Start the fans please… Channel 4 reveal first look at Richard Ayoade on the set of the new Crystal Maze.

“The Stand Up To Cancer special was so brilliant and so successful that commissioning a series of The Crystal Maze was almost a no-brainer. And I couldn’t be more pleased and excited that Richard has agreed to become the new Maze Master – he’s an inspired choice.” – Tom Beck, Head of Live & Events at Channel 4

Legendary adventure gameshow The Crystal Maze returns to Channel 4 next month, and in this first picture unveiled today, new host Richard Ayoade takes centre stage in front of the all-new, smaller than the original, much smaller than the original actually, Crystal Dome. But size isn’t everything, especially as its now got twinkling lights running around it. And what of the river and drawbridge, is that still surrounding it? It, sadly, looks like those classic parts of the dome home have been left in the Challenge TV repeats. Aesthetics aside, the games will be as big and as bold as ever.

The new series will see teams of five contestants navigate the Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Future zones of the maze. They will face a range of skill, mystery, physical and mental challenges to win crystals that equate to five seconds of time in the final test – the legendary Crystal Dome. A batch of celebrity specials in aid of Stand Up To Cancer will also air later this year.

The series is filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol, where a purpose built maze spanning over 30,000 square feet has been created by the original Crystal Maze designer, James Dillon.

The Crystal Maze first aired on Channel 4 in 1990 with Rocky Horror star, and co-creator of the cult musical and movie, Richard O’Brien as host – the iconic Crystal Dome can be seen on the roof of Frank ‘N ‘Furter’s castle in the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie; who would have believed in 1975 a later version of the glass dome would be filled with contestants jumping around chasing bits of sliver and gold coloured foil?

The series was originally intended to be filmed on an old fortress on the west coast of France, Fort Boyard, created by Jacques Antoine for French television, got as far as UK pilot episode recorded with Richard O’Brien, however with time running out towards a transmission date it became clear to producer Malcolm Heyworth the structure wouldn’t be fully operational in time for the UK version to air. Instead the team devised the maze series based on the basic premise of Fort Boyard, which would eventually have a UK version produced for Channel 5 some years later.

After four hugely successful series Richard handed the batton over to singer Ed Tudor-Pole, and a further two runs of The Crystal Maze aired, but as Channel 4’s schedules, and possibly budgets, changed the Crystal Maze was confined for twenty years to repeats only on satellite television, most recently on Challenge TV. The format was revived in October 2016 for a Stand Up To Cancer celebrity special and proved a hit with loyal fans and newcomers alike, winning a consolidated audience of 4.3 million viewers. The one-off was hosted by Stephen Merchant who took the look of original host O’Brien, with Richard appearing in a cameo role in the special via a computer screen.

The seventh series of the show, which asks contestants to take on either Mental, Physical, Mystery or Skill will air on Channel 4 in June.

Pictured Top: Richard Ayoade takes over the show for the seventh series. Pictured Middle: Stephen Merchant, in Richard O’Brien style, hosts the Stand up to Cancer special in 2016. Pictured Bottom: Richard O’Brien on the original series.
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