Comedian and actor Stephen Merchant is stepping into the place left vacant by Richard O'Brien
Channel 4, in the wake of all the bad publicity over its much-publicised takeover of the Great British Bake Off, has revealed the first image of its almost as much publicised reboot of the classic 1990s game show The Crystal Maze. Despite early reports that the TV network was courting former Dr Who David Tennant to replace the eccentric host Richard O’Brien, Extras star Stephen Merchant will be guiding the celebrity teams through the four zones.
Joining the 41-year-old comedy star for a special revival for Channel 4’s telethon Stand Up To Cancer will be actress Michelle Keegan, British Paralympian Jonnie Peacock, comedian Josh Widdicombe, radio presenter Sarah Cox, and former footballer Rio Ferdinand.
“As a huge fan of the original series, I’m honoured to support Stand Up To Cancer by hosting this one-off edition of The Crystal Maze,” Merchant said when Channel 4 announced him as the host.
The Crystal Maze debuted on Channel 4 in 1990, with its final episodes broadcast in 1995. The popular game show featured jump-suit wearing team members attempting to solve physical and mental challenges across four different zones in the hope of claiming a crystal. Each crystal equated to time spent in the final round, which saw them attempt to catch and sort foil tickets flying around a giant crystal dome.
The show was hosted by actor and Rocky Horror Picture Show-creator Richard O’Brien, whose brash dress sense and impassioned delivery of the phrase “Will you start the fans, please,” turned him into even more of a cult star than he already was. O’Brien’s asides to the camera while the contestants grappled with the games were not originally intended to be included in the programmes, but his attempts to make the camera and production crew laugh became an integral part of the show. O’Brien was later replaced by Ed Tudor-Pole.
“Richard O’Brien and Ed Tudor-Pole leave big shoes to fill, but I have size 14 feet, so I’ll do my best,” Merchant said.
The Crystal Maze returns to Channel t on Sunday, October 16th at 9pm on Channel 4.