It may have been more than two decades since it last aired, but The Crystal Maze’s one-off revival to raise money for Stand Up For Cancer was tipped as one of 2016’s TV highlights as soon as it was announced. And so it proved, in what was a ridiculously entertaining hour.
Indeed, so good was the reboot, fans are now desperate to see return of the classic '90s game show (soundtracked here with original theme tune) for full series.
Word is Channel 4 producers are keen, too, so here’s hoping. Meanwhile, here’s five things we loved about Sunday’s celebrity special.
1 - Stephen Merchant was ace
When it was first announced that The Crystal Maze was returning, albeit for a one-off, the rumour mill went into a frenzy with speculation that David Tennant was taking over from Richard O’Brien. As it happened, it was Stephen Merchant who got the nod. The co-writer of The Office and Extras paid tribute to O’Brien by shaving his head (yes, it really wasn’t a bald cap!) but rather than doing an impression of the show’s original host, he channelled his own comic energy to great effect. Unfortunately, Merchant says his appearance was strictly a one off.
2 - The David Tennant reference was funny
The Scots actor may not have been the host in the end, but he still had a presence in the one-off celebrity special. In a cheeky reference at the start to the rumours Tennant was to helm the show, Merchant spoke to original host O'Brien through a screen to gain access to the game. Discussing Merchant's new role, O'Brien quipped: I'll tell you who would've been good... that chap that played Doctor Who." With mock irritation, Merchant retorted, "He's not available!"
3 - The format still works
More than just a nostalgia-fest, the return of The Crystal Maze served as a reminder of just how good the original format was. A mix of physical and mental challenges, it sees a team of contestants circulating themed zones in a purpose-built maze to win crystals, which give them extra time to win prizes in the final game. If it ain’t broke, as they say…
4 - The new theme tune sounded great
The show’s theme tune is a classic, but Zack Laurence’s original 'Forcefield' composition was given a no-expense-spared makeover for the reboot, re-recorded with a full orchestra. To be honest, we still prefer the original - though the new one is pretty darn awesome, too.
5 - The money raised for charity
Former footballer Rio Ferdinand was a hard-tackling defender in his playing days, but here the former Manchester United and England man played a more offensive role, leading his team (Josh Widdicombe, Michelle Keegan, Jonnie Peacock, Sara Cox) to five crystals (rounded up to six by Merchant). Once Team Rio entered the Dome, they managed to raise a none too shabby £25,000 for Stand Up To Cancer.