In Depth

The Crystal Maze returns to Channel 4

First look at the new zones in Richard Ayoade's reboot of quirky cult game show

The Crystal Maze returns to UK screens on Friday after a 20-year hiatus, with a new host and challenges, but some very familiar settings.

Gone is eccentric host Richard O'Brien, whose trademark leopard-print coat and surreal sense of humour endeared him to TV audiences in the early 1990s.

In his place is The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade, who kicks off the revamp this Friday with the first of four celebrity specials before the show opens up to the public.

Despite airing its final episode more than 20 years ago, it is clearly still fondly remembered by legions of viewers. In 2015, a crowdfunding campaign raised £500,000 to fund Crystal Maze Live, an immersive experience allowing fans to play the game for themselves on replicas of the set in London and Manchester.

The cult classic game show tests contestants' mental and physical agility through a series of puzzles scattered across four themed zones: Aztec; Medieval; Industrial, and Future. 

First pictures of the new Crystal Maze should reassure fans of the original that little has changed, although the zones have been rebuilt from scratch under the supervision of original designer James Dillon.

"We've altered the finishes so it's much more detailed," Dillon told the BBC. "The original set was done a number of years ago and the quality of cameras in those days wasn't so good."

As original viewers will recall, teams who manage to puzzle their way through the show's notoriously tricky tasks are ushered into the Crystal Dome, where they frantically try to grab prize tokens blown around by giant fans. 

The original dome was "very of the 90s," says The Guardian, while the 2017 version "flashes like something Deadmau5 might DJ inside, all pulsing LED lights that change colour". 

Despite that, in an era of "limp" TV gameshows, The Crystal Maze "still feels enchantingly oddball", adds the paper.

The Crystal Maze starts on Friday 23 June on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Recommended

Vicky McClure: from Dorothy Perkins to Line of Duty
Line of Duty and Trigger Point star Vicky McClure
Profile

Vicky McClure: from Dorothy Perkins to Line of Duty

Trigger Point
Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester star in ITV drama Trigger Point 
In Review

Trigger Point

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022
Martin Freeman as Chris Carson in The Responder
In Depth

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022

Stephen Graham: Britain’s most ‘reliably excellent’ actor
Stephen Graham at the international premiere of The Irishman
Profile

Stephen Graham: Britain’s most ‘reliably excellent’ actor

Popular articles

Are we heading for a snap general election?
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Today’s big question

Are we heading for a snap general election?

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

The Week Footer Banner