or accidentally commissioning someone who has no idea what they’re doing.

    Same distribution of games, same difficulty? Same Dome? Same win rate?

    I am willing to offer you, Brig, an “emotional wager” at evens at a stake of your choosing up to £50, on this report simply not being true. That is, I shall pay you if this really ends up being a thing.

    Tennant? Honestly, I’ve always harboured that Tim Minchin would have been a fairly sufficiently out-there choice.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I can deal with BGM and I can deal with CGI. You don’t mess about with the Dome.

      I’ll have a cheeky tenner with you, as if it was a full fifty I’d have to cope with bankruptcy and emotional distress and I can only deal with one or the other at the minute.

      1. Little Timmy

        I was offering you the other side of the bet: bankruptcy and a happy memory untarnished versus emotional distress and untold riches!

  7. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen it with my own eyes, but I’ll give my 2 cents’ worth anyway.

    Umm, if I’m brutally honest, I’m apprehensive. Much like how the music industry feels artificial and has that ‘mass-produced’ feel to it nowadays, I believe that the same thing is happening to game shows. They just don’t have what made them instant classics like they did back in the 80s and 90s. Watching The Crystal Maze was like an event to me when I first heard about it as a kid, begging my parents to let me stay up to watch it and enjoying every moment of what I saw. I just don’t think this revival will have the same effect. I may be looking at this with nostalgia goggles on, but maybe stuff like this should be left in the time capsule of history. I believe you can see every single episode on YouTube, so is it really worth trying to revive it, only for it to tank because it’s not as good as you remember it? I can’t help but feel that they’ll try to add unneeded fluff like a lot of shows seem to do lately.

    Sorry to put a downer on it and I hope it does well, but I can’t help but be somewhat worried.

  8. Chris M. Dickson

    I know nothing here and am just thinking out loud.

    Let’s suppose that this one-off is an aberration. Say it happens, but it happens on the smallest possible scale: a team of six, diverse in fashions other than that they are all comedians go round the one in London, the games are little or no more spectacular than the ones you can play yourself for £60 plus booking fees, the games are butchered in the edit down to eight and a half minutes of a Channel 4 half-hour, most of which is taken up with the comedians alternately being funny (or, in the case of Romesh Ranganathan or Joe Wilkinson, “funny”). Yet the one-off is sufficiently noisily, if not necessarily well, received that it does inspire at least one full series, which is a trad. arr. in a proper set with some serious money thrown at it, proper contestants and legitimately interesting games. If that were to be the case, how would history judge the one-off?

    The analogy I’m drawing here is to, of all the things, Red Dwarf. Red Dwarf never had a series nine; it had a one-off (well, three-off)_aberration which was a rush job with far too little time and money thrown at it. The emphasis was completely different from what everyone expected, with things like Craig Charles as Rimmer meeting Craig Charles as Lloyd Mullaney, his Coronation Street character. I remain convinced that the show was meant to be two episodes long but they stretched it out into three to save money by obvious and lame tricks like extended shots of the characters laughing at each other. And yet – and yet – that was enough to inspire a full tenth series, which while being a somewhat “modern take” on trad. Red Dwarf, nevertheless got the spirit of the original more or less in the right place, had more good ideas than at least some of the original series, and was well-enough received to inspire up-coming eleventh and twelfth series.

    Red Dwarf IX did its job. A spit-and-sawdust one-off The Crystal Maze tribute, rather than revival, might yet prove to do its own.

    1. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

      Sorry to be ‘that guy’, but Craig Charles played LISTER in Red Dwarf, not Rimmer, who was played by Chris Barrie

    2. David B

      I think this is very much what’s going to happen. If a full set was going to be built, I would like to think I would have heard about it before now.

      They’ll probably use the indoor experience, maybe add a few more props and lighting. Then they’ll either use one game from each zone as inserts for SU2C or, as you say, do a shorter version as a half hour as part of the evening.

      Then again, the quick-and-dirty version of 15-to-1 ended up in a full comeback…

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        The fun complication is that the Live Experience is booked up until March. Unless someone has thought *really* far ahead…

        1. Matt C

          And another thought: I assume the Live Experience isn’t really rigged for full TV cameras? They might have the content, but do they have the ability to get that content on-screen?

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            It really isn’t. I fear if they just put cameras in the Live Experience it will take some talent to avoid the feeling that The Crystal Maze didn’t used to feel like a big office block. The ceilings are quite low for a start, which is a bit rubbish for Aztec.

            Edit: It’s been suggested to me that it will indeed be the Live Experience.

          2. Callum J

            I haven’t really seen much of the live experience. Is it good or bad that they are filming there?

          3. Chris M. Dickson

            It’s cheap and small, for a show that shouldn’t be.

            Granted, for something that you’re doing yourself for tens of pounds, it’s great. Is it broadcast quality? It’s definitely YouTube broadcast quality; it’s certainly not ambitious broadcast quality.

          4. Callum J

            Maybe they are waiting to see if it is as success before they build their own set.

          5. Qusion

            Looking at the official trailer for the experience, I think a decent art department could make it look broadcast worthy.

            As someone else mentioned Red Dwarf, it reminds me a bit of how S1 and 2 were just nicely painted plywood, while S3 was nicely painted plywood with holes in it and a light shone through – and yet on screen looked amazing.

        2. JamesC

          It’s not used/booked on Mondays. If the reports are true, it will almost certainly be a cut down ‘sketch’ for SUTC with 6 stand up comedians (no doubt Last Leg / Catsdown crowd etc.) going around the Live Experience doing a selection of games. What it certainly won’t be is a ‘big budget revival’ as reported elsewhere. However, as someone mentioned above…if ‘noisy’ enough, who knows what could happen. Though the question still remains if the financials of a (television friendly) Maze in the current TV environment add up, unless you can flog the set around the world ala Total Wipeout etc.

        3. Chris M. Dickson

          The site only opens at 2pm on weekdays; it’s available for corporate bookings beforehand, with prices starting at £125 + VAT per head. Additionally, it’s closed all day on (non-public-holiday) Mondays and thus might well be available for filming that day.

          I’m looking forward to it, though knowing that it is (almost certain to be) taking place at the live experience is dialing my expectations way down. Phasers set to “played for laughs”.

          (Is Stand Up For Cancer the night where Channel 4 have comedians interacting with the adverts?)

  9. John R

    I just had a nightmare…8 Out Of 10 Cats does The Crystal Maze…

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I could deal with that, but only once the show had been properly established.

      They were looking into 8OO10CD Treasure Hunt at one point, but that’s already quite loose so I can see the merit in it.

  10. Qusion

    I’ll take it for what it is, (or is likely to be) Channel 4 having a bit of fun with a much loved format to raise some money for charity.

    However as Brig notes channel 4, screw it up and you will never be forgiven.

    On the other hand, it does give them an opportunity to try out filming it, see if the format still works for a modern audience, and even if tweaks like background music would help or hinder. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they film part of it as a serious game, to play with in the edit and see what can be made.

    On the subject of a big budget revival, it would be a bold step for whichever production company picked it up – but in this era of looking to go international, and get some resilience from the advertising market, ot might not be a bad investment to produce an international set along the lines of Boyard.

    Finally, and again, please don’t screw it up Channel 4, this is millions of childhoods, many of whom are now in your key demo…

  11. Marcoraymondo

    As excited as I am with this announcement, I’m with those long term fans (a lot who reside here) who hold the original in such high esteem that any remake, good or bad would be equivalent to taking a leak on the Queen (God bless her).

    However for those who talk about tweaking the format, if they DO decide to play about with it, I am hoping that those in the know who frequent the Bar who have influence on those powers that be will be able to guide the makers in the right direction. I remember the backlash over the Perry/Murnaghan Treasure hunt relaunch on the Beeb in the early naughties – series one was too much of a change and season two was much better once it had been tweaked.

    So I’m swaying between “leave it alone” and “give it a chance”….. Even though my heart is currently more “Step the frack away!”

  12. Brekkie

    In the cold light of day this is still the best hope of a proper comeback in years. I’m treating it as effectively a pilot, with the knowledge that if it went to series it would (hopefully) not be filmed at the Experience and be considerably better. I really don’t think C4 would even just be doing it for charity if the idea hadn’t crossed their minds.

    And on the flip side if it isn’t the show we want it to be at least it’s a glimpse into the Experience for those of us unable to make it down. Could it ruin the Experience though for those booked after broadcast?

    1. Alex McMillan

      Eeeh, I don’t know if Smerch is whimsical enough to pull it off. I’d like to be proven wrong, though.

      1. Michael

        I texted my brother the news this afternoon, and he rightly pointed out that Smerch played Wheatley on Portal 2 – he can do insane task master quite well.

        “Only two more zones till your big surprise…SURPRISE, WE’RE GOING TO AZTEC NOW”

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Yes Portal 2 was my first point of reference as well.

          I don’t even think he needs to be that eccentric. ROB was silly more than anything and built up his own little universe but in a way that was very tongue-in-cheek, I’d suggest that ETP seeming to take it too seriously was his downfall. It’s not Doctor Who.

          I think SM’s best tactic here is probably to just be himself and play it by feel and gently take the piss out of the contestants where necessary. There is no point being ROB, but as Fort Boyard over the years has showed us there’s room for more than one successful host and method.

          1. Qusion

            Richard and Ed both needed to do a lot of filling of dead air in Maze; mainly because British contestants are not usually spontaneously noisy, encouraging or entertaining. They both set up these elaborate tales to give them something to talk about when a team was being boring.

            Compare to modern Boyard, where a team in a boring game just get edited down to make the game shorter.

            Merchent will have the advantage of a team who are confident in front of the camera, and who can be directed. Thus he shouldn’t actually need to do as much. That being said I’d be disappointed if he didn’t tell a far fetched story along the lines of Mumsy and Ralph or Starbuck.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Well it’s going to be an interesting advert for The Experience if nothing else. Still intrigued as to how it’s going to come across.

      Perhaps the whole thing should have been Eight Out Of Ten Cats Do The Crystal Maze Live Experience (For Stand Up To Cancer) and then everyone’s expectations would have been managed more easily.


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