29 thoughts on “Crystal Maze Live Experience: Manchester Edition

  1. Chris M. Dickson

    The live experience in London is very good, but far from what you’d want a TV series to be in terms of spectacle. The set for the original run was designed to be a TV set, to be used a dozen or so times a year with plenty of people supporting it.

    I would find it difficult to imagine that a set that was designed to be a live experience hundreds-of-people-per-day set could be nearly so spectacular, when the TV show did trade so much on its spectacle, and I would be delighted to discover that my imagination is insufficient.

    (Thinking about it: if there were sufficiently many sufficiently interesting new games, I probably would forgive them pretty much everything else, though…)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      If this is indeed the set to be used by a hypothetical full series, I wonder how many games they will install and if they swap some out during filming like they used to in the olden days?

  2. David Howell

    So, Stephen pointed out that in all probability Channel 4 would surely commission Crystal Maze 2.0 if it was even halfway successful as a broadcast pilot in their current state (and Crystal Maze might be the only thing splashy enough to warrant a Bake Off lead-in), and asked this question: has Channel 4 had a commercial hit of any size that started after BB left for Five?

    Neither of us could think of any.

    1. Weaver

      Channel 4’s other top-rated home-made new hit series since September 2010.

      Benefits Street
      My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding
      Educating Essex / Yorkshire
      The Island with Bear Grylls

      Well done if you got those at home.

  3. Jon

    In an interview the founder of Live Experience has said that have new games for TV show coming up as to not ruin it, so that should please people here.

    I wonder if the design of the Manchester maze is being led by TV people or the Little Lion? It could be the case this will be rented out by the TV production company and little are basic running their live experience model at the site.

    1. David B

      It certainly sounds that way. To call it the TCM Studios sounds a *little* presumptuous to me… but maybe they know something we don’t. There are official Twitter and YouTube accounts now running, so there appears to be a head of steam behind it.

      If they are planning a remake, I do think they need to think outside the box a bit. One reason that we were struggling for games in later series was that the room sizes limit what you can do. It would be good to have some rooms that are different sizes and orientations to permit more game variety. And the downside to having LL run the experience is that that means you’re almost certainly going to have the old zones, whereas personally I would like to move the agenda on and have four completely new ones.

      1. Alex McMillan

        I feel like you’d need to keep at least 2 of the old zones and transition new zones in, otherwise I feel you risk alienating people. Although I’d be interested as to what zones you’d drop, and what the replacements could be.

        Personally, I’d drop Industrial & Medieval if I had to remove some zones, but I honestly don’t know what themes would be strong enough to replace them. Circus? Jungle? Everything I can think of just feels derivative.

        1. Qusion

          Back when I had time to ponder such things I had imagined a six zone maze which ran Egyptian, Medieval, Futuristic, Atlantis, Ice Age and Industrial.

          If I were working to four zones for a revival, I would Aztec for Egyptian, just for a slightly new aesthetic and Medieval for Atlantis. I would bring back Industrial and Futuristic with a view to ditching Futuristic after a couple of series.

          1. Alex McMillan

            I could see Atlantis being a fun Ocean x Medieval hybrid, and Egyptian could open up some new stuff (loads of pyramids and hieroglyphs, inevitably).

            Could you potentially rebrand Industrial as something like Bunker, Fallout style? Could leave it open to having some bigger cavern rooms.

          2. Brig Bother Post author

            I wonder if the new Maze will have water tanks – I expect not if its open to the public so that’s Ocean out.

            I stand by the idea that for the first series it should be familiar and you start mucking about once you’ve got the audience.

          3. Tom F

            My idea for a “new” maze would be Victorian, Polar, Subterranean, and something like Greek/Roman Villa.

          4. David B

            Ooh, some nice ideas there. I would certainly like a snowy zone

            When we were pitching a revival to Children’s ITV, I recall a Pirate zone was mooted, set on an open-decked galleon.

          5. Alex McMillan

            Polar could also take over the duties of some of the Future games, by having a research station as part of the zone (Similar split to Ocean’s ballroom/boiler room)

          6. Jon

            Personally I think the three zones that stayed throughout the original run would need to be included in any revival, albeit with much improved set design. I think a zone thats set in space is kind of at the heart of the whole idea of The Crystal Maze rather than having everything earth based. I’d thought about a pirate ship before too, I think that set could bring a lot of potential ideas.

            I would have one space that isn’t limited by the confines of four walls in each zones, so we could have some Fort Boyard style larger games, that involve climbing etc.

            I’m interested to know what the twists in the special are that have been mentioned in one article by a producer, I think it may be some kind of double up or lose half your crystals pre-dome game. Perhaps a second visit to Aztec to play these games? Promo shots suggest that night time and daytime lighting is used in Aztec.

            It’ll be interesting to see what the soundtrack is like, I can’t imagine the games will not be accompanied by background music in this day and age.

            I’d like to know more about the CITV pitch though, if it’s been written about somewhere else David B, don’t recall hearing about it before.

          7. David B

            Jon: I can fairly accurately date the pitch to 2000-1, because it was just before cutbacks and ITV centralisation was happening. I can’t remember too much more about it other than the games were more kiddy and it was targeted as a shorter show as part of a children’s schedule.

            To solve the problem about low-scoring teams have no hope in the Dome, I think we came up with two solutions – have some games worth more time (but they might be harder or potential lock-ins); and another one where there was a token with a secret marking on it that you had to get (so potentially even a team with 5 seconds could still win).

        1. David B

          That famous Father Ted line was improvised. They had a technical hitch on the original scripted line so Dermot Morgan quickly thought of a new joke to make the audience laugh a second time.

  4. Brekkie

    Some people (well, one person) at TV Forum think this might be at the old Granada Studios.

    I’d always favour Ocean over Industrial but for an experience you can see that they would leave Ocean out of it. Indeed are any of their Aztec games water based?

    Futuristic will be the trickiest thing to get right as we are way beyond it now. Maybe a 90s zone instead!

    1. JamesW

      That’d have been me – but that’s purely going by the Artist’s impression. That facade is basically the one on the Studio 2 building at the old Granada (which held the Baker Street set for those on the Granada Studio Tour), and the footprint is about right, based on the location they have in London. If they keep the gantries etc, it would make it a bit easier to film in.

        1. JamesW

          Still in two minds about it as a live experience, but it certainly seems successful.

          I’ve also been informed that another person reached the same conclusion as me, so I’m surrendering full credit.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    Well the official Challenge Twitter has had two goes at it, and an official press release hasn’t come out yet, but it looks like this is going out on Channel 4 Sunday 16th at 9pm.

    1. Cheesebiscuits

      Adam Hills just confirmed this on the last leg and there was a little clip as well in the aztec zone.

  6. Alex S

    I did the Manchester maze this morning as part of their fortnight of ‘previews’ (rehearsals/full-scale testing). I can’t compare directly to the London experience other than what others have said. For anyone looking at doing it in the future, there will be mild spoilers that follow but nothing too revealing.

    Firstly, I thought it was brilliant.

    I believe one difference is that, rather than having 4 teams in the maze at once, and then all meeting up to do the crystal dome in turn, they’ve quite cleverly arranged it so the whole maze is essentially one big one-way route, with the dome at the end. Each time zone is split into two sections and there is a team in each section at a time. Each section still has about 5-6 games in. With the dome at the end, that means they must have 9 teams in the maze at a time and a team enters/leaves about every ten minutes. Even with that many people in the maze, we didn’t see anyone other than our team and the occasional Maze Minion in black resetting the games, it was very well organised and didn’t feel like we were always waiting for people to move on ahead of us.

    There were a few technical issues, but nothing that ruined the experience and nothing that would be unreasonable to expect from a live experience like this.

    A few of the games, especially in the future zone, could have done with more windows for spectators.

    The reveal of your score at the end is done on a screen back in the entrance area once you’ve got your stuff out of the lockers, rather than whilst you were still ‘in’ the maze. This I thought was a bit of a shame, the reveal is done nicely on the screen but it would be nice perhaps to have done the score announcement before the ‘experience proper’ ends.

    The games were excellent, the only games I recognised from the original series were ones where finding the ‘solution’ wasn’t really a part of the game, the challenge was in the execution.

    1. Chris M. Dickson

      Couple of other reviews of the previews, from two different escape game bloggers on the same team: https://escapegameaddicts.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/the-crystal-maze-manchester-a-preview/ and https://britofanescapehabit.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-crystal-maze-in-previews/ as well.

      I asked another member of that team, who had previously played the London one, how they compared. Manchester is definitely not worse and in many respects better, not least a fantastic set that doesn’t make you feel like that you’re in a really well-themed office building, as was the case in London. The games in Manchester are as much a mixed bag as the games in London: some brill, some merely decent. The Dome is better in Manchester. On the other hand, in London, it was possible to book out all four teams and know that you’re playing with 31 of your friends, with a really good conclusion when you’re all at the dome together. As Manchester teams play one at a time, you don’t quite get that same experience, which was quite a thing to miss.

      Manchester still has a few rough edges to sand off which they hopefully will do, or have done, by the end of the previews – but sounds like the one to go for, if you have to choose and getting to London and Manchester are equally easy, if you’re an 8 (or fewer!) rather than a 32.


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