31/03/2020

Week One Of The UK Lockdown Done, How's Everyone Doing?

Obviously, with TV production at a bare minimum and presenters hosting shows from their homes, there's not going to be any TCM in the near future. So, putting game shows to the side for now, how's everyone coping? Think I can sum up my monotonous days quite adequately in a song...



On the plus side, I finally got hold of another book I needed for my TCM collection. The Crystal Maze Puzzle Book 2 has been listed online for months at extortionate prices. Only a week or so ago it was on eBay for £77. I know that the main book seller on there has an automated pricing system so its an algorithm deciding to try and fleece bank accounts but still, £77. Thankfully that automated system dropped it to £6 at the back end of last week so I snapped it up while I could before it shot up again.


 Let us know how you're managing in the comments below. Found anything good worth watching to share? Just need a chat? I might have to sort out a little get together on Twitch or something

20/03/2020

More Free Time? Here's Some Game Show/Panel Shows To Enjoy

Well this is fun isn't it? All this free time and panicky shoppers raiding Sainsbury's is proving.... well it's something isn't it. I got a little mini lecture off a woman this morning in regards to me buying one of the last three bottles of semi-skimmed. Anyhow, in between trying the Resident Evil 3 demo and relearning to bake bread since everyone's had it all, I've been cobbling together some YouTube playlists of gameshows and panel shows to have a flick through. No more than one episode of each show, if you like something I'm sure you can go look for more in your own time, we've all got plenty of that for now. I'll be constantly adding to them over time as I remember and find more.

Game Shows


Panel Shows

13/03/2020

It's a Friday the 13th Coronavirus special! Boxset Suggestions: If You Find Yourself With Free Time

For one reason or another, you might find yourself short of things to do at the moment. So here's some suggested playlists to make use of whatever free time you might have.


https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-crystal-maze

If I have to explain this one to you, I won't be mad but I will be extremely disappointed. And mad.

10/03/2020

Your Favourite Crystal Maze Bloggers (because how many of those do you know) On Set

Our favourite TV producer Mr Neale Simpson, whose book The Crystal Maze Challenge is still available from all good book retailers, recently sent us some behind the scenes photos and look, its us!

 

 As we've mentioned we had our visit last year on a camera blocking day, so the crew were lining up shots and rehearsing filming with us as dummy contestants while game testing. As such here we are with Jon in the drink as we offer un-useful advice from the windows as seen through the TV cameras. Here's hoping we get another go this year, it's the best day out I get all year. That Aztec visit is my annual holiday.

We've got more pictures at our archive at http://maze.sky-hook.net/gallery/index.php

09/03/2020

Challenge TV - Keeping Game Shows Repeats on Rotation Since '97

In 1995, the original run of The Crystal Maze came to an end and, this being before video streaming online or on-demand services, it meant there was no real way to watch the show anymore. One option was occasional repeated showings as part of Channel 4's 'The Bigger Breakfast'. This was an extension to the regular Big Breakfast which would be scheduled during school holidays when kids had less to do and needed more TV aimed at them to keep them busy. In amongst showings of 'Saved By The Bell', 'Batman' (the '60s version) and 'Eerie, Indiana' would often be a repeat of TCM. In 2000 The Bigger Breakfast' was replaced by T4 and the programming changed to mostly just be Popworld and repeats of Hollyoaks. However there was a more long term option than waiting for school holidays and hoping TCM was included in the week's programming. 

In 1993, "The Family Channel" was launched in the UK. Born from the remnants of ITVs closed South East franchise TVS, The Family Channel promised no sex, violence or bad language and instead focused on programming the family can watch together. Shows on the channel included Remington Steele, The Wonder Years and The Bob Newhart Show. However most importantly what would be a precursor to the the channels future, self produced content in Trivial Pursuit and a family version of the Roy Walker classic Catchphrase.

In 1997 the channel was rebranded as Challenge TV and all focused moved to game and quiz shows. Now while Challenge in its current incarnation has a somewhat limited selection (as I'm writing they've scheduled 2 hour blocks of Bruce's Price is Right, Pointless, The Chase and All Star Family Fortunes for the day), when it first launched there was a much wider range of programming filling the hours.

04/03/2020

As Bradley Walsh Departs Doctor Who, Here's A Reminder of "Midas Touch"

As in the case of Bradley Walsh, every so often there's a personality whom you can't remember not knowing who they were. Jonathan Ross has been on TV since at least the 1950's for example. Before him Bruce Forsyth was entertaining Queen Liz I. But do you remember a time BB? Before Bradley?

He's done it all, quizzes, gameshows, sitcoms, soaps, serious drama, a film, viral corpsing videos from 'The Chase' and has just announced his departure from the role of Graham in 'Doctor Who'. Seriously, go look at his Wikipedia and gawp at just how much the man has done. So as he files another project away alongside "Wheel of Fortune" and "Mike Bassett England Manager", I wanted to quickly talk about the first show I remember seeing him on in 1995, "Midas Touch".

29/02/2020

New Additions For My Personal Collection - Publicity Photos

I recently had a stumble through eBay and happened across some more TCM paraphernalia I couldn't turn down to add to my collection. I got a set of three Channel 4 publicity stills from the 90s series, one from S3, one from S4 and one from S5 or 6. I've got my eye on some more stuff but for now I need some frames for these.

Series 3
Series 4
Series 5 or 6


15/02/2020

The 30th Anniversary Celebration Ends With A Big Surprise From Richard O'Brien

There was videos, there was anecdotes, there was memories and a quick happy birthday for Red Dwarf too.

But most importantly, and I mean MOST importantly, there was this...

The Crystal Maze - 30th Anniversary Toast Post

30 years ago today on February 15th 1990, Sinead O'Connor was depressing everyone at #1, the UK was still 1 month away from the greatest movie ever committed to film in "Weekend at Bernie's" and Channel 4 broadcast the first episode of what would become a rather successful adventure game show. We just wanted to share some enthusiasm around the show and we also asked some fans to share their opinions of the show in a toast to The Crystal Maze's 30th anniversary (Note: Two days after we started putting this together, TCM's official Twitter account started asking for similar comments, so some may be via them):

@Phil98167545





@JGAdventureZone






I love the show because it was way ahead of its time. It was a very modern thing to watch back in the 90s, nothing we had ever seen before. It brought us escapism, adventure and fantasy. It brought us memorable moments. It made us all want to enter the Maze ourselves. This became a lifelong dream of mine. I was lucky to enter the maze twice by working on the new series. I've collected tonnes of items from the show, including timers from two of the original zones, Crystal's, tokens, books, jacket and more. I am so happy to see the Maze still going strong 30 years on. Maze Master Edward Tudor-Pole was just as good as Richard O'Brien. I loved Ocean Zone. - Neil Robinson




08/02/2020

98% Sure There's More Crystal Maze Coming This Year - Bunim/Murray Post a Casting Call

It looks like there's going to be more TCM getting made for viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. Bunim/Murray have posted a new casting call for more families to take part in the US version. As seen on the site, filming will again take place in the UK (safe to presume Bristol's Bottleyard Studios) and participants must have a valid passport by July 3rd 2020.

US readers can click the splat to apply

https://shortaudition.tv/The-Crystal-Maze


Another hint as to what's to come came in the form of a tweet from @mockrockuk

05/02/2020

Ed Tudor Pole Appearing at Whitby Steampunk Weekend This Weekend (8th - 9th Feb)

Mazemaster #2 Ed Tudor Pole will be appearing at Whitby Steampunk Weekend this weekend. On  Saturday, Ten Pole Tudor will be performing along with Alice's Night Circus and Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers (best band name ever) at the Whitby Pavilion.


And then on Sunday the 9th, ETP will be talking about his life and career as well as answering questions in a Q&A.Now I wouldn't expect too much talk on TCM but for me, it was the show that got me into his music. Plus with 'Swords of a Thousand Men' gaining some popularity as the soundtrack to Haven's current ad campaign, there'll be some new listeners discovering Tenpole Tudor's work. By the way, if you've never seen Aardman's "The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists!" I strongly suggest you change that.


As mentioned on the poster, outside of music he's appeared in Kull the Conqueror with Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame and Tia Carrera from Wayne's World, Game of Thrones, played Riff Raff on stage in The Rocky Horror Show and was in scenes cut from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

27/01/2020

ETOnline Video Goes Behind The Scenes of The Crystal Maze - And It's All Very Familiar

As we've mentioned in the past, we've visited the Bottleyard Studios twice on the invitation of the Crystal Maze production crew to have a go on the games before filming. We've also been used as stand in contestants during camera blocking, the stage where they plan out the camera angles to give the audience at home the best view.

Well, with the new Nickelodeon series underway, a few US journalists were invited to enjoy similar experiences to promote the show, and this video with Cassie DiLaura from etonline.com should give you a great idea of how our days go. It even includes a moment with nicest bloke in the world, executive producer Neale Simpson.

24/01/2020

The Music Of The Crystal Maze US - Ryan Lofty

Hi this is Ryan Lofty, one of the composers of the Nickelodeon adaptation of The Crystal Maze, here to chat about what’s new in music for the US version of the show!

Thank you to Liam, Jon, and the whole team for having me.

Co-composer David Butterfield and I were initially brought on to cover the theme song. The creative brief didn’t have too much detail other than a request for a contemporary hybridized take... plus a nicely worded warning that the UK series composer would be reviewing and approving – so don’t mess with his composition!

Covering a theme as well-known and loved as “Force Field” is a big responsibility. We spent a lot of time researching, reading YouTube comments, and checking out fan blogs like this one.

22/01/2020

The Crystal Maze Lands In New York

Just thought I'd share this incredible image of The Crystal Maze USA being advertised in Times Square in New York City. My god, my two favourite things blended together. Wow.

So finally, this week the UK's classic TV show The Crystal Maze starts across the pond in the USA. Following in the footsteps of it's sister show Fort Boyard, the Maze has gone international almost exactly 30 years since it's UK debut.

The Crystal Maze USA officially begins in the US this Friday on Nickelodeon. 7/6c

19/01/2020

King Richard O'Brien Coin prop

While the excitement over the US Crystal Maze release continues, I just wanted to share with you my latest acquisition to add to my Maze prop Collection. A large Richard O'Brien figurehead coin, as used on screen in the Crystal Maze UK 2018 Series. The coin was used in the Medieval Wages game. It is absolutely stunning. It is very detailed and fairly heavy, I wanted it the moment I saw it on TV. I am so chuffed I was able to get this rare find. It is surprisingly large, about the size of a roll of sellotape (scotch tape). The detail is excellent, thanks to the Art Dept. Another piece to add to my extensive maze collection. There will only ever be one true king of The Crystal Maze!

The Crystal Maze US Episode 1 Review

There's a storied history of UK shows getting remade for international audiences. Occasionally they click, Steptoe and Son was recrafted as Sanford and Son in the States and it worked out pretty well. Unfortunately more often than not, something gets lost in the translation. Red Dwarf had two pilot episodes produced across the pond in the early 90s and neither worked. The IT Crowd had a pilot made in 2006 which had Richard Ayoade reprise his role as Moss alongside Joel McHale as Roy in what was essentially a shot for shot remake of the first UK episode and that exercise in futility led nowhere. Davina McCall's The Million Pound Drop was hugely successful during its run here but The Million Dollar Money Drop hosted by actor Kevin Pollack only lasted 12 episodes.

What's successfully designed, written and crafted for one audience may not resonate with an entirely different target market. We love black pudding but there's some places where fried pigs blood just won't fly. So when I found out that The Crystal Maze was going to be adapted for US TV, I was apprehensive. This is a show I've a had special connection with since I was the grand old age of 1 and a bit. Ask a Whovian how they'd feel if NBC decided they were going to remake Doctor Who and I'd imagine the fear and anxiety levels would skyrocket. We correctly deduced that they'd use the current UK set, flying in contestants Fort Boyard style to make use of existing, and expensive, facilities so at least the zones and dome would look right. We also said it probably won't get past the pilot stage so it's a score draw for predictions. However the show is more than just an elaborate set, it's about having a host who does more than just throw contestants into games, it's about being fun and imaginative, it's about it entertaining us from start to finish and having us shouting at inept contestants on screen.

16/01/2020

The Crystal Maze USA gets a stunning Graphic Map overhaul!

The Crystal Maze US Debuts on YouTube

In a move not unfamiliar to Nickelodeon viewers, the first episode has made it's bow on Youtube.




Now if you're not located in North America it won't work for you. But this is the internet and when has that stopped anyone. There'll be no spoilers on here though, we want you watching it and enjoying it. So instead of us reviewing the episode over a week from the 24th, here's what Twitter thought:

12/01/2020

The US Marketing Begins

With under two weeks to go until TCM starts in the States on Nickelodeon, the marketing push has begun.

Today Nickelodeon put this out on Twitter as a brief introduction to the world and format of TCM.


We knew it would be a $25k top prize rather than the underwhelming rewards that are part and parcel of the UK show but the video explains how this prize is earned. Every gold token is worth $100 (that's some pricey Mylar), and we can assume silvers are -$100, so a minus score should mean they go home with nothing. Also, whilst the current UK rules mean you get nothing scoring 49 or less, I'd assume that even a gold total of +1 we still see them get $100.

31/12/2019

Happy New Year, and Here's To A Great 2020

Happy new year to all our readers and Twitter followers. 2020 looks to have worked out rather nicely as not only will it mark 30 years since The Crystal Maze debuted on our screens, it also marks the debut of a new incarnation of the show for US TV on Nickelodeon. That starts on January 24th so we'll try and have a spoiler-free review up as soon as we can afterwards.

There's more episodes of the UK version waiting to be shown so we'll have more 'Who's Who' posts to accompany them when they get scheduled, plus we'll relay UK broadcast info for the US show the moment we find out where you can watch it.

We aren't 100% saying it wont be Nickelodeon UK, but it 95% won't be Nickelodeon UK.

Maybe 96%

15/12/2019

Beginners Guide to The Crystal Maze

If you've recently seen Adam from Adam Ruins Everything talking about doing a game show for Nickelodeon that's been on British TV for 30 years, you've thought one of three things:

  • I've seen that on YouTube, he's perfect for it.
  • Oh cool, never heard of it, but looks pretty good.
  • What? 30 years? What is it? What's with the bald guy in animal print? Did I just see the guy from that Ben Stiller alien movie?

Well there's a lot more to it than this, but here's the basics:

09/12/2019

'The Crystal Maze' comes to Nickelodeon Jan 24th 2020


At long last, we've seen officially released material regarding Nickelodeon's incarnation of The Crystal Maze (and not just us borrowing from industry sites). Thankfully I can say that what we've seen so far looks like a rare case of an American remake done right.

04/12/2019

Some Resources for Teachers Planning Crystal Maze Themed End of Term Stuff

It's getting to the time where teachers give up because it's close to Christmas and usually just throw a  movie on. I remember my RE teacher's go-to movie was Terminator 2, and that wasn't even for Christmas. One thing I've seen a lot of on Twitter has been teachers and schools having TCM themed events for their pupils making use videos and graphics online so I thought why not group the suitable stuff together and throw some suggestions in:

01/12/2019

Christmas Twitter Advent Collection December 2019

On Twitter this month for advent, we're sharing some Christmas specials so on this post we'll be keeping them all in one place to easily find later. Enjoy.



#21 'The Crystal Maze' Channel 4 1991


Christmas Gift Ideas For The Discerning The Crystal Maze/Puzzle Fan

'Tis the season where for one day a year, it's socially acceptable to drink with breakfast. And, unless your name rhymes with Jebeneezer, it's quite common to buy your loved ones/not as loved ones/the couple next door/your sister's partner's niece's goldfish a present. So should they have even a passing interest in our favourite challenge based game show, then perhaps these ideas will stuff a stocking or two:

22/11/2019

11/11/2019

A Rare In-Depth Crystal Maze Interview With Ed Tudor-Pole


Second maze master Ed Tudor-Pole is usually reluctant to talk about his time on the show, preferring to talk about his music rather than his film and TV career. A few interviews I've read and listened to over the years have all featured mentions of The Crystal Maze being moved on from very quickly. One that particularly sticks out in my memory is the one from Demon FM from 2009 which features Ed's responses to a series of Crystal Maze questions being "You've got to bear in mind I did it for 5 weeks about 12 years ago and I've only seen one and a half episodes so I'm not an expert on it" and also "Frankly I wasn't sent to this world to present gameshows". 

09/11/2019

Who's Who in the Christmas Special Line Up

As reported by The Sun this week, we may have a line up for this year's Christmas Special.

Returning for a second adventure is captain Scarlet Moffatt, alongside Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, choir leader Gareth Malone, Coronation Street alumni and Strictly contestant Catherine Tyldesley, and Mash Report host and comedian Nish Kumar. Also featuring is a cameo from One Foot in the Grave's Richard Wilson

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but for the uninitiated, let's see who they are:

08/11/2019

The Paper Labyrinth: Got A Puzzle Lover In The Family? Get This Book Under Their Tree Next Month

Following on from his releases 'Make Puzzles Great Again' and "Not Another Crossword", friend of the blog Charle Wheeler has released another puzzle book ideally timed to get it in amongst your puzzle-loving loved one's pile of presents next month.


"The Paper Labyrinth" is a book-wide adventure across 157 pages of puzzles and riddles.

Available from Amazon for £6.99


25/10/2019

Ayoade Returns To Travel Man For One Last Run, And Starts Off With His Predecessor In Tow

It's been a few weeks since a Friday blog, real life's getting in the way. However this Monday saw the return of Travel Man to Channel 4 and Richard Ayoade is taking four last weekend trips before Joe Lycett takes over.

This week saw 48 hours spent in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and this week's travel partner was none other than his TCM predecessor Stephen Merchant.


The episode sees them take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the city; eating oysters by the sea, visiting filming locations from Game of Thrones (despite neither of them having seen the show) and shopping for the clothing item Croatia is apparently known for: cravats.

Merchant sporting his shaved head from the filming of 'Logan' whilst in the TCM Live Experience venue in Angel

Click here to watch the show (UK users only)

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/travel-man-48-hours-in/on-demand/69151-001

08/10/2019

Graphic Designer Julia Siemon and Possible Pitches For TCM US Title Sequence

Just another quick one, something to share with you all

Last night @FrasyBaby on Twitter brought to our attention some graphic design work for a title sequence for Nickelodeon's Crystal Maze created by designer, animator and director Julia Siemon.

Copyright Julia Siemon

04/10/2019

Don't Forget Your Toothbrush - No Adventure But Suitcase-fuls of Excitement courtesy of @achrisevans

Saturday night TV is a tricky product to master. Sometimes producers get it right and a format comes along people remember for decades such as Gladiators or Noel's House Party. Then again sometimes they make Scavengers.

Over the years there's been a range of variety shows that have gathered audience participation, games, surprises and excitement in one weekly show to generate some fun on a Saturday night. Noel Edmonds invited us all to a House Party with a surprising amount of gunge and his big pink lodger. Ant and Dec have invited us to win the contents of ad breaks, prank celebrities and win holidays with dozens of other competition winners. Michael McIntyre has even been in on the act luring unsuspecting members of the public on stage, surprising his audience, and hijacking celebrity phones.

One show I rediscovered through the magic of Youtube, however, is Chris Evans' (not the Marvel one) first show post-Big Breakfast: Don't Forget Your Toothbrush.

Missing Fort Boyard? Putin some effort and there's more to watch (sorry, that was terrible)

Just a quick one before today's main Friday blog. Crystal Maze is on a break, Fort Boyard finished a few weeks ago, and we've no idea when Boyard Land is starting, so we've been struggling for something to watch. But without wanting to sound too much like Professor Farnsworth:

Good News Everyone!

It looks like Russian Fort Boyard is getting the official YouTube upload treatment much like it's French counterpart.


Doesn't run as long as the French version, and again it's not in English, but as with the French version you can still follow along easily, you might even pick up some of the language.

02/10/2019

The Crystal Maze 30th Anniversary

In 1989, around this very time, the first-ever series of The Crystal Maze was recorded at Shepperton Studios, which was transmitted for the first time on 15th February 1990. We are fast approaching the 30th Anniversary of this amazing TV show, one of the UK's most successful entertainment shows of all time.



We are unsure yet what plans are in the pipeline if any to mark this incredible milestone. The Crystal Maze idea came about due to the fact that the studio to Fort Boyard was unavailable at the time. Fort Boyard, TCM's sister show, meanwhile has recently marked its own 30th Anniversary.

Will we see a special show to mark the 30th Anniversary of The Crystal Maze in the UK? Let's all hope so. I would love to see a special C4 episode, featuring all four original Maze Masters. Each Master could take a zone each. Richard O'Brien in Aztec, Edward Tudor-Pole in Futuristic, Stephen Merchant in Eastern and Richard Ayoade in Industrial. They could also bring back Medieval for the occasion.

Richard O'Brien made a Cameo appearance in the 2016 Stand Up to Cancer Special, on a TV screen message. But I think the ultimate delight for fans, would be to see him, and Edward Tudor Pole at the new Maze set in the flesh, present one or two games. This would be the best way to mark the 30th Anniversary of the show. It would be especially cool if us fans were invited on to mark it as well. Some of us have props and outfits from the original Maze hangar set, which could make fantastic fan Easter Eggs in the 30th Anniversary episode.




The Crystal Maze, as original Producer David Croft once described, was a "flag on the TV landscape" - it was such an iconic and innovative show, way ahead of its time. It was fun, fresh, exciting and thrilling. So many items of merchandise have been released from the back of the show, from puzzles, books, games and more. This momentum continued into the 21st Century, with many repeats on Challenge TV of the original series. We then eventually saw the live experience venues open across the UK, which pushed for the revival series to be made. It's now confirmed that The Crystal Maze will definitely reach it's 30th anniversary year, as an American version of the format has just recently been recorded. It's enduring and unrelenting nature is a testament to the format. Let's hope this momentum continues into 2020 and beyond. We have the USA version to look forward to, an Eastern Zone Board game expansion pack that is due to be released, as well as the second half of UK celebrity episodes, including a Christmas Special still to air. Let's hope another civilian series is commissioned for its 30th Anniversary year.

The Crystal Maze is here to stay, and let's hope Channel 4 celebrates it's iconic show in a BIG way next year. Channel 4, get that invite sent out to Richard O'Brien's agent NOW! This chance will never come again.

30/09/2019

Competition: Fancy a Sleepover In the London Live Experience Venue?

The Crystal Maze Live Experience London, Wayfair and Tripadvisor.com have teamed up to offer one lucky winner a night for two in a specially built pop up bedroom in the Aztec Zone of the London live venue.

27/09/2019

The Desert Forges - Deeply Dippy In The Jordanian Dunes

This month (September 2019) sees the filming of 'Boyard Land', a winter offering of Fort Boyard with the format transposed to a theme park rather than the chills of the English Channel. However, it's not the first attempt for FB's host network TF2 to have a second adventure game show filling the winter schedule. In 1999, they commissioned Adventure Line to produce "Les Forges Du Desert" which was set in the Wadi Rum region of Jordan, an area with an average high temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The show was not successful and despite a high budget with an experienced producer behind it, low viewing figures led to TF2 cancelling it midway through its series.


Channel 5 weren't put off by its colossal failure in its home broadcast nation and in 2001 broadcast their own version of 'The Desert Forges'.

19/09/2019

First Copy of Eastern Zone Expansion

Rascals very kindly sent us their first Eastern Zone Expansion pack today to look at. It is currently not on sale yet, but soon. They are just waiting on a batch to arrive. The pack is very high quality and features Eastern Zone themed games, which can be played combined with the existing Crystal Maze Board game, or as a standalone game. The pack features the new zone cut out which can be placed over the former Medieval Zone (or over any other zone you fancy, as it's double-sided

14/09/2019

Testing games for this year's series of The Crystal Maze - my story

My name is Neil and I write regularly for this blog, as a massive fan. I was extremely lucky to once again be invited down to the Crystal Maze TV Studio to test the games again for this series (2019), and also see the new Eastern Zone for the first time.  

@adamconover : For Those Who Have No Idea

In the same way that Americans are very likely to be totally unfamiliar with the work of Ed Tudor Pole, the vast majority of Brits are unlikely to be aware of the career of Adam Conover, the man taking ownership of the keys to The Crystal Maze for Nickelodeon.

"Adam Conover, 36, he's a TV host and comedian from Wading River, New York, USA"